Federal Government says the “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” campaign is aimed toward building the populace for a new culture of safe defecation in the country.
Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, said this during the celebration of Open Defecation Free (ODF) status of Logo Local Government Area in Benue State on Tuesday, September 3, 2019.
According to him, in view of the stark reality of Nigeria becoming the next global leader of open defecation once led by India, the current leader would exit the group of countries practising open defecation by October through its Swachh Bharat (Clean India) mission.
“A National Programme to End Open Defecation in Nigeria tagged: ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ campaign was approved by the Federal Executive Council on May 8, and the national inauguration and flag off of campaign will be performed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The campaign is aimed at mobilising high level political support, resources and populace toward building a new culture of safe defecation.
” A national secretariat for this programme has been set up by the ministry to coordinate activities across the country,” he said.
Adamu, represented by Mr Emmanuel Eze, the Deputy Director, Water Quality Control and Sanitation in the ministry, said that, to achieve the national target of ending open defecation in Nigeria by 2025, all households must be mobilised to provide their sanitation facilities.
He said that relevant government institutions and the private sector must provide sanitation facilities in public places such as schools, health care centres, parks and markets to realise total coverage and sustainable access for the populace.
He said the ministry recognised the fact that action to end open defecation in Nigeria would require the contribution and commitment of everyone, government, civil society, private sector, development partners and the entire populace.
“This will ensure that deliberate and sustained attention required to end open defecation in the country is put in place. “It is expected that these collective actionss will further the speedy attainment of an Open Defecation Free Nigeria by 2025,” he said.
The minister said the benefits of access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities, especially living in an open defecation free environment was the impacts on the education, health, security and socioeconomic wellbeing of the people “and it is worth celebrating’’.
He therefore commended the people of Logo LGA for their commitment toward behavioural change and encouraged them to be steadfast.
He also commended the support of Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) for providing the grant through the Global Sanitation Fund for the implementation of the Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria (RUSHPIN) programme.
The achievement was recorded under the RUSHPIN programme, among others.
He assured all stakeholders of the ministry’s commitment toward improved coordination, partnership and implementation of WASH programmes.
Mrs Ebele Okeke, WASH Ambassador, commended Logo LGA for the record of the milestone of achieving open defecation free.
Ebele, who was represented by Mrs Ruth During, Programme officer for WSSCC Support Unit office in Nigeria, said more needed to be done to meet the global objective of WASH in the country.
According to her, open defecation perpetuates a vicious cycle of diseases and poverty. The reoccurring incidences of water and sanitation related diseases are as a result of poor sanitation and hygiene practices.
“From research, nearly one quarter of households or 24 per cent of Nigerians practice open defecation either on the open fields, bushes, among others.
“It is therefore important that we take drastic measures in to tackle these challenges in our country That is why the Federal Government has recently declared a state emergency in the WASH sector,’’ she said.
The WASH Ambassador, however, called on the Logo LGA to sustain the achievement of Open Defecation Free communities, while urging them to be a role model for other LGAs in the North Central region.
She also called on them to share their challenges, best practices, and further deliberate on issues of national importance as it will go a long way to making ODF a success story in Nigeria.
Mrs Elizabeth Jeiyol, the National Coordinator, WSSCC Nigeria Office, pledged its organisation’s support to the Federal Government through the Ministry of Water Resources in achieving the Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet Campaign.
By Joan Nwagwu