Health and environmen
tal experts have called on governments across the country to take urgent steps to curb the menace of open defecation prevalent in the country.
In a nationwide survey they said this was necessary to guard against outbreak of diseases especially as the rainy season set in.
Department of Public Health, University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH), Dr Okon Udom, told our correspondent that open defecation should be discouraged by all governments.
He said open defecation was the major cause of diarrhoea and cholera.
He, therefore, suggested the building of toilets in public places and street corners.
Executive Director, Community Health, Education and Development in Africa, a Non-Governmental Organisation, Dr Cliff Okafor, said open defecation was a major cause of hand-to-mouth disease.
Okafor, a medical practitioner, also said that open defecation was also a terrible source of pollution.
“When people defecate in open places, flies perch on it and bring it back to our food, plates and homes.
“This is why we have high cases of typhoid, dysentery in this country.
“In open defecation, hook worm gets to the ground and gets back to the individual through the foot and other parts of the body, especially, intestine,” he said.
Okafor said that enlightenment campaigns should be carried out in schools, to educate pupils and students on the dangers of open defecation.
“There is need to carry out public education in our schools. We should educate our children to impress on the older people to stop the habit.
“I am sure this will assist to stop the bad habit among the older people,” he said.
Okafor also called for regular water supply and drinking of good water by the people.
He said that such would stop water-borne diseases in the country.
In addition, he said, such facilities must have adequate running water and called on governments at all levels to provide public lavatories and running water in all public institutions, to avoid outbreak of diseases among citizens especially in children.
The survey also revealed that most people indulged in open defecation due to lack of toilet facilities in their houses or work place.
Similarly, there is a dearth of toilets in public places in most major cities and towns across the country.
A 24-year-old mechanic in Port Harcourt, Mr Kingsley Ubah, said that he indulged in open defecation because there was no toilet in his rented apartment.
“Where I live in Diobu, Port Harcourt, there is no toilet in the compound. The tenants resort to self-help by going to other homes, while we defecate in the open near our workshop.
“I am aware it is a bad habit and not environment friendly, but we call on government to ensure that every house has a toilet,” he said.
Also Mr Michael Etim said that most travellers coming into the city with nowhere to stay usually defecate into drains, cellophane bags and on roadside, as there were no public toilets.
“Most people coming into the capital city from rural areas regard open defecation as normal practice.
“Public toilet is necessary at all strategic locations in the metropolis to minimise occurrence of open defecation,” Etim said.
He added that in most rural settings and coastal communities, open defecation in the nearby bush or river bank was a normal culture.
Another respondent, Miss Ekaette Bassey, said that most landlords in cluster areas of the town did not have good toilet system for their tenants.
Bassey said that most residential buildings had over 20 tenants with only one toilet to serve all of them.
She observed that in such compound, people would resort to defecating openly as the toilet facility was insufficient for the occupants.
A nurse, Mrs Tessy Alaba, said, “People who live in densely populated areas and over-populated apartments such as ‘face-me-I-face-you’ are rated high among those that practice open defecation.
“The number of toilet facilities is not adequate for the great number of people living there.
“Again, some houses that were built many years ago may either not have modern toilet facilities or have toilet facilities that are not functional or filled up.
“This compels the occupants to seek alternative defecating places, and this is where the issue of awareness comes in.
“Many people may not be aware of the implications of defecating anyhow and anywhere; more so, some people may know but do not care,’’ Alaba said.
The Lagos State Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Babatunde Adejare, late in 2015, said that the ministry had concluded work on the Master Plan for the provision of public toilets, all over Lagos.
“There is need for provision of public toilets throughout Lagos State, and not just to be restricted to the Parks and Gardens alone.
“The Master Plan contains the sites and locations for public toilets within and around the metropolis.
Adejare said that the ministry would also encourage market women and shop owners to provide mobile toilets for their use, and for the use of their customers.
Similarly, the Jigawa Ministry for Local Government and Community Development said that it was collaborating with Non-Governmental Organisations and other Development Partners to discourage open defecation in the state.
Alhaji Yakubu Auyo, the Director of Primary Health Care in the Ministry, who spoke on behalf of the Commissioner, Alhaji Ahmed Muhammad, told NAN in Dutse that the ministry had established Water and Sanitation Departments in all the 27 local government areas of the state, with a view to ensuring good sanitation of the environment.
He said that N200,000 was earmarked for each of the councils for the monthly sanitation exercise, to ensure a clean environment and campaign against open defecation.
