Stakeholders in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector have bemoaned the challenges of hand washing practices with soap in the country.
Mr Emmanuel Awe, the Director, Water Quality Control and Sanitation in the Ministry of Water Resources said this while declaring open the Nigeria Handwashing Roundtable meeting on Wednesday in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by the National Task Group on Sanitation (NTGS) with support of the Global Handwashing Partnership and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).
The meeting was aimed at reviewing the challenges and how to effectively create awareness on the practice of hand washing with soap.
“In the WASH sector, sanitation is often seen as the orphan, receiving little attention and funding.
“But much more so is hygiene, which is indicated under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) six as availability of hand washing facilities with soap and water.
“Hand washing with soap is considered as an affordable, accessible “do-it-yourself” vaccine for sanitation and hygiene related diseases like diarrhea, cholera, typhoid fever among others that are prevalent in our communities.
“It is estimated to cut death from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by a quarter. It also helps to ensure the sustenance of effort to end Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) which are endemic in some communities,” he said.
Awe said in Nigeria, about 100,000 children under the age of five die annually due to diseases caused by poor sanitation and unhygienic practices, which about 33 per cent of the children are stunted, limiting their mental development.
The director said according to the 2018, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) Report, national access to basic hygiene services was 21 per cent with an estimated 150 million people lacking access.
“In schools and health care facilities, access to basic hygiene is 28 per cent and 40 per cent respectively, while only five per cent of public places such as markets and parks have hygiene facilities.
“The absence of WASH facilities, including hand washing stations in schools, healthcare facilities and workplaces are equity issues for girls and women, particularly for menstrual hygiene management.
“The availability of hand washing stations can stop the spread of diseases in these setting. It must be noted that the benefits accruable through provision of these facilities depends on the utilisation.
“Behaviour change is required for people to wash their hands consistently at key times,” Awe said.
Mrs Chizoma Opara, the Acting Coordinator Clean Nigeria, said that the ‘Clean Nigeria:Use the Toilet’ campaign under the National Programme was aimed at ending open defecation by 2025.
Opara said that the campaign would be officially launched on Nov. 19 by President Muhammadu Buhari to improve sanitation services in the country.
“The campaign will have integral component, hygiene promotion with emphasis on hand washing at critical times to break oral-route diseases transmission.’’
Mr Ron Clemmer, the Global Handwashing Partnership, Washington, U.S., said that hand washing was critical all the time in households, schools, healthcare, workplaces and emergency situations.
Clemmer noted that only 19 per cent of the world’s population particularly wash their hands with soap after contact with feaces.
He noted that only 20 per cent of people wash hands before preparing food, while only 31 per cent of health workers practices proper hand hygiene at critical time.
He said “findings shows that lack of hand washing with soap is a global risk present in all regions and it is a reminder that this nexus of risk is relevant to all countries, not just the poorest.’’
Mrs Elizabeth Warmera, a representative of Water Supply, Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) Office, Geneva, Switzerland said that the SDG six for Water and Sanitation, hand washing with soap was an essential factor.
She said this contributed to other SDGs on zero hunger, child survival, nutrition, good health, among others.
“This has the power to improve access to education for children, protect the health of patients and reduce inequalities which cuts across other goals,” she said.
Stakeholders Identify Cause Of Open Defecation’s High Rate …Fingers Lack Of Toilet Facilities
As Rivers State and Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark the World Toilet Day, some stakeholders in Rivers State are blaming the high rate of open defecation on the lack of toilet facilities in strategic locations across the state.
A cross section of stakeholders, who spoke to, The Tide correspondents on the issue said “most public and private places have no toilet facilities, stressing that the situation makes some people to defecate in the open.
They stressed the need for the government and private sectors to provide toilet facilities in places such as markets, parks, schools, stadia, among others.
They also called for sensitization on the negative effects of open defecation.
On his part, Mr. Innocent Ezekiel, a food vendor at Mile I flyover said “people at the park need to be enlightened on why they should not defecate openly, adding that inspite of the fact that there was a toilet facility, people at the Park go about defecating openly.
According to him, it is very disheartening to see people around the park go about defecating openly when they know very well that there is a public toilet around the Park.
