Enugu , – The South Saharan Social Development Organisation (SSDO) and WaterAid Nigeria have advised communities in Enugu State to use by-laws and public sensitisation to tackle open defecation in the state.
The organisation gave the advice at the opening of a two-day sensitisation workshop for about 40 community and youth leaders, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) from communities in Enugu North Senatorial Zone.
Speaking at Ibegwa community, venue of the event, on Thursday, the Project Lead for African Sanitation Policy Guideline Project, Mr Udochukwu Egwim, said the workshop’s primary objective was to empower the communities and local government authorities to develop and implement an anti-open defecation by-law.
According to Egwim, the by-law and sensitisation will ensure that the participants join the campaign to end open defecation in their communities.
He said that the workshop was a community-led approach with leaders of the legislative council, president generals, women and youth leaders and WASH coordinators as well as CSO and CBO partners in attendance.
“Understanding this challenge, SSDO, in partnership with WaterAid Nigeria, under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project, organised this sanitation advocacy workshop to address the issue,” he said.
Egwim said that over 47 million Nigerians still practiced open defecation.
He said that about 47 per cent of the Enugu State citizenry still engage in open defecation.
“Open defecation poses a significant sanitation challenge in various communities across the state.
“It leads to adverse health effects and environmental pollution as well,” Egwim said.
The workshop facilitator, Mr Emmanuel Obuna, also spoke on the negative development emanating from the unhealthy practice and imperatives of curbing it at the community level.
Obuna, who is the Sanitation Officer of Enugu State Small Town Wash Agency, took the participants on the pivotal role of community-led sanitation and hygiene initiatives.
In a speech, a WASH consultant, Dr Boniface Umoh, said that the workshop provided a platform for participants to share their experiences on open defecation, which helped to foster a collective understanding of the challenges at hand.
Umoh, a senior lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, said that from the shared experiences, key factors contributing to open defecation were identified.
He listed them to include the lack of inclusive toilets for persons with disabilities.
Others are inadequate clean toilet facilities in government places and institutions and a shortage of toilets in public spaces, particularly for travellers.
Umoh also shared with the participants, the fundamental aspects that should be considered when developing a comprehensive by-law against open defecation.
The WASH Coordinator of Igbo-Eze North LGA, Chief Levi Idoko, underscored the need for cooperation and active involvement of government officials in making and enforcing relevant by-laws.
The participants were unanimous that enacting community by-laws and engaging town unions in markets and public places would facilitate the implementation of the by-laws to end open defecation.
A participant, Mr Nnanna Nwokorie, said that the audio-visual presentation helped him to understand the sense of urgency for the people to find a lasting solution to the menace.
Nwokorie said that the workshop and all the instruments of awareness deployed during the workshop reinforced the critical need for collective action.
Another participant, Chief Titus Anigozie, said that the workshop empowered community leaders on how to address the challenges of open defecation in their localities.
Anigozie further said that the event created awareness, built capacity and fostered community-led solutions toward ending the practice.
The communities targeted by the workshop included Obollo Orie and Obollo-Afor in Udenu LGA, Ihe and Ibagwa in Nsukka LGA and Amufie and Aji in Igbo-Eze North LGA. (NAN)(