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Make toilets attractive to end open defecation — Water Minister

Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, has called on all Nigerians and stakeholders to make toilets attractive towards promoting dignity and ending open defecation practices in the country.

Adamu made this call at the 2021 World Toilet Day commemoration, with the theme, ‘Valuing Toilets’ in Abuja on Friday.

According to him, Nigeria cannot continue to do things the same way, if the country will meet the global target of improved access to safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) by 2030.

He said the immeasurable benefits that toilets brought and the need to care for the ones available cannot be overemphasised, saying they protected the dignity of women and girls’ and ensure safety and health, especially during menstruation.

“Toilets, alongside clean water and good hygiene practices, form an essential barrier against the spread of deadly diseases like COVID-19, typhoid and cholera.

“Toilets help in reducing cases of malnutrition in our children under the age of 5, help to keep our children in school and also improve productivity through job creation.

“It has been established that investment in sanitation yields a five-fold returns on investment, we must therefore prioritise investment and innovations towards improving sustainable access to sanitation and hygiene in our communities”.

The minister noted that the adoption of Community Led Total Sanitation approach to generate demand for toilet had led to the supply chain for construction of durable and improved toilet facilities through Sanitation Marketing.

He stressed the need to mobilise actions from the community to the policy level, towards making all Nigerians have access to toilet facilities at home and in public places such as schools, health care centres, motor parks and markets.

“It is also important that the transportation, treatment and disposal or reuse component of the sanitation service chain is strengthened to ensure safely managed sanitation service which is the aspiration of the SDG sanitation target.

“This will require providing an enabling environment for private sector participation along the sanitation service chain”.

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Adamu commended efforts of the development partners and the organised private sector for taking the lead in changing the poor narratives of poor sanitation in the country.

He however called on all Nigerians to take extra steps in building and using their toilets, saying it was worrisome that some people expected tiers of government to build toilets for them.

Dr Nicholas Igwe, National Coordinator, Organised Private Sector in WASH, noted that Nigeria had not appreciated the value of having access to a clean and functioning toilet.

This, he noted, had made millions of Nigerians to be hindered in terms of daily activities, while many were susceptible to disease and instances of gender based violence.

“Valuing toilets is aimed at highlighting the fact that the provision of toilets and other sanitation infrastructure has largely been poorly managed, neglected and underfunded.

“ Valuing public health, economic prosperity, education and gender equality means valuing the importance of clean toilets.

“It is time that we recognise and understand the crucial role sanitation plays in all aspects of our lives, furthermore, it is time that we start taking action to guarantee the human right to water and sanitation for all Nigerians’’.

Igwe noted that Nigeria’s private sector was powerful enough as the engine of the economy to assist the Federal Government in their laudable endeavour to end open defecation in Nigeria by 2025.
He said such commitment was reflected with current partnership with the Nigeria Diaspora Commission, noting that this had seen funding for sanitation infrastructure for Kara Market, from Mr. David Alaba- a real Madrid player.

Dr Walter Mulombo, the Head of Mission and Representative of World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria, noted that an estimated 46 million people indulge in open defecation practice, often leading to about 87.000 diarrheal under-five deaths annually.

“Valuing toilets” bring to fore the fact that toilets – and the sanitation systems that support them – are underfunded, poorly managed or neglected in many parts of the world.

“Today should remind us of the fact that, the benefits of investing in an adequate sanitation system are immense given that there is basic sanitation returns up to $5 in saved medical costs and increased productivity.

“WHO therefore request government and the private sector at all levels in Nigeria to increase investment in sanitation by building safer, decent and climate-resilient toilets, improve safety across sanitation service chain in line with established Sanitation Safety Planning (SP) model and WHO Guidelines on Sanitation.

“We also encourage Municipalities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Bauchi, Aba, Minna, Yenagoa and many others to upgrade and make effective their municipal sewage treatment plants as well as enforce punitive measures against those who defecate in the open.

Mulombo, represented by Dr Edwin Isotu-Edeh, National Consultant, Public Health and Environment, WHO Nigeria, said in 2021, WHO piloted implementation of Sanitation Safety Plan (SP) in 6 states including Lagos, Niger, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Abia and Sokoto.

“Through this intervention, Lagos, Yenagoa and Minna have developed and adopted their City-Scale Sanitation Safety Plan (SP).

“Also, 1,560,000 people have been exposed to hygiene promotion and behavioral change on Open Defecation’’.

(NAN)

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