27 November 2012

Nigeria: 'Nigerians Lack Access to Functional Toilets

The Registrar of Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria, Mr. Augustine Ebisike, has said that more Nigerians have access to mobile phones than functional toilets.

Ebisike stated this during a media briefing to commemorate the World Toilet Day at First Forty Hotels, Wuse II, Abuja.

"The sick and the elderly people face special difficulty and a loss of dignity when sanitation facilities were not available nearby.

The Registrar said the World Toilet Day was set aside by United Nations "for the world to take a break and think of the essential nature of the toilet and its significance in our life and in the protection of public health."

He noted that culturally, people would not want to talk about toilet because it was something that was considered dirty. "It is an integral part of life. People defecate indiscriminately and open defecation, which one of the problems they have to contend with in the society.

Ebisike said over 40 per cent of Nigerians do not use toilet, saying whatever resulted from that should be handled in a manner that would not be a threat to public health.

According to him, investment as low as a dollar on sanitation yielded as much as six dollars in savings, adding that this savings made good economic sense as it was one of the best ways of fighting poverty.

He stated that the inability of the local government to tackle sanitation as their responsibility, as enshrined in the 1999 constitution was a major setback.

The Federal Ministry of Environment, he said produced the National Environmental Sanitation Policy 2005, which was within its mandate to show policy directive in this sector. "Unfortunately, seven years after this policy, the LGAs were yet to make desired impact as there is dearth of adequate manpower for Environmental Health Officers in most of the states and LGAs nationwide."

The Registrar further stressed that "in line with the Transformation Agenda of the present administration, it is important that we transform the toilet subsector with deliberate policy change to focus special attention on a policy for national coverage of latrines in both rural and urban areas."

Ebisike, however, hinted that his profession had mobilised members in the LGAs to focus special attention on the provision of toilets in 2013 as part of the profession's contribution to its urgent need.

He called on the Press to see the need to better highlight on mass provision of toilets in Nigeria, which he described as the cheapest way to economic transformation and poverty alleviation.

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