Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Minister of Health, has said that although a lot is being done to end open defecation in Nigeria, more can still be achieved with collaboration among stakeholders, including those in the private sector, to end the demeaning practice in no distant time.
He said this during the enlightenment campaign, organised to commemorate the occasion of the World Toilet Day in the Chief of Maje”s palace in Abuja. The Day is celebrated across the world every Nov. 19.
“When you tell people not to defecate openly, you have to provide an alternative, find a way to provide toilets which we have been doing at the Federal Government level.
The ministries of environment and water resources have been building toilets. We know we cannot build all the toilets needed so we are calling on the private sector to form a synergy to quicken the process.
“The NGOs, the CBOs and even the communities themselves can build pit latrines in their communities to prevent people from using the only available choices they have. It’s a collaborative effort.
Ehanire said that the education enlightenment campaign at the grassroots will help sensitive 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.
Dr Mohammad Mahmood, the Minister of Environment, said that the theme of the 2020 World Toilet Day, “Sustenable development and climate change”, focuses on drawing attention to the adverse impacts of climate change to sanitation systems.
According to him, of the world’s 7.8 billion people, 4.2 billion are were 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.
Also speaking, Mr Suileman Adamu, the Minister of Water Resources, 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 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.