The Federal Government, Tuesday, vowed to frontally confront sanitation challenges facing the nation, noting that a situation where over 4. 7 million Nigerians live without improved toilet and still practice open defecation was unacceptable.
Minister of State for Environment, Bar. Ikeazu Sharon, who made the remarks at the 2019 World Toilet Day commemoration in Abuja, lamented t that poor excreta disposal was responsible for high rate of diarrhoea disease that account for high morbidity and mortality among children under the age of five.
She warned that, "The sanitation crisis if allowed to continue will undermine the overreaching ambition of the 2030 agenda to build safe, more resilient societies on a healthy planet and tips means failure to attain the Sustainable Development Goal , SDG, 6, sanitation and water for all.
Speaking at the commemoration with theme; "Toilet for all" focusing on leaving no one behind, the minister said that access to sanitary facilities remains a mirage to a vast majority of our citizenry.
According to her, "Today an estimated 4.7 Million of our citizens live without improved toilet and many still practice open defecation using 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. According to the National Demographic and Health Survey, access to improved sanitation is still very poor below 36 % for majority of the populace.
"It is worthy to note that absence of adequate sanitary facilities in schools constitute a great threat to school enrolment, particularly for the female child. Therefore provision of sanitary facilities in schools must go hand in hand with other efforts to achieve Universal Basic Education in the country.
"One of the major consequences of poor excreta disposal is the high rate of diarrhoea disease which is the second cause of high morbidity and mortality 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 re-occurrence 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.
"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. 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.
"The community based waste management 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.
"The 12th National Council on Environment (NCE) held in Akure, Ondo State on 29th -31St October, 2018 approved and directed the Federal Ministry of Environment to develop a National Policy for the Declaration of National Emergency on Open defecation.
"The Federal Ministry of Environment through the Environmental Health Officers Registration Council (EHORECON) has promoted and strengthened the capacity of Environmental Health and Sanitation manpower Training institutions by equipping the practical demonstration facilities of Colleges of Health Technology at Keffi Nasarawa State, Kaltungo Gombe State, Kankia- Katsina State, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, Ugheli Delta State and Umudike Abia State."
While calling on stakeholders and Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, to join hands against the menace, the minister said, ." Evidently, sanitation is a cross cutting issue that requires active participation of various sectors of government, the private, NGOs, development partners e.t.c for reasonable impact to be made. In this regard,
"I invite the Private sector, NGOs, Development Partners etc to partner with my Ministry and Government at all levels in providing sanitary facilities for our communities, especially, the rural areas where open defecation is a norm.
"I, therefore challenge all the stakeholders on environment, particularly sanitation at National, State and Local Government levels not only to do the talking but take practical steps and actions individually and collectively as agents of change to ensure everyone has access to Eco-friendly sanitary facilities"