Achieving State-Wide Open Defecation Free Status in Nigeria
On 26 October 2022, Nigeria achieved a landmark success when the National Task Group on Sanitation (NTGS) validated Jigawa state as the first Open Defecation Free (ODF) state after decades of struggling to eliminate the practice of open defecation. When Jigawa adopted the National ODF Roadmap in 2016, it was acknowledged as one of the top ten states, where eliminating open defecation would be very challenging.
UNICEF adopted the LGA-wide approach, addressing complete local government areas (LGAs) using the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach and market-based sanitation strategies. Key ingredients to success included:
- government ownership and commitment at the national, state and local levels
- strong participation of relevant local stakeholders and natural leaders
- strong subnational policies and laws to guide and regulate action
- evidence-based advocacy to sustain momentum
- results-based monitoring and reporting to effectively track ODF progress and guide corrective action at the community level.
With six million people and an expanding population, Jigawa is one of the poorest and least developed of the 36 states in Nigeria, where almost nine out of ten people live below the poverty line. Yet, between 2018 and 2022, Jigawa became the first state in Nigeria to achieve open defecation free status in all 27 LGAs. This remarkable achievement provides a beacon of hope from which lessons can be drawn to make progress across Nigeria where 54.5% of the population do not have access to basic sanitation and 48 million practice open defecation (Federal Ministry of Water Resources, 2021). Given that the sustainability index for household sanitation services in Jigawa is 35.8 per cent, UNICEF is currently providing technical assistance to devise and implement a Jigawa ODF sustainability plan and is continuing its sanitation promotion programme to create demand and an enabling environment for people to move up the sanitation services ladder towards safely managed sanitation services. (UNICEF, 2022).