As Nigeria struggles to battle with the wave of cholera threatening many parts of the country, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, has called on state government authorities to end open defecation in their respective jurisdictions if the epidemic has to be managed. The Minister urged the state governments to prepare for a widespread orientation of the general public and push for a behavioural change that will discourage the populace from defecating in open spaces.

Mr Pate stated this today during a breakfast show on the Channels Television programme.

Explaining, he said open defecation is a practice of people defecating in open spaces rather than using toilets or designated sanitation facilities across their communities which have remained a significant challenge to Nigeria’s public health over the years.


According to him as a health expert, about 48 million Nigerians, representing 23 per cent of the total population of citizen, defecate in open spaces and this is increasing the risk of severe health and environmental issues among the fragile health status in the country.

The recent outbreak of the cholera epidemic in the country, which has so far affected 1,528 persons across the country with some fatalities, has been linked in part to the continued prevalence of the disease.

Pate said, “As part of the nationwide effort to fight cholera, the state government needs to put an end to open defecation so that faeces do not come into the food that people consume or the water that people drink”.

He noted that the only state that has been declared open defecation free is Jigawa out of the country’s 36 states calling on others to work towards this as the nation tries to beat the present epidemic. 

Unified efforts

Meanwhile, the minister called for a unified effort from both federal, state, and local authorities as well as the private sector’s contributions towards combating the menace that has continued unabated in the country.

He explained that effective monitoring of waste management, hygiene, and sanitation in communities is key under their jurisdictions through ensuring that locals are trained on proper hygiene.

More so, State environmental agencies, must also ensure that they carry out their tasks to complement the local government’s efforts through effective regulation and monitoring, he added.

Mr Pate disclosed that though a lot of work is ongoing at the national level but might not produce the desired results when the state and local authorities fail in their functions as authorities.

“The Ministry of Water Resources is working to ensure the availability of water as well as mobile sanitation facilities like toilets. However, these efforts are not self-sufficient without the contribution of the state and the local government.

He said: “In the context of our federal system, there are some responsibilities that are primarily of the local government.

“Waste management, hygiene, and sanitation depend on local government and the state authorities. State environmental agencies must carry out their functions in addition to the local government.

“We need to mobilise collectively as a people. Public sector and private sector to address this,” he added.