Nigerian Government to Provide Infrastructure to End Open Defecation – Minister

By Zeniat Abubakar Abuja

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The Nigerian government says henceforth all building plans, schools, and malls across the country must have standard functional toilet facilities in their premises as this would help to address issues of open defecation in Nigeria

Minister of Environment Mr Barabe Lawal stated this at the 2023 World Toilet Day Commemoration held in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The call came when a Junior Secondary School, JSS, student of government college Wuse Zone 6 in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Miss Garba Harira, made an appeal to the government to ensure that each local government area in Nigeria has sanitary officials who bring hygienic laws to bear by ensuring compliance.

Responding, the Minister explained that the issues of open defecation in Nigeria will no longer be business as usual.

“From now all government institutions that are responsible in planning approvals must ensure that all building that comes to them must have a toilet we will do that, and we are going to have our Environmental Council in Kano state in December these are the issues we will also push across to states government across the country, that all building plans particularly shopping mall must have a Functional toilet as a matter of necesscity and we must take these into consideration. “ The Minister stated.

He said the Federal Ministry of Environment will henceforth deploy all its regulatory framework to ensure adequate enforcement of sanitation laws in the country.

“I therefore call on all Environmental Health Officers/Sanitary inspectors across all levels of government to step up their routine sanitary inspection of premises in their various jurisdictions and ensure that everyone everywhere in Nigeria has access to safe toilets.” He said.

Lawal also called on Unity schools across the country, which may likely have similar sanitation challenges to take note and improve on their sanitation situation.

“Findings from the sanitary inspection of Federal Government Unity schools in FCT revealed the following, some of the toilets in the hostels in some of the schools visited were locked because they are either not in good condition, poor or inadequate water supply in some of the schools which affects the access to and use of toilets by the students who obviously practice open defecation as there are evidence of presence of excreta in the surrounding environment, defective septic tanks which can serve as breeding place for pests and vectors of public health importance such as mosquitoes, rats, snakes etc”. He said.

He noted that there is urgent need and massive investment and innovation along the entire sanitation service chain.

“Investment in the sanitation sector is good for public health and the economy. For instance, every one Naira invested in toilets and sanitation, up to five Naira is returned in saved medical costs, better health, increased productivity, education and jobs.” He added.

He however called on all environmental health officers/sanitary inspectors across all levels of government to step up their routine sanitary inspection of premises in their various jurisdictions and ensure that everyone everywhere in Nigeria has access to safe toilets.

Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation Professor, Joseph Terlumun
said that the Nigerian government has consistently demonstrated its commitment to the development of the WASH Sector, exemplified by the various initiatives it has championed and supported over the years.

“Some of these include the declaration of a State of Emergency and implementation of the National Action Plan for the Revitalization of the Sector, the implementation of the Partnership for Expanded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) programme, and the launch of the ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ Campaign to end open defecation, which is backed by a Presidential Executive Order. In addition, the National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) survey was instituted to monitor progress on the achievement of the SDG 6.1 and 6.2 targets.” The Minister stated.

He further said the government will continue to engage all stakeholders and harmonize actions to end open defecation and improve sustainable and climate-resilient access to sanitation services in Nigeria.

“I wish to use this opportunity to reiterate Government’s commitment to support sub-national level initiatives towards ending open defecation and improving access to WASH services for the populace, In the light of the 2023 World Toilet Day theme “Accelerating Change” we must do all we can to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to safe water and sanitation.” He explained.

Chief WASH officer of UNICEF Nigeria, Dr Jean Bevan, said the agency will continue to support the Nigerian government and private sector entrepreneurs to build more toilets. Happy World Toilet Day, and let’s please accelerate the change.

“Everybody needs to get involved. And we really need to build more toilets and we need to employ these private entrepreneurs to do it. So that’s where my support is lying. I think we really need to support these businesses more and more. And there’s some fantastic technologies and I know some stalls at the back.” She explained.

Representative of World Bank, Awa Diagne, said that the World Bank will continue to be an implementing partner with the government on its vision of having a Nigeria where everyone has access to safely managed sanitation services.

“We need to continue to push a mindset shift when it comes to sanitation, that is not just the affair of the hospitals, but we all have a role to play. We need more financing and capacity building and thinking about the whole sanitation service.” He stated.

The 2023 World Toilet Day with the theme “Accelerating Change”, is an annual United Nations observance promoted through a worldwide public campaign that encourages action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.

It is marked on 19th November of every year as declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013.