The Cross River State Government is looking forward to achieving open defecation-free (ODF) status in all the 18 local government areas of the state by 2023.
Director-General of Rural, Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWATSSA), Mr Ita Ikpeme, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar, the state capital.
Ikpeme, who was reacting to the recent celebration of Ikom and Yala LGAs as ODF, said the state was currently number one in ODF in Nigeria.
“Yes, last week, we celebrated two local government areas as ODF, making it five local government areas.
“Before then, we already had Obanliku, Bekwara and Yakurr. Very soon we are going to Boki.
“Our target is that, by 2023, all the 18 local government areas in the state will be ODF,” he said.
The director-general said that a task force known as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committee (WASHCOM) had been instituted in all the affected communities in collaboration with the local government councils to ensure the sustenance of the ODF.
“They have their own bye-laws; and anyone who is caught defecating in the open will be arrested by the enforcement team and punished appropriately,” Ikpeme said.
He commended the development partners including, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), UK Aid, Federal Ministry of Water Resources and United Purpose for the progress so far made by the state government.
By Benson Ezugwu