The Federal Government says it has embarked on strategic awareness programmes toward eradicating the menace of open defecation that has become prevalent in many parts of the country.
Mrs Comfort Ekaro, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, announced this during the inaugural meeting of the Planning Committee for the National Launch of the Clean Nigeria Campaign on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 in Abuja.
The committee was set up following the approval of the Federal Executive Council for the roll-out of the National Programme to End Open Defecation in Nigeria tagged: ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ Campaign during its meeting on May 8.
President Muhammadu Buhari was expected to launch the campaign to mark its official roll-out while the planning committee was inaugurated on May 27 by the former Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu.
“The Clean Nigeria Campaign is a national transformative campaign aimed at addressing the unfortunate position in which Nigeria has found herself as the top-ranking country in Africa.
“It is also the second country globally behind India, with the highest population of people practising open defecation.
“There have been efforts in time past to address this menace
“The reality of becoming the global number one country in this regard when India exits this ladder by October 2019 spurred the need to re-strategise and do things differently.
“To achieve the national target of ending open defecation in Nigeria by 2025, we must ensure that households are mobilised to provide their sanitation facilities.
“Relevant government institutions and the private sector should provide sanitation facilities in public places in order to realise total coverage and sustainable access for the populace.
“This move is a demonstration of Government’s commitment to end open defecation on or before the target date of 2025 and to ensure that Nigerians have access to basic sanitation facilities and live in a healthy environment,” Ekaro said.
She also said that after the national launch, subnational governments were also expected to roll-out the campaign at their levels.
Ekaro urged members of the planning committee to show commitment in ensuring a successful national launch.
Earlier, Mr Awe Emmanuel, Director, Water Quality and Control, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, noted that 47 million Nigerians practised open defecation.
Emmanuel said that open defecation had impact on health, socio-economic and national development.
“122,000 Nigerians including 87,000 children under the age of five die each year from diarrhoea and other preventable WASH-related diseases,” he said.
Emmanuel said that a national roadmap to eliminate open defecation by 2025 had been developed with states and was at the level of adaptation.
Mrs Chizoba Opara, Acting Coordinator, Clean Nigeria-Use the Toilet, said the Clean Nigeria Campaign was a national initiative to drive the process towards the attainment of the national target of making Nigeria Open Defecation Free by 2025.
Opara said that the national launch would be performed by Mr President and the launch was expected to mark the official roll-out of the mass advocacy and communication campaign under the Clean Nigeria programme.
By Joan Nwagwu