The Kwara state government in a bid to tackle the menace of open defecation in the state has rolled out several programmes to reverse the situation, one of which is the “Clean Kwara Campaign”, billed to run from 2020 to 2030.
The Clean Kwara Campaign which kicked off in September 2020, marks the commencement of a decade of action against the practice of open defecation in the state.
The campaign is in addition to the construction of integrated modern public toilets in 2019 in some strategic parts of Ilorin, the state capital, to stop open defecation among the masses.
More toilets are also to be constructed in other senatorial districts across the state to further improve the people’s access to basic sanitation services particularly in the hinterlands.
In his address at the official flag off of the Clean Kwara campaign, Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq described as appalling the rating of the state in the SDGs including Goal 6, which is availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
AbdulRazaq, who was represented by his deputy, Kayode Alabi at the programme that coincided with the 5th anniversary of the SDGs, explained that his government had prioritised provision of water for all and sundry.
He said it was after this that the government realised the huge gap in the provision of sanitation services for the people.
AbdulRazaq said his administration embarked on the rehabilitation of several water works that had long collapsed, noting that the state had, since the inception of his government, made considerable progress in this respect.
“Last year November, we conducted what is called the Kwara-Social Assessment and Vulnerability (KW-SAVI) study which revealed something even more sordid.
“We established that more than 75 per cent of our schools have no access to potable water while 20 per cent have disused or non-functioning water hand pumps.
“The situation is grimmer with our healthcare facilities and hospitals because we discovered that up to 90 per cent of them lacked improved water supply with no hand washing facility.
“I must add that we have moved very quickly to address this yawning gap in the health sector with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is why we are so passionate about Kwara under our administration, keying into various national initiatives.
“Mention should therefore be made of SDG 17 which emphasises the importance of partnerships to strengthen the efforts concerning all the sustainable development goals,” AbdulRazaq said.
Also, Dr Jemilat Bio-Ibrahim, Special Adviser to Gov. AbdulRasaq on SDGs, whose office is handling the campaign, explained how the state would recommit itself to the global action to achieve sustainable development.
Bio-Ibrahim while presenting the roadmap for achieving the desired goal, stated that the plan would cut across the critical sectors of human development.
According to her, such sectors included agriculture, water, clean energy and environment protection, education, health and inclusion, and youth development.
Bio-Ibrahim announced that civil society organisations, development partners, and the private sector would be incorporated in the action because government at all levels could not do it alone.
She said the partnership would ultimately balance global challenges with local responsibilities and solutions.
The Minister of Water Resources, Mallam Suleiman Adamu, commended Kwara for being listed among the frontrunners that had taken all initiatives to launch the campaign at the state level.
Adamu said this was a clear demonstration of the kind of political commitment needed to reverse the appalling position of the state in open defecation practice and lack of access to basic sanitation services.
Adamu pledged that his ministry would provide necessary technical support for the state to record success in the campaign.
“We are indeed very grateful to them while we pledge to step up our effort to end open defecation in our state and uphold good hygiene.
“We appeal to the good and rich people of Kwara, private businesses, communities, and other corporate organizations operating in the state to also donate public toilet facilities to our community”, AbdulRazaq said.
The Commissioner for Environment, Mrs Julianah Oyedun, reiterated the commitment of government to address the challenge of open defecation, particularly with construction of more public toilets at strategic locations in Ilorin and other senatorial districts.
Oyedun urged the public to see the provision of good, standard, sanitary, and hygienic toilet facilities as a task that must be accomplished by all households even before the 2025 deadline set by the UN.
However, Dr Baba Yakubu, the Registrar, Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria (EHORECON), observed that nine qualified and licensed environmental officers were still inadequate in the state.
To achieve the lofty goal of open defecation free Kwara, Yakubu said the process of enforcing and admonition of the populace towards having at least one toilet in a household had become a sine qua non.
He said that “provision of sanitary toilets remains an important factor in ensuring public hygiene. Kwara cannot be lagging behind in the attainment of open defecation free goal by 2025 or before”.
“It is on this note that I want to passionately appeal and implore the working governor to urgently recruit more environmental officers to help drive the objective and the mission of the clean, neat, tidy and open defecation free Kwara,” Yakubu said.