Nigeria to Sink $2.7bn in Toilet Projects

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigeria’s target of constructing 20 million toilets to end open defecation among its vast population by 2025 and boost sanitation levels will cost $2.7 billion, according to latest estimates by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The number of Nigerians lacking access to toilet facilities and defecating in the open especially in rural areas and slums stands at 47 million – equivalent to the entire population of Kenya.

To build the additional 20 million toilets over the next five years, it would require a war chest of $2.7 billion, the IMF reveals in its technical assistance report for Nigeria on sustainable development goals (SDGs). This project is set to open thousands of job opportunities, especially for the semi-skilled labour pool as well for suppliers of materials.

“The campaign “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” launched in 2019 is based on dissemination of technical instructions for the construction of toilets and behavioral nudging aimed at sensitising the population and mobilising public and private resources. The program identifies the location, resources needed ($2.7 billion), and responsibility (75 percent households, 25 percent government and public-private partnerships) for the construction of 20 million toilets,” the IMF says.

At 47 million, the population stuck to open defecation represents nearly a quarter of Nigeria’s population of 196 million people. The country’s population is expected to further grow by 60 million people (about 30 percent) over the next 10 years through 2030, cementing the Nigeria’s profile as most populous on the continent. Despite the stain on its sanitation picture, the oil-rich West African nation remains the largest economy in Africa.

The World Bank estimates that annual losses from poor sanitation—access time, premature death, productivity losses and healthcare—are equivalent to 1.3 percent of Nigeria’s GDP per year.

Therefore, improving water and sanitation systems, although initially costly in fixed costs, would have a positive impact on the poor. For example, ending open defecation could cut the time spent finding a private location to defecate (estimated at about 2.5 days a year).

Generally, the IMF report focuses on critical areas of human capital (education and health) and physical capital (electricity, roads, and water/sanitation) and ways in which Nigeria can improve its fortunes in the said areas.

Besides sanitation, Nigeria is failing the education test.

Half of Nigeria’s school-age population—nearly 50 million children and youth—are not receiving any formal education, according to the IMF.

“Furthermore, the education system seems to deliver poor quality to those enrolled. Nigeria ranks low in quality measures among low-income countries. For example, only 20 percent of pupils that complete primary school can read a three-sentence passage fluently or with little help, compared with 50 percent in Ghana and 80 percent Rwanda and Tanzania,” the IMF study found out.

Lack of adequate funding, it was established, continues to stand in the way as far as access to quality education is concerned.

“Resources devoted to education seem insufficient to deliver universal and high-quality education. At 1.6 percent of GDP, the combined spending on education by the public and private sectors is relatively low. School infrastructure is inadequate, and teachers lack materials. Most math and language teachers fail to achieve 80 percent in tests aimed at ten-year-old pupils,” the report says of the state of education in Nigeria.

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