The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, has called on private sector players to partner with the ministry in its “Clean Nigeria campaign” towards ending open defecation in the country.
Adamu made the call at the sidelines of a One-Day Inter-Ministerial Dialogue on Sanitation in Abuja.
The minister said stakeholder collaboration would change the narratives of open defecation practice in the country.
The inauguration of a national transformational movement tagged: “Clean Nigeria: War against Open Defecation” was to end open defecation in Nigeria and reduce the number of Nigerians involved in open defecation worldwide.
The minister said the intervention would be a nationwide mission, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, and all federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), anchored by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.
According to him, the intervention would also support all the state governments and MDAs to facilitate grassroots intervention on the menace.
Adamu said it would be a shame that India exits the position of largest country with open defecation practice, leaving Nigeria at the number one spot.
According to him, within the last four years, India has provided toilets for 400 million persons, and is on track to meet the target of delivering toilets to an additional 150 million persons before October.
“We are not saying that government alone should do the public toilets, we are even saying the private sector can look for a land.
“Government should facilitate for the private sector to be able to find a corner in the town, in the market or somewhere to be able to build a toilet facility, or a water facility, combined with the sanitation facility.
“So, it is a joint effort between the Federal Government, the states, business community, or development partners and everybody. This campaign is towards mobilising the entire country so that everybody thinks and talk sanitation.
“The number one thing is behavioural change because a lot of people don’t think there is a loss of dignity in stripping at that corner and doing their business, where as it is, they don’t think that doing that will attract flies.
“It will take flies to ‘Suya’ spot, somebody will go and eat that ‘suya’ and his health is in danger, and maybe his life, they don’t feel that sense of responsibility.’’
He disclosed that the Federal Government would soon start asking filling station, shops among others to open their facilities to the public, saying this was what was acceptable in other countries.
He applauded efforts of development partners in the intervention programmes through the Community Led Total Sanitation principle, saying this has led to the attainment of 10 Open Defecation-Free Local Government Areas in the country.
“In India for example, most of the 90 million toilets that were built were not built by the government, they were built by the people, women, cooperative societies, school children, trade groups coming together.”
He added that Nigerians by now should understand the importance of building and using toilets in their houses, saying government would intervene when there are issues of the poor and the vulnerable.
“The Joint Monitoring Progress 2017 state that by October 2019, Nigeria may become the country with the highest number of persons practicing open defecation.
“With approximately one in four persons, 47 million people having nowhere to go to toilet while the national access to basic sanitation stands at a low level of 33 per cent.
“Data from the recently conducted WASH National Outcome Routine Monitoring (WASHNORM) in 2018 showed a marginal reduction in access to improved water supply to 67.9 per cent with only 3.7 per cent meeting safely managed criteria for sanitation,’’ he said.
By Tosin Kolade