Open Defecation: FG To Ensure Adequate Enforcement Of Sanitation Laws

By Miriam Humbe

Minister of the Environment, Malam Balarabe Abbas has warned that issues of open defecation in Nigeria will no longer be business as usual as his Ministry will henceforth deploy all its regulatory framework to ensure adequate enforcement of sanitation laws in the country.

To this effect, the Minister 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.

The Minister said this at the 2023 World Toilet Day commemoration in Abuja on Tuesday.

The World Toilet Day 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.

This is aimed to raise awareness about the billions of people living without access to safely managed sanitation.

As part of the activities for the commemoration of this year’s event, the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Education carried out advocacy, sensitization and sanitary inspection of Federal Government Unity schools in FCT.

Findings from the sanitary inspection of Federal Government Unity schools in the FCT revealed the following that some of the toilets in the hostels in some of the schools visited were locked because they are not in good condition.

There was poor or inadequate water supply in some of the schools which affects the use and access to toilets by the students who obviously practice open defecation as there are evidence of presence of excreta in the surrounding environment.

Also observed was 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: “I wish to therefore use this opportunity to call on the Unity schools across the country which may likely have similar sanitation challenges to take note and improve on their sanitation situation.

“I wish to inform you all that my Ministry in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) will continue with the sanitary inspection of government schools across the country and reward the cleanest school at the end of the exercise as one of the post-World Toilet Day commemoration activities.”

Abbas solicited the support of Development Partners, NGOs CSOs, the Organized Private Sector, Community Leaders and indeed everyone to promote good sanitation and hygiene practices for overall environmental health protection.

The Minister reminded the stakeholders that the countdown to 2030 has begun and we must accelerate progress to ensure everyone has access to toilets by 2030.

He called on the organized private sector and commercial entities to support the government by contributing their quota to the establishment of functional toilet facilities across the country for general public use.

Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Terlumun Utsev said that the practice of open defecation was linked to sanitation related diseases which impacts negatively on our socio-economic development and aggravates poverty.

He said access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) are basic human rights which are critical to the socio-economic development of any nation.

The Minister said: “It also contributes to human capital development such as early childhood survival, health and educational attainment. Just like other members of the international community, Nigeria is committed to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of which target 6.2 for Sanitation seeks to “achieve by 2030, access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.”

The 2023 World Toilet Day coincides with the 4th year anniversary of the ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ Campaign, under the National programme to End Open Defecation in Nigeria.

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