ABUJA – Nigeria is still on track to ending open defecation before the 2025 deadline, an official of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources has said.
Mr Salisu Lonis, the Secretary, National Task Group on Sanitation (NTGS), said this at a “Roadmap Towards Ending Open Defecation by 2025’’meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
Lonis said that the country had keyed into the UN End-Open-Defecation and Global Hand Washing Campaigns as processes to eliminate transmission of water borne diseases.
He said that government was collaborating with development partners to create awareness on access to water and sanitation practices in public places.
According to him, open defecation is still the leading cause of preventable deaths such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhea, especially among children.
The secretary said that the outcome of the National Council on Sanitation showed that progress was being made, adding that continuous collaboration was still needed to be put in place.
He said that the ministry was also partnering with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other development partners to give technical assistance to health officials.
Dr Mercy Kalba, the Desk Officer, Infectious Disease Department, FCT Primary Health Care Board, said it was necessary to monitor private schools on water and sanitation issues.
According to her, majority of schools are now relaxed about hand washing campaign, saying it was difficult to track their activities due to strict adherence to privacy.
“Reports reaching us show that a lot of private schools are no longer maintaining the standards that have to do with water, sanitation and hygiene issues.
“As you all are aware, it is difficult to track what is being done in private schools, in comparism with public schools in which one can just enter their conveniences and see what is on ground.
“Because Nigeria has been declared Ebola-free, does not mean we should relent in our duties to maintain a clean environment.”
Kalba however called on relevant stakeholders on sanitation to create avenues for monitoring, saying this would go a long way to rid the country of water borne diseases.
Mr Bisi Agberemi, UNICEF Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) specialist, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the organisation would develop a roadmap toward achieving this goal.
Agberemi said UNICEF would involve foreign consultants in the development of the roadmap to facilitate the process of its creation.
“For Nigeria to totally end open defecation in 2025, which is the target, the country must have a roadmap to achieve that.
“UNICEF is ready to support the Nigerian government with the creation of the roadmap.
“We will bring in international consultants who are specialists in this area to help develop this roadmap,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the UN launched a campaign for access to basic sanitation at the commemoration of world water day.
The campaign, which is aimed at ending open defecation by 2025, calls on governments, civil society, business and international organisations to take action to ensure that people have access to sanitation. (NAN)