A GROUP, Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Development Awareness (CESDA) has partnered with the European Union (EU) and British Council to end open defecation in Abuja.
The partnership was part of activities to promote Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The Executive Director of CESDA, Olusola Babalola, said during the event on Thursday, December 8, in Abuja, that persistent outbreak of cholera and reported cases of rampant open defecation in the FCT prompted the partnership.
According to him, the country has witnessed about 3,000 deaths in the past 10 months due to the scourge of Cholera caused by open defecation.
“Presently, Nigeria is leading global demographics in open defecation as outbreak of cholera is becoming alarming with close to three thousands deaths recorded in the last 10 months in Nigeria,” Babalola said.
“Unfortunately, efforts to stem the tide of open defecation even in the FCT have not yielded much. This blight has among other issues, put Nigeria in negative limelight in comity of world nations.”
He said all the relevant stakeholders had agreed to work in synergy as part of efforts to end open defecation in the territory.
Part of the efforts, he disclosed would include setting up of WASH clubs across secondary schools in the FCT to drive the campaign.
This, he noted, would enable better sensitization against open defecation.
In attendance during the meeting were representatives of the international partners, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, FCT Health and Human Development Secretariat, FCT Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), National Orientation Agency and Market Women Association.
In her remarks, the Deputy Director of FCT RUWASSA, Chy Obrike noted that collaboration by government agencies and NGOs was key to addressing the health challenges in Abuja.
She said it would help stakeholders to effectively capture the WASH needs of the people.
Obrike commended CESDA’s plan to set up WASH clubs in schools while lamenting poor sanitation in several schools in the FCT.
“Its good what CESDA is doing to focus on schools. That will fill a gap. Because we have found with dismay that some schools don’t have WASH facilities. The gap goes down to how we execute projects in this nation without putting sanitation and hygiene into context”.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on November 20, 2019 signed an Executive Order 009 entitled, “The open Defecation-Free Nigeria by 2025 and Other Related Matters” to eliminate the practice of open defecation nationwide.
The commitment to end open defecation is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
But findings from 2021 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM), revealed that the situation of WASH services in the country remained far from achieving the SDG targets.
According to the findings; “only 10 percent of the population have access to complete basic water, sanitation, and hygiene services, using the global JMP definitions. Those living in rural areas are three times more disadvantaged than those in urban areas”.
While reviewing the nation’s environmental regulations, the Executive Director of Social-Economic Research and Development Centre, Tijani Abdulkareem, said there was need for more responsible actions to be taken by both stakeholders and the entire public.
“It is only stringently enforced laws that could provide solutions for the myriad of environmental problems daily confronting the nation.This can only be possible if policy objectives of the extant laws are adequately promoted by enforcement agencies”, he added.