President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja inaugurated the “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet Campaign”, as part of measures to end open defecation in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the launch, which coincided with the World Toilet Day, is to kick-start strategies that will move Nigeria from its present position of number one in Africa and second in the world in open defecation.
Mr Buhari, who was represented by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to providing conducive environment for the citizenry to end open defecation.
“World Bank report on the economic impact of poor sanitation due to use of unsanitary or shared toilets and open defecation, estimates that Nigeria loses N455billion annually with open defecation accounting for a third of this amount.
“These costs include healthcare, loss of productivity, premature deaths, poor educational outcomes, among others,” he said.
President Buhari said that some of the dire costs of open defecation were those that could not be quantified in monetary terms such as the social costs, loss of dignity, lack of privacy and increased vulnerability to physical attacks and violence, especially for women and girls.
He said that the Target 6.2 of the Sustainable Development Goal for Water and Sanitation “seeks to achieve by 2030, access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation.”
“This is paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations,” he said.
The president noted that meeting the target was expected to contribute significantly to the achievement of other goals.
He said that this would specifically contribute to Nigeria’s achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being of the population.
He said that between 2016 and 2019, only 14 out of the 774 local government areas of the country had been declared Open Defecation Free with the support of other international development partners.
“This achievement is a far cry from our target of making Nigeria open-defecation-free by 2025 according to the national roadmap.
“The Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet Campaign is part of our effort to fast track our progress and ensure we achieve our goal,” he said.
He noted that as the United Nations marks World Toilet Day, it was an auspicious day to officially roll out the ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ campaign.
He described the Clean Nigeria campaign as a national transformative initiative to mobilise the entire nation toward imbibing the culture of safe and sustainable sanitation practices toward the 2025 target date.
“This campaign is also being backed by a Presidential Executive Order which will give effect to the implementation of the Clean Nigeria campaign.
“The Federal Government recognises the fact that action to end open defecation in Nigeria will require the contribution and commitment of everyone: government at all levels, civil society, private sector, development partners, traditional and religious leaders, and the entire populace, ”he said.
Buhari said households must be mobilised to provide their own sanitation facilities.
“Government institutions and the private sector should provide sanitation facilities in public places such as schools, healthcare centres, parks and markets,” he stressed.
He said that this would ensure total coverage and sustainable access for the populace.
“Although, we all know that the primary responsibility for provision of water, sanitation and hygiene services lies with the states and local government areas, the Federal Government remains committed to supporting the states initiatives aimed at improving access to these services for the populace” he said.
He stressed that states and the Federal Capital Territory should consider common sense policy measures in ensuring that construction sites were equipped with toilet facilities.
He added that property development control regulators could also make it mandatory for buildings to include external toilet facilities for staff such as security guards.
“These and other such measures will reduce the incidence of public defecation.
“We all must redouble our efforts and work together in order to meet the nation’s Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene needs.
“As a nation, we simply cannot afford the huge costs including fatalities caused by preventable water and sanitation related diseases as a result of inadequate WASH services,” he said.
He said that in contributing to the government’s efforts, citizens must take action to avoid open defecation.
Suleiman Adamu, the Minister of Water Resources, noted that over the years Nigeria had maintained the first position among countries practicing open defecation and second in the world.
Mr Adamu said that an estimated 47 million Nigerians practice open defecation because of lack of facilities and space to use for defecation.
He said that India was rated the first in the world in open defecation, adding that in the country’s bid to rid it of such menace, India had taken over 500million people off open defecation.
“In view of the reality that Nigeria may soon take over India, there is need to embark on this campaign to mobilise high level political support, resources and critical stakeholders toward building a new culture of safe sustainable sanitation.
“This is the only way to achieve the target of making Nigeria open defection free by 2025,” he said.
The minister, however, assured that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari administration was making a deliberate attempt to end open defecation in the country.
Gov. Kayode Fayemi, the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, who was represented by Solomon Lalong, Governor of Plateau, said that the states would collaborate with the Federal Government to commit funds and engage personnel to tackle open defecation in the country
He said that the state governors remained committed to ending open defecation, adding that they would do their best to ensure that cleaningness was replicated across the country.