World Toilet Day: Why 47 million Nigerians still practice open defecation – minister

The Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, has said the reason 47 million Nigerians still practice open defecation is because access to sanitary facilities have remained a mirage to a vast majority of its citizenry.

He said many people still use the bush and water bodies as their regular means for excreta disposal.

Abubakar who spoke in an event to mark the 2020 World Toilet Day with the theme ‘’Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change’’ in Abuja said many institutions do not have sanitary facilities and where they exist they are either not functioning or misused.

“Most urban areas do not have sewerage systems, safe collection of sewage and disposal therefore, become a huge challenge as many of the bodies of water including rivers and streams become a repository for sewage and wastewater,” he said.

The United Nations General Assembly officially designated 19th November every year as World Toilet Day to raise awareness on the importance of toilets and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.

Adamu said to overcome this global crisis, the UN has also established a target dedicated to sanitation in the form of SDG 6 (ensure access to water and sanitation for all) that everyone has access to toilets by 2030.

“We must therefore double our efforts to ensure everyone everywhere has access to safe toilets. “

He said: “One of the major consequences of poor excreta and sewage disposal is the high rate of diarrhoea disease which is the second cause of high morbidity and mortality rates amongst children under the age of five.”

The minister however called on the MDAs to ensure that toilets within their facilities are open to all (staff and visitors) and the unity schools across the country which may likely have similar sanitation challenges to take note and improve on the sanitation systems in their schools.

Speaking Minister of Water Resources, Engr Suleiman Adamu said to address the challenges of open defecation; many initiatives have been rolled out to give effect to the campaign.

He said in line with the theme, we must take into consideration the effect of climate change of which Nigeria is not immune in view of the flooding and other climate related events we are witnessing.

In Kano, a civil society organization on Malaria control, Immunization and Nutrition (ACOMIN) has stressed the need for philanthropists to support the state health facilities through the provision of social amenities especially toilets to augment the existing ones, the State Project Officer (SPO), Sharif S. Abubakar said

Speaking at a State Media briefing on the Global Fund Malaria Accountability and Advocacy project, Abubakar said reports from its field officers across the 33 facilities in 5 LGAs of Tarauni, Kura, Bichi, Wudil and Minjibir showed that toilets are grossly inadequate to meet the teeming number of people visiting the health facilities.

According to him, the government is doing its best but there is the need for people to key in especially community members to support by providing such to ease the suffering of the people saying that we all have roles to play as serious stakeholders in the society.

He said, some level of behavioural changes are being witnessed from some communities like Badume in Bichi LGA, where an individual built four toilets and in Unguwa Uku another person provided a canopy saying that such moves are desirable in other facilities.

In Benue a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) known as Gede Foundation working with selected schools in Guma Local Government Area raised awareness and advocated for clean toilet for all and access to sanitation.

Project Manager of Gede Foundation, Godwin Etim, at the occasion of 2020 World Toilet Day held at Lobetha Unity College, Daudu in Guma LGA, noted that the project was executed as North Central Transitional Aid in Nigeria in rural communities in Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa States.

Etim who was represented by the Benue State Project Manager John Udoh, said the project, being implemented by CeGHaD, ECWA, Gede Foundation and NKST primarily concerned itself with Comprehensive Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) as well as Village Savings and Loans with funding from German’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), through Christoffel-Blindenmission (CBM) Germany Nigeria.

He said the major activities of the project include setting up WASH Committees across the communities, training WASH Committee members in a wide range of skills to become hygiene promoters and lead the entire process of hygiene behaviour at all levels.

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