Also speaking, another trader Mr Ifeanyi Ugwu, said: “open defecation brings discomfort, stressing that there is a need for people to be sensitised to know that indiscriminate disposal of faeces can lead to cholera, diahorea, typhoid and other diseases.
Also speaking, Mr Innocent Okorie, called for a law that will punish defecating in the open. According to him, most health related issues have been linked to open defecation stressing that time has come for the government to go tough on those who defecate openly.
For Michael Prince, he stated thus: The government should provide toilets at every corner. “the reason why people defecate around this area is because the government did not provide any toilet facility.”
On his part, Mr James Friday, called for collaboration between the state government and the various local government councils in the provision of toilet facilities across the state.
Friday also stressed the need for high level sensitization in the riverine local government areas with a view to persuading the people to change their habit of defecating into the river.
Also speaking, Chukwuemeka Iruozo, said the sooner Rivers State key into the clean Nigeria programme, the better will be for the society.
Iruozo also called for stiffer penalties for persons who embark in open defecation.
By: Chioma Miracle Peters & Odinakachi Oko
World Toilet Day: Akulga To End Open Defecation By 2023
The Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State says it will end open defecation in all communities in the area by 2023.
The Council Chairman, Hon. Roland Sekibo, said this in Abonnema headquarters of the local government council, during the 2019 World Toilet Day celebration in the area.
Sekibo who was represented by the vice chairman of the council, Mrs Carolina West, said the council is committed towards ending open defecation in the area.
According to him, as part of the commitment, a bill to criminalise open defecation has been sent to the local government legislative assembly.
The council also sponsored students from the area to the national open defecation quiz competition in which the students came with flying colours.
In her keynote address, the wife of the council chairman, Mrs Binaebi Sekibo said ending open defecation in the area will lead to a 36 per cent reduction in death especially among children under five years of age.
Mrs Sekibo represented by Hon. Tobins Tobins said the council can also end open defecation by stopping the construction of new pier latrines and dismantling the existing ones, through the construction of eco-friendly latrines.
According to her; ending this practice would transform the lives of women and girls, who face the daily indignity of finding somewhere to go each day for their basic needs, risking sexual harassment and abuse for not having a toilet.
“We will change the lives for the many girls who abandon schools due to the lack of basic menstrual hygiene and sanitation activities” she said.
She however expressed hope that with the progress made so far, the area would soon become Open Defecation Free (ODF).
“We are making progress. Communities such as; Obonnoma, Soku, Elem Sungama, Offoin Ama and Idama have been declared open defecation free courtesy of UNICEF-NDSP,” “she said.
Also speaking, the General Manager of the Rivers State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation agency (RUWASSA), Mr. Napoleon Adah, thanked the council or the effort to make AKULGA open defecation free.
Adah, who was represented by Mrs Safe Hart said the celebration was to ensure that no one is left behind.
According to him, it is a celebration to promote good hygiene practices, stressing that time has come for everyone’s in the area to key into the campaign.
Earlier, the coordinator of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) unit AKULGA, Mrs Ifeoma Nwogu, said children and youths are worst affected by inadequate sanitation and open defecation.
While thanking the council chairman for the event, Nwogu stressed the need for the celebration to be held annually in the area.
Rivers Environment, Ogoni Clean-Up Top Discussions At Correspondents’ Week
Rivers State Environment, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report and Ogoni clean-up will top discussions at the 2019 Press Week of the Correspondent Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
This was contained in a statement, jointly signed by Ignatius Chukwu, Chairman, organising committee and Ernest Chinwo, Chairman correspondent Chapel of the NUJ.
According to the statement, the theme of the week is: ‘Role of Media in the Rivers Environment.’
This is expected to help us take closer look at environment issues and examine our role in fighting for a better environment.” it said.
The opening ceremony of the week is expected to hold today, Port Harcourt at the Hotel Presidential, with Ibofiri Bobmanuel, Chief Executive Officer, Bobmanuel Tractor Limited as chairman.
An environmental rights activist, Celestine Akpobari will deliver a technical paper on Rivers Environment, while Dr. Ferdinand Giadom, an environment expert from the University of Port Harcourt, will review the paper.
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