Issues in FG’s plan to end open defecation by 2025

In order to end open defecation, the federal government has put measures in place to end open defecation in Nigeria by 2025 and attain the SDG goals by 2030. HELEN OJI reports.


Access to sanitary facilities remains a mirage to a vast majority of Nigerians.

An estimated 673 million people are practicing open defecation globally of which 46 million are Nigerians which ranked among the countries with the highest number of people involved in this act. The practice of open defecation due to non-availability of sanitation and hygiene facilities is linked to sanitation related diseases, poor educational outcome and loss of productivity.

Besides these are the lack of dignity, inconvenience and violence experienced by women and girls, when practicing open defecation. The theme for this year’s World Toilet Day ‘’Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change’’ focuses on drawing attention to adverse impacts of climate change on sanitation systems.

The theme is quite apt as it draws attention to the fact that climate change is getting worse, flood, drought, and rising sea levels are threatening sanitation systems. It also underscores the necessity for technologically sound structures to be put in place for containment, collection and treatment of human waste for proper waste management and sanitary hygiene practices.

it is important to note that out of the world’s 7.8 billion people, 4.2 billion still defecate in the open. Poor sanitation increases the risk of disease and malnutrition, especially for women and children.

This is a very disturbing situation and totally unacceptable. Sanitation is a global development priority, this is why in 2013, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated 19 November every year as World Toilet Day to raise awareness on the importance of toilets and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.

To overcome this global crisis, the UN has also established a target dedicated to sanitation in the form of SDG to ensure access to water and sanitation for all, that everyone has access to toilets by 2030. We must therefore double our efforts to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to safe toilets.

47 million Nigerians practice open defecation

According to the Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood ABUBAKAR, said that 47 million Nigerians still practice open defecation, hence many people still use the bush and water bodies as their regular means for excreta disposal.

Many institutions do not have sanitary facilities and where they exist they are either not functioning or misused; most urban areas do not have sewerage systems, safe collection of sewage and disposal therefore, become a huge challenge as many of the bodies of water including rivers and streams become a repository for sewage and wastewater.

He noted that sanitation is a cross cutting issue that requires active participation of various sectors of Government as well as Development Partners, NGOs, CBOs, local communities etc, for reasonable impact to be made. In this vain, I invite the Private Sector and other stakeholders to partner with the Ministry and Government at all levels in providing sanitary facilities for our communities especially the rural areas where open defecation is a norm.

He stated that one of the major consequences of poor excreta and sewage disposal is the high rate of diarrhoea disease which is the second cause of high morbidity and mortality rates amongst children under the age of five. The persistent re-occurrence of annual incidences of Cholera outbreak in some of our States and the occurrence and recurrence of other excreta related diseases are also manifestations of inadequate toilet facilities. Yet this could also be prevented through safe excreta disposal by every individual.

Specifically, the Federal Government of Nigeria is committed to addressing the sanitation challenges including ending open defecation in the country and ensuring proper management of excreta.

This commitment is demonstrated by Mr. President’s declaration of state of emergency on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in the Country and signing of the Executive Order no 009 2019 on Open Defecation Free Nigeria by 2025 on 20th November, 2019.

Equally the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with critical stakeholders has reviewed and validated the 2005 National Environmental Sanitation Policy including its policy guidelines on safe excreta and sewage disposal aimed at addressing the challenges of open defecation in the country.

Promoting safety

Abubakar stressed that it is a community based intervention on control of Open Defecation programme as well as the Clean and Green Programme of the Ministry are aimed among others at promoting the provision of safe and adequate toilets across the country, particularly in public places and ensuring proper excreta management in order to end open defecation in Nigeria by 2025.

“The Ministry recently signed an MoU with Center for Science and Environment, India on technology transfer, technical assistance, capacity building and research development in areas of water, sanitation and environmental management.

The Centre will be conducting a specialized training on toilet design and faecal sludge management and reuse for at least fifty (50) Nigerian officials comprising of Environmental Health Officers and Sanitation Desk Officers across the 36 States Ministries of Environment and FCT, as well as members of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on National Environmental Sanitation in December, 2020.

Sensitisation and Sanitary Inspection

“Ministry’s commitment to open defecation free Nigeria by 2025, the Ministry has within the past one year also constructed and handed over modern public toilets to State Governments. These toilets which are components of the Ministry’s Community Based Waste Management programme are to be managed by private sector operators for viability and sustainability. Other toilet projects are at various stages of completion and it is our expectation that this will be replicated in all the Local Governments of the federation,” he added.

“The stakeholders in the environment sector have carried out a series of activities to mark the 2020 World Toilet DayAdvocacy, Sensitization and Sanitary Inspection of Toilets in Federal Government office premises and Unity Schools in FCT. Sanitary Inspection of Karu Abattoir and Sensitization of Management. Community Outreach, Sensitization campaign to open defecation practicing communities in Nyanya and Jabi, AMAC.

The Minister call on the MDAs call on the Private Sector, Development Partners, NGOs, CBOs, Professional bodies e.t.c to partner with the environment on this laudable initiative and to ensure that toilets within their facilities are open to all staff and visitors and the unity schools across the country which may likely have similar sanitation challenges with unity schools in the F.C.T. to take note and improve on the sanitation systems in their schools.

The Ministry has embarked on sanitary inspection in collaboration with stakeholders, sanitary inspection of other MDAs not covered during this exercise. Grass root mobilization, aggressive sensitization and awareness campaigns on dangers of open defecation, training of community volunteers on construction of simple and affordable toilets, training of Sanitation Desk Officers across the country on fecal sludge management, construction of public toilets in public places under PPP arrangement, Construction of biogas plants in various correctional centres across the country.

At the community level in order to sensitize the citizens at the grass root on the importance of having and using the toilet and also to ensure that our community sanitation systems are safe and sustainable for the overall protection of the ecosystem.

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