According to the findings from the 2018 WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) survey, 47 million people in Nigeria practice open defecation. Consequently, Nigeria loses about 1.3% (N455 billion) of GDP annually due to poor sanitation. Additionally, more than 100, 000 children under the age of five die each year because of water and sanitation related diseases.

In November 2018, the Nigerian President declared a state of emergency in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector, demonstrating political will at the highest level of government, and launched a national campaign tagged 'Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet' to jump-start the country’s journey towards becoming Open Defecation Free (ODF) by 2025.

WaterAid is working with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR) and other development partners, civil society organisations, the media, the private sector to implement the “Clean Nigeria Campaign” campaign to end open defecation by 2025 and achieve universal access to safely managed sanitation.

The ambitious aim of the hygiene behaviour change “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” campaign is to get 47 million Nigerians to use the toilet and stop open defecation. 

The cost of open defecation in Nigeria

: Nigeria loses about 1.3% (N455 billion) of GDP annually due to poor sanitation as a result of illness, low productivity and loss of learning opportunities. 

More than 100,000 children under 5 years of age die each year due to diarrhoea; of which 90 percent is directly attributable to unsafe water and sanitation. 

1 in 4 children under five years of age exhibit severe stunting, while 1 in 10 are wasted, due to frequent episodes of diarrhoea and other Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) related diseases.

Frequent episodes of WASH-related diseases cause absence from school or work, as affected people take time off to heal, and some to take care of a sick relative.

 In most homes, children are responsible for fetching clean water for domestic use. Time spent in search of water and frequent episodes of WASH-related diseases results in reduced school enrolment and attendance.

Open defecation results in loss of dignity, increased risks of insecurity and violence against women and children.

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How will the objectives of the campaign will be achieved?

The success of the ambitious objectives of the Clean Nigeria Campaign depends on: 

  1. Strong political commitment in leadership at all levels to improve sanitation and end open defecation and increased budgetary allocation.
  2. Increased support from the media for the dissemination of behaviour change messages, institutional advocacy, and increased coverage of human interest stories on sanitation.
  3. Increased and well-targeted WASH funding at all levels, especially for rural areas.
  4. Increased collaboration amongst development organizations and civil society organizations working to improve sanitation and end open defecation.
  5. Increased private sector engagement in the WASH sector – through business investment and corporate citizenship/corporate social responsibility. And sanitation and hygiene awareness creation through branding and promotion.


What we are doing at WaterAid

WaterAid is a member of the Clean Nigeria Campaign secretariat, working actively with the government and other sector actors towards achieving the goals of the campaign.

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Image: WaterAid/Blessing Sani

Specifically, we are providing strategic communications and advocacy support through developing and sharing multi-thematic, cultural and context sensitive messages aimed at hygiene behaviour change.

We supported the design and launch of the Clean Family; Happy Family hygiene behaviour change in Bauchi State. The Clean Family campaign aligns with the national Clean Nigeria campaign, and is part of the state's open defecation free (ODF) roadmap,

We are currently supporting the Bauchi State Government to design its own State Action Plan and ODF roadmap which will feed into and contribute to achieving the objectives of the National Action Plan to revitalise Nigeria's WASH sector and the Clean Nigeria campaign,

WaterAid is piloting the Sustainable Total Sanitation Emerging Framework in Kirfi Local Government Area of Bauchi State to improve sanitation access, end open defecation and create entrepreneurial opportunities in the sanitation space by engaging the private sector. The adaptive and composite approach integrates Sanitation Marketing with Community Led Total Sanitation, public awareness and communications activities through Hygiene Behaviour Change (HBC).

We are also working with the WASH media network to develop and disseminate hygiene behaviour change messages through various media platforms.

We will continue to support the Clean Nigeria campaign and place Nigeria on track to attain Sustainable Development Goal 6 - clean water and sanitation for all. We will continue engagements in our focal states to support the implementation of state level action plans to end open defecation, improve sanitation access and good hygiene practices to ensure sustainable WASH access for everyone, everywhere by 2030.

Interested in being a part of this campaign?

Here are a few ideas to get you started

- Good hygiene can prevent water and sanitation related diseases like diarrhoea and trachoma, and slows down the spread of fatal contagious diseases like Coronavirus and Ebola. We need you to speak loud about the importance of sustained handwashing facilities, particularly handwashing with soap at critical times, use of clean water and use of clean toilets.

- People’s rights to water and sanitation will only be upheld when decision makers commit to increasing access to water and sanitation facilities. Using social media or any accountability platform, you can ensure that water, sanitation and hygiene remain at the forefront of national issues, and keep decision-makers accountable to the commitments they make to prioritise.

 Around the world, social media is making it easier for people to have a voice in government — to discuss issues, organise around causes, hold leaders accountable and influence government to take urgent action. You can help amplify WASH issues through various social media platforms. Ensure to tag WaterAid Nigeria on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Together, we can make change happen.

Want to know more?

Visit the Clean Nigeria Campagin website for even more information on the problem, the solutions and how you can get involved.

Other ways to advocate

There are lots of ways to become a WASH advocate and help us achieve our mission of access to sustained water, sanitation and hygiene services for everyone in Nigeria.