Sanitation is the process of keeping places clean and healthy, especially by providing a sewage system and clean water.
Sanitation is also the hygienic means of promoting health through prevention of human contact with the hazards of wastes as well as the treatment and proper disposal of sewage or waste-water.
More than a third of the world population is without improved sanitation.
Nigeria is still struggling to reverse the trend of lack of political infrastructure to reform sanitation and is faced with security and political concerns which have overshadowed development goals.
As a matter of fact, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Six, which places a premium on access to Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for all, is considered a key driver of economic growth; it also provides leverage for existing investments in health and education.
The Federal Government came up with several initiatives to improve access to water and sanitation, which included construction of over 2,300 additional water points as well as 6,546 sanitation compartments and hygiene facilities across the country.
After all, it is being said that health is wealth, just as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has conditioned good health as the prerequisite for sustainable development.
The Nigerian Water and Sanitation Programme, estimates that poor sanitation costs the country at least $3 billion each year in lost productivity and health care expenditures.
Providing latrines without first creating demand and educating them on the importance of hygiene in the community has failed repeatedly and these could be a better way to address such challenges in the country.
The Minister of Environment, Mr Mohammed Abdullahi, has stressed the need to improve hygiene awareness, especially in the various communities across the country.
Abdullahi says that sanitation is necessary for improving and protecting the health and wellbeing of the people.
“It is a system that promotes disposal of human and animal wastes, proper use of the environment such as toilet, bathroom, kitchen among others and avoiding open space defecation,” he said.
Abdullahi said that one of the strategies to ensure an effective environmental sanitation in the country is effective implementation of Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) project.
He said that the ISWM project is a comprehensive waste prevention, recycling, compositing and disposal project which will promote environmental sanitation if properly managed.
Abdullahi said that implementing the ISWM would be successful through strong collaboration of various government agencies and other relevant national and international organisations.
He added that poor sanitation contributes to dangerous diseases and malnutrition through fecal contamination of food and water.
According to Abdullahi, while these are immediate threats that require intense focus, sanitation is an essential long-term investment that will help Nigeria to grow.
He called on Nigerians to promote environmental sanitation for economic development and a healthy living of the people.
The National Coordinator, Clean-Up Nigeria, an NGO, Mr Ene Baba-Owoh, urged the government to collaborate with both national and international relevant organisations for an effective environmental sanitation.
According to him, if the government should partner with relevant stakeholders, it will promote environmental sanitation and create effective ways in tackling the challenges of deteriorating sanitation in Nigeria
“Different views, ideas and contributions from such experts in various organisations will improve the environmental sanitation in the country.
“Government can work together, ensure effective collaboration with some of the international organisations. That will go a long way to promote hygiene and sanitation in the country.
“Sustainability and implementation of environmental projects will also address the challenge of inefficiency of environmental sanitation,’’ he said.
The Registrar, Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria (EHORECON), Dr Yakubu Baba, urged all the states and local government leaders to employ more Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) to oversee environmental sanitation effectively in various communities in the country.
Baba said that the numbers of officers were inadequate, adding that more hands would engender the prevention of diseases in the country.
According to him, the employment of the officers at those levels will enhance the work of the EHOs, adding that even house-to-house sanitary inspection will help to control and manage endemic diseases.
Baba said that poor sanitation had caused a lot of havoc in the lives of many people in the country, adding that collaboration among the relevant organisations would promote environmental sanitation.
The Society for the Promotion of People’s Rights also said that construction of high quality toilets with effective treatment would encourage sustainability of such toilets and support a healthier environment in the society.
President of the NGO, Mr Williams Osaze, says that the challenge of using toilets without adequate water to clean the toilets is a problem which needs to be addressed.
Osaze said that most toilets operate without water, as such could also cause terminal diseases in the lives of people as well as increasing environmental contamination.
According to him, it will take more than money and infrastructure to fix Nigeria’s sanitation.
“Even if investments are to sufficiently rise, the lack of a single government entity with complete responsibility for sanitation within the government, as well as widespread corruption and lack of community support will likely hamper efforts.
“The impact of inadequate toilets goes beyond hazardous exposure to faeces. People who live without access to water and toilets are at higher risk of verbal and physical harassment when they relieve themselves,” Osaze said.
The president said that the best approach to tackle the problem of using toilets without adequate water to clean the toilet was through producing a new Flush-Tech Sanitation System.
Osaze explained that a fixed quantity of water is recycled through the new flush-tech sanitation system process adding that the system would ensure that toilets always preserve water.
He said that the NGO was committed to creating strong awareness on the importance of keeping toilets and the environment tidy.
Osaze said that the essence of the sensitisation was to let people know the dangers involved in using dirty toilets as well as living in unhealthy environments.
“We are committed to advocate for change and connect society into knowledge and experience to help people build a better life, so join us to make our country better,” he said.
Baba-Owoh said that collaboration of government at all levels and other relevant stakeholders would address effective waste management in the country.
Baba-Owoh said that strong sensitisation by government and other stakeholders would go a long way to tackle waste management and other environmental issues in the country.
He said that the approach would help Nigerians to improve in handling of wastes, to ensure a healthier and safer environment for all.
According to Baba-Owoh, the aim of the organisation is to mount a cleaning campaign through individuals and groups for accelerated action that will bring out the quality of the country’s environment.
“Some of our previous projects were the introduction and use of waste management.
“We sensitised people, educated them on how to make use of waste bins, including waste bins in vehicles.
“We carried this project to some states to ensure that the environment is clean and will also help to increase good hygiene and sanitation,” he said.
Baba- Owoh said his organisation brought about the Public Private Participation, starting with Lagos State.
He advised government to partner with stakeholders and experts who would provide knowledge on better ways to tackle waste management and other environmental challenges in the country.
“The private companies also in one way or the other owe their duty to the country, by ensuring effective partnership with various government and global organisations.
“Clean-up Nigeria had collaborated with road transporters and other individuals to join on a nationwide campaign.
“The collaboration has actually created a lot of attention to the public on the importance of waste management. It has brought a great and possible turnaround in improving the environment,’’ he said.
Baba-Owoh said that the organisation was also executing hygiene and sanitation projects in markets and other public places.
He said that the organisation had built toilets and provided sanitary facilities in major markets across the country.
Baba-Owoh said that other relevant stakeholders should emulate the attitude as such would provide a cleaner and healthier environment.
“We have extended the projects to other states, and the essence is to ensure that other people replicate the system in their domains.
“All these will assist in achieving a cleaner and healthier environment in the country,’’ he said.
Baba-Owoh therefore urged Nigerians to adhere to environmental laws and guidelines as the effort would help address the challenges of deteriorating sanitation.
By Vivian Emoni, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)