The Federal Government said on Friday it is looking for a legislated means to curb the menace of open defecation. We hope they build more public toilets across Nigerian cities.
Open defecation has grown to worrisome degree in Nigeria and there seems to be no end to it by the way it is going.
Therefore, the Federal Government has said an Executive Order shall be signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, to effect the punishment of individuals who have refused to use the toilet; a step it believed will help to eradicate the practice totally.
Nigeria has a 2025 national target of ending open defecation, according to the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, who told the press in Abuja, that the move is geared toward achieving that target. He said the Executive Order will instigate the needed discipline in Nigerians to promote good hygiene when it comes to defecation.
“In the national WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) action plan that we are promoting which the states are adopting, there is a provision for some legislation to be made against open defecation.
“And there is going to be an Executive Order signed by President Buhari to that effect, where there is a law against open defecation. Also, law enforcement agencies will do their bit.
“We need individuals and communities to have this behavioral change. It the responsibility of a household and for their well-being and dignity for them to imbibe the culture of building and looking for toilets to relieve themselves,” he said.
He also disclosed that the Federal Executive Council (FEC)has approved ‘use the toilet’ campaign, and it will be flagged off in commemoration of the World Toilet Day, come November 19, 2019. He added that idea is to educate the public on the ills of defecating openly.
“We are hoping that once the campaign gets into the mind of people, our job is done. So when the communities begin to see that this is not right, this behavior will change.
“Open defecation is a bad practice and should be stopped. We as governments at the federal and state levels have our own responsibility, where these facilities are not available we should make concerted efforts to provide an alternative,” he said.
In October 2019, Nigeria became the country with the highest number of people defecating openly, putting India to second place. It is estimated that over 50 million people in Nigeria practice open defecation; a situation that has been attributed to poor health and education, especially among children.
In 2014, the National Council of Water Resources prioritized the development of a roadmap towards eliminating open defecation, in line with United Nations global campaign to end open defecation.
With 2025, as target, the Roadmap provides a guide towards achieving an open defecation free country using many techniques that involve provision of sanitation facilities in public places; community led total sanitation; promotional and media campaigns; creating enabling environment; capacity building and coordination mechanism.
The Roadmap also provides the estimated cost of meeting the target by government of all levels and the private sector, in areas of construction of sanitation facilities in public and private places. The Roadmap also provides a basis for the development of the partnership for Expanded Water Supply and Sanitation (PEWASH) programme that was targeted at establishing multi-sectoral partnership between governments, development partners and the private sector.
They will all work to provide rural dwellers with adequate water supply to enable adequate hygienic attitude. The Federal Ministry of Water Resources will provide the enabling environment, leadership and coordination required in achieving this target by working with the communities, civil society, development agencies, the private sector and government at subnational levels.
It was upon this Roadmap that quest to end open defecation was established and launched in 2016.
To achieve the 2025 target, Nigeria needs to build 2 million toilets yearly, from 2019 to 2025, a task that will gulp estimated N959 billion. The government is expected to provide only about 25 percent of the fund, which is around N234 billion.
Head of WASH at UNICEF Nigeria, Zaid Jurji, said that the remaining 75 percent of the fund will be incurred by households.
“The majority of the costs to households will be spent on constructing toilets for those that don’t have them, while funds from the government will be spent on public projects including ensuring access to toilets facilities at public places,” he said.
As the campaign is set to take off on the 19th of November, lack of fund will pose a major challenge to the target. The campaign is mostly going to dwell on publicity and sensitization, since there is no fund to start the implementation of toilet building and water supply, especially in rural areas. The success of the 2025 target on open defecation in Nigeria depends mostly on the 75 percent of the needed fund that is expected to be raised through multi-sectoral partnership. Without the fund, people will have no alternative to open defecation, and no matter what the punishment by Executive Order may entail, the call of nature must be answered.