Despite campaigns to stop open defecation, 27 out of the 774 local governments in Nigeria still practice open defecation with only 4 per cent Open Defecation Free (ODF), WASHMATA Initiative, a Nigeria-based NGO and Leadership in Environment and Development (LEAD) Anglophone West Africa, have revealed.
This is as Benue and Katsina top list of states with the LGAs that form the 96 per cent still practicing open defection.
This was contained in a communiqué signed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), WASH Matter Initiatives, Dr. Boluwaji Onabolu and the Regional Program Director of LEAD, Mrs. Maureen Akintayo, at the end of its panel discussion titled: WASH Matters Hard Talk held in Abuja by Nigerian WASH professionals drawn from the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agencies comprising Katsina, Zamfara, Benue, Plateau, Adamwa and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Panelists included: GM Benue RUWASSA, Mrs. Torkwase Ikyaator;
Executive Director (ED), FCT RUWASSA, Dr. M. Dan Hassan; ED Katsina RUWASSA, Engr. Aminu Dayyabu; Plateau RUWASSA, Engr. Peter Kassam; Zamfara RUWATSAN, Alhaji Sani Yaro; and Adamawa RUWASSA, Engr. Halil Mohammed.
According to the communiqué, the panelists shared innovations and best practices including functional WASH LGA departments, engagement with faith based organisations and linking sanitation promotion to Small and Medium Entreprise (SME) development.
They noted that 24.4 per cent of 47 million Nigerians were yet to begin to climb the sanitation ladder posing a major challenges to health, education, nutrition and poverty indices in the country.
“It is possible to address this backlog by the end of 2025, if each state will commit to achieving an open defecation free status in an average of two LGAs per year to achieve the goal of the Clean Nigeria campaign of Federal Government of Nigeria.
“Alarmingly, with the advent of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, sanitation and hygiene and water supply are essential services that can make the difference between life and death ; particularly as human excreta has been identified as a possible route of transmission of the virus,” the communique read in part.
Panelists also emphasized that in order to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic, sanitation services delivery must be sped up with the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Infection Prevention and Control of Covid-19 training for the WASH field workers.
The communique also emphasized the need for the urgent review of the sanitation promotion methods to enhance compliance with Covid-19 prevention measures, the inclusion of state WASH agencies in Covid-19 task teams, development of state wide multi-level monitoring and reporting systems, increased synergy between the various donor and government supported WASH programs, organized private sector participation, documentation of best practices, leadership training and peer to peer learning through a community of practice.
The programme was attended by various professionals from the WASH and health sector including representative of the European Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Kate Kanebi; Executive Secretary, Lagos Water Regulatory Commission, Mrs. Funke Adepoju; representative of the Organised Private Sector for WASH Dr. Nicholas Igwe and the Coordinator, FCT Covid-19 Situation Room, Dr. Jumai Ahmadu.