According to him, the council had constructed water and sanitation facilities in the local government areas, to prevent open
defecation in markets, motor parks and places of worship.
The commissioner said that UNICEF was supporting the ministry under the State Hygiene and Water Sanitation in Nigeria (SHAWN) working in some communities to discourage open defecation.
“The organisation also taught the communities how to construct pit latrines.”
In Maiduguri, the Borno State Environmental Protection Agency (BOESPA) said it would employ no fewer than 5,000 additional youths as street vanguards, to check the menace of open defecation and environmental abusers.
The Sole Coordinator of the Agency, Alhaji Nasiru Surundi, told NAN in Maiduguri that the gesture was part of the measures adopted by BOSEPA to discourage such abusers of the environment.
Surundi said that N600 million had been spent on procurement of high-quality sanitation equipment to enhance
Dangers Of Open Defecation
The story was told of a man in Yakkur Local Government Area of Cross River State who was mistakenly shot dead by a hunter while defecating in a nearby forest.
The story was a reflection of the dangers, the society faces everyday from open defecation. It would be noted that by the first of October, 2019, India will exit its ranking as a nation with the largest number of persons practising open defecation.
The planned exist of India will create a void that will be filled by no less a nation than Nigeria.
Nigeria is currently second in ranking to India which occupies the number one spot in the world as far as open defeacation is concerned.
Critics say that the up- coming development will not only dent the image of the country abroad, but add to her misery index locally.
Statistics made available to newsmen at a recent National Media Dialogue on Sanitation organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Calabar, Cross River State, shows that Nigeria with a population of over 200 million people has a sizeable number of her citizens practising open defecation.
According to the report, one in three Nigerians has no access to basic drinking water, while 47 million defecate in the open.
The report also shows that 33 million Nigerians use unimproved toilets, while on average, people living in rural areas have access to only 4 litres of water per capita each day.
It shows that only 34 per cent of schools and 12 per cent of hospitals have access to basic sanitation.
It would be noted that out of the 774 Local Government Areas in the country, only 13 have been certified Open Defecation Free (ODF).
Six of these, however are in Cross River State, while in Rivers State, Opobo/Nkoro and Akuku-Toru Local Government Areas which keyed into the programme are yet to attain the ODF status.
In Cross River State, the six local government areas are Obaniku, Yakkur and Ikom.
The rest are Bekwaru, Boki and Yalla Local Government Areas.
Sources further informed The Tide that the dangers associated with the situation were responsible for the current move by the government to end open defecation by 2025.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, recently launched the “Clean-Up Nigeria: Use The Toilet Campaign, with the mandate to mobilise Nigerians towards attaining the status of Open Defecation Free nation by 2025.
Information also revealed that the government has set aside N10 billion to kick start the campaign
Speaking at the National Media Dialogue on Sanitation: Clean-Up Nigeria: Use The Toilet Campaign in Calabar, the Head, Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information, Abuja, Mr. Olumide Osanyipeju said that the government is determined to get 47 million Nigerians to use the toilets by 2025.
Osanyipeju however said that to achieve the target, there must be vigorous campaign for behavioural change among Nigerians.
According to him, the nation will be further embarrassed when a new ranking is done this year, and described the Clean-Up Nigeria: Use The Toilet Campaign as timely.
He listed the dangers of open defecation to include poor nutrition, and adverse health conditions; “open defecation is dangerous as it spreads Cholera, Typhoid and other diseases.
“There is need for awareness on impact of open defecation in Nigeria”, he said.
He said that the media dialogue was to create awareness on the Clean-Up Nigeria: Use The Toilet Campaign” with a view to changing people’s behaviour on sanitation and health.
A communication specalist at UNICEF, Geoffrey Njoku said that if nothing is done about it, the situation will further compound the misery index of the country.
Njoku said that it was against this background that UNICEF is working with relevant organisations to put sanitation on the front burner of national discourse.
He said that the National Media Dialogue on Sanitation with the theme: Clean-Up Nigeria: Use The Toilet in Calabar was the third in the series organised by UNICEF round the country.
He described as terrible, India exiting as the number one ranked nation in the world by October, adding that it is the responsibility of every Nigerian to ensure that the country moves away from where it is now to Open Defecation Free nation by 2025.
He however added that atitudinal change is needed to achieve it.
Speaking on the overview of “Clean-Up Nigeria: Use The Toilet Campaign and how communities become ODF, a Water Sanitation and Health (WASH) specialist at UNICEF, Bioye Ogunjobi said that time has come for critical minds across the country to be engaged with a view to solving the open defecation problem by 2025.
