By Tosin Kolade
Otukpo – Community Leaders in Benue and Cross River states on Wednesday pleaded with their state governments to pay up the counterpart funds to scale up sanitation and hygiene promotion.
They made this call at the ongoing Workshop on Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), organised by United Purpose, an NGO, and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources in Otukpo, Benue.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two states are benefiting from the Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria (RUSHPIN) Programme.
They say the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), the global body funding the programme had already threatened to withdraw funds for the second phase of the project.
According to them, paying the counterpart funds will go a long way to enable the inclusion of more Local Government Areas in the two states.
Mr Ayila Shiminenge, Leader in Paka Community, Gwer East in Benue, said with the introduction of the RUSHPIN programme, there has been a drastic reduction in water borne diseases and hospitalisation.
“Since the introduction of RUSHPIN programme in my community and other parts of the local government area, we have been taught on the importance of building and using toilets.
” Our children no longer fall ill from diarrhoea and cholera, the flies in the community has also reduced, we want the state government to pay up the pledge to enable more communities benefit from the programme.”
He explained that CLTS has triggered behavioural change among the communities with deliberate emphasis to build and use toilets.
Shiminenge urged the Benue government to live up to its pledge towards reducing open defection practice and scaling up hygiene promotion.
Mr Uno Ikop, a leader in Biakpan community, Bekwarra LGA, said with the introduction of the programme, more money was saved from frequent hospitalisation, adding that this has led to increase in productivity.
Ikop also called on all tiers of government to pay adequate attention to sanitation and hygiene, saying this would make Nigeria meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The document on National Roadmap on Making Nigeria Open Defecation-Free by 2025 shows that improved sanitation and hygiene is fundamental to child-survival, socio-economic development and well-being of Nigerians at large.
According to the report, access to improved sanitation has declined over time, with no fewer than 70 million people lacking access to improved sanitation and more than 45 million of them practicing open defecation in Nigeria.
The report emphasised that Community Led Total Sanitation has been proven to be an effective approach towards accelerating sanitation access in the country, having grown from 15 ODF communities in 2008 to over 14,000 in 2016.