World Toilet Day: Most Nigerians Lack Access to Sanitary Facilities-Minister
By Idowu Isamotu, Abuja
The Nigerian Government has expressed concerns over poor access to sanitary facilities, noting that sanitation crisis if allowed to continue, will undermine the overreaching ambition of the 2030 agenda, which aims at building safe, more resilient societies on a healthy planet.
The government, through its minister of Environment, Mohammed Mahmoud, who stated this at a press conference in Abuja to mark this year’s World Toilet Day with the theme: “Toilet For All”, said access to sanitary facilities remains a mirage to a vast majority of our citizenry.
According to him, the theme is apt, as it draws attention to the fact that billions of people do not have toilet and this means human faeces on a massive scale are not being captured or treated, contaminating water and soil thereby turning our environment into an open sewer.
“Today, about 4.2 billion people of the world live without safe toilet and about 47 million Nigerians still practice open defecation, hence many people still use the bush and water bodies as their regular means for excreta disposal.
“This year’s commemoration is drawing attention to those people that are being left behind without sanitation. raising awareness and inspiring action to tackle global sanitation crisis, promoting access to toilets for everyone and everywhere,” he said.
The minister lamented that 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.
He said, “Many institutions do not have sanitary facilities and where they exist they are either not functioning or misused. 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.
“The ministry in collaboration with other stakeholders has put together series of activities to mark the 2019 World Toilet Day as follows: Sanitary Inspection of federal government premises, 10,000 man march against open defecation, community awareness campaign and synchronized commissioning of practical demonstration facilities for the department of environmental health at University of Ibadan and Nnamdi Azikiwe university Nnewi.”
He, however, challenged all national, state and local government stakeholders 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.