Ogunjobi said that, the tendency is for everyone to work towards checking open defecation in rural communities, adding that the campaign was to increase access to improve sanitation especially in the rural areas.
He said that the priorities are to eliminate open defecation by 2025, bring water sanitation and hygiene to disadvantaged communities in the rural areas, improving access to safe water and sanitation in schools and health care facilities as well as create awareness and promote sanitation and hygiene in society.
Also speaking, Dr Nicholas Igwe of Zenith Water Project Limited said that the private sector must play critical role in the attainment of ODF Nigeria by 2025.
Igwe, who spoke on the link between Rural and Urban Sanitation: What Can the Private Sector Do? said that the private sector must mobilise resources to build toilet facilities in all public places in the country.
The expert also called for decentralisation of sewage disposal system in the country.
Just as the experts have said, the risk associated with open defecation is common in our communities.
Stories have been told of deaths caused by snake bites as a result of open defecation and accidental shooting of persons who practise open defecation in the bush by hunters.
The latest is the increasing number of rape cases in the communities caused by open defecation.
The dangers are enormous and the society must rise up to check the trend.
NIHSA Alerts On More Floods
The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) has warned Nigerians to be prepared for more floods due to high rainfall intensity of long duration in the country.
Mr Clement Nze, the Director General of the agency gave the warning while briefing newsmen in Abuja.
Nze said that the warning became necessary as it served to alert Nigerians that the country would soon experience the peak of flooding season for the year 2019.
“The localised urban flooding incidents being witnessed in some cities and communities in the country are expected to continue.
“The flooding incidents are due to high rainfall intensity of long duration, rainstorms, blockage of drainage system and poor urban planning resulting in erection of structures within the floodplains and waterways.
“River flooding as well as coastal flooding is expected to come into place as the nation approaches the peak of raining season.
“Therefore, states and local governments should endeavour to remove structures built within the floodplains, clear blocked drainage, culverts and other waterways,” he said.
Nze said that the agency was closely monitoring the flooding across the country with the attendant loss of lives and property.
He said that the flooding were manifesting as predicted by the agency.
“This means that the relevant stakeholders, especially the individuals and state governments have failed to heed the non-adherence to flood predictions for 2019.
“Thereby resulting in avoidable flooding incidents leading to loss of lives and property, disruption of economic activities and loss of several hectares of agricultural lands,” he said.
The director general said that since 2013, the agency had continued to publish Annual Flood Outlook (AFO), following the devastating effect of the 2012 flood.
He said that the AFO report and effective sensitisation campaign by the agency had been saving the country from huge revenue losses due to flooding.
He said that AFO was a means of producing early flood warning information for stakeholders to use as yardstick for taking action to mitigate flood related disasters.
FG’s Clean-Up Nigeria Campaign To Gulp N900bn
The Federal Government says, the country requires the sum of N900 billion to execute the “clean-up Nigeria: Use the Toilet campaign.
The campaign is aimed at ensuring that Nigeria attains the status of an open defecation free (ODF) nation by 2025.
The Chief Scientific officer, Federal Ministry Of Water Resources, Mrs Yemisi Akpa, who disclosed this at a media dulogue on sanitation: “Clean Nigeria: Use The Toilet Campaign” in Calabar, Cross River State, said that the government requires N10 billion annually to achieve the target.
Mrs Akpa said that with the approval of N10 billion by the Federal Government towards the clean Nigeria: Use The Toilet Campaign, it beholves one state government in the country to also set a site resources towards the campaign which will soon be launched at the national and state levels.
She listed the benefits of the campaign to include improved sanitation, businesses, education healthcare services and productivity.
Meanwhile government at all levels in the country have been urged to give more attention to the employment of Environmental Health Workers.
This was part of the decision reached at a media dialogue on sanitation in Calabar, Cross Rivers State.
The Conference said that the dearth of environment health workers in the various states of the Federation is hampering the campaign against poor sanitation habits in the country.
The stakeholders also urged for more funding of the environment and health sectors, while those in position of authorities must implement decisions that will improve Nigeria rating is an Open Defeacation free a (ODF) nation by 2025.
Also speaking, Dr. Ibrahim Khali Conteh, Chief Fied of Field Office United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Enugu said that the media dialogue which is the third so far organised by the organization this year was targeted at achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) Nigeria by 2025 as well as improved overall sanitation in the country.
Dr. Conteh said that the country must have toilets facilities in all public places such as; markets, schools and commended the Federal Government for taking proactive steps to achieve the clean Nigeria campaign.
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