By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
The Federal Government has solicited stakeholders support to end open defecation in the country.
Minister of Environment Dr. Mohammade Abubakar made the appeal at an enlightenment campaign to commemorate the 2020 World Toilet Day on Thursday in Abuja.
The event took place at the Chief of Maja’s palace, Jabi Upstairs.
World Toilet Day is celebrated across the world every Nov. 19.
According to the Minister “One of the major consequences of poor excreta and sewage disposal is the high rate of diarrhoeal disease which is the second cause of high morbidity and mortality rates amongst children under the age of five.
‘‘I invite the private sector and other stakeholders to partner with the Ministry and Government at all levels in providing sanitary facilities for our communities especially the rural areas where open defecation is a norm.
‘‘The Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with critical stakeholders has within the past one year constructed and handed over modern public toilets to State Governments. These toilets which are a component of the Ministry’s Community Based Waste Management programme are to be managed by private sector operators for viability and sustainability.
‘‘Other toilet projects are at various stages of completion and it is our expectation that this will be replicated in all the Local Governments of the federation. I, therefore, call on the Private Sector, Development Partners, NGOs, CBOs, Professional bodies e.t.c to partner with us on this laudable initiative.
He stressed need for enlightenment campaign at the grassroots to sensitise the communities about the need to live a healthy lifestyle .
“Tell them to avoid diseases, typhoid fever, cholera, among others, you need to have the by-end of the people, these are some of the ways to also have the by-end of the people because if they don’t understand, they would neglect and destroy the works that you have put in place for them.
Abubakar said this year celebration was set aside to draw attention to the plight of billions of people who still have to do without a toilet.He said this calls for collectively participation to address this deplorable sanitation situation”.
He said this year theme “Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change “ is quiet apt as it draws attention to the fact that climate change is getting worse, flood , drought and rising sea levels have contributed in threatened sanitation systems.
He noted that 4.2 billion people are still practicing open defecation, saying that poor sanitation and hygiene increase the risk of diseases and malnutrition, especially among women and children.
“This is a very disturbing situation which is unacceptable,” he said.
The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, in a speech said that Nigeria is making progress to end open defecation with the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders.
“We have over 20,000 communities that are still practicing open defecation in Nigeria, but we are making progress in bringing an end to the practise.
“We are making progress, the pandemic has triggered us to be more serious about sanitation issues, because the way to fight COVID-19 is through sanitation.
“We are working harder now in collaboration with all stakeholders, especially the ministry of environment that we are also collaborating with.
“Once Nigerians accept the importance of having their own toilets, not defecating openly, the lack of dignity that it signifies and the states and local governments are able to provide their much needed toilets the much needed behavioral change will be seen among the people.
“When people know that this is not the right thing to do and begin to practice the proper attitude then open defecation will end in Nigeria.
The Acting Registrar of the Environmental Health Officer’s Registration Council of Nigeria (EHORECON), Dr Baba Yakubu Muhammed also called on the private sector participation in provisions of toilets .
The Chief of Maje, Chief Adams Jatau, commended the efforts of all stakeholders, saying that he felt honoured that his terrain was chosen among the 2020 World Toilet Day hosts in the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
“I appreciate the organisers for choosing this place as one of the venues in AMAC this year.
“I am delighted to host this event in my terrain, going by the commitment of my community in achieving a clean and healthy community in the FCT.