FG committed to ending open defecation, says Minister

By Chuks Oyema-Aziken

The Federal Government has unveiled plans to conduct a specialised online training in toilet design and faecal sludge management and reuse for at least 50 Nigerian officials.

This is fallout of an MoU the Federal Ministry of Environment recently entered with Centre for Science and Environment, India, on technology transfer, capacity building and research development in areas of water sanitation.

The Minister of Environment, Muhammad Mahmood, disclosed this on Thursday at a Ministerial Press Briefing held to commemorate the “2020 World Toilet Day” with the theme: “Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change”.

At the briefing, the Minister reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to ending open defecation in the country.

He said the theme was apt as it underscored the necessity for technologically sound systems for proper waste management and sanitary hygiene practices.

He said the government’s commitment was demonstrated by President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of state of emergency on water sanitation and hygiene in the country.

He also identified the signing of the executive order on open defecation free Nigeria by 2025, as another commitment.

He added that the ministry in collaboration with critical stakeholders had reviewed and validated the 2005 National Environmental Sanitation Policy Guidelines on safe excreta and sewage disposal.

He said “The intervention on control of open defecation and the Clean and Green Programme of the ministry are aimed at promoting the provision of safe and adequate toilets across the country.’

He said the officials would comprise of environmental health and sanitation desk officers across the 36 states, FCT and members of inter-ministerial committee on national sanitation by December.

He added that the ministry had handed over modern public toilets to state governments as practical steps to end open defecation by 2025.

“These toilets which are part of the ministry’s community based waste management programme are to be managed by the private sector operators for viability and sustainability,” he said.

Mr Abubakar said other toilet projects were at various stages of completion, as he expressed the hope that it would be replicated in all local governments of the federation.

He challenged all national, state and local government stakeholders on environment, particularly sanitation, to take practical steps and actions as agents of change.

“I must remind us that with just 10 years to go, the 2030 deadline to attain the SDG goals for the sake of people and the planet, we must redouble our efforts,” he said.

Yakubu Baba, acting registrar, Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria, called on other ministries to key into the programme.

Edwin Isotu, national consultant, Public Health and Environment, World Health Organisation, said that investing in sustainable sanitation would help create more jobs for Nigerian youth.

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