By; NIYI OGUNGBOLA, Abeokuta
In its effort at putting an end to open defecation by year 2025, Ogun State Government has developed a document, which would serve as template /working tool, by all and sundry, for the attainment of open defecation free status.
Commissioner for Rural Development, Engr. Taiwo Oludotun said this at a day stakeholders sensitisation workshop on “Clean Ogun State-Use the Toilet”, commemorating the year 2020 World Toilet Day, at Oba’s Complex, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.
Oludotun stated that the State government had mobilised high level political support and other necessary resources, towards building a new culture to safe and sustainable sanitation.
He added that the State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency(RUWATSAN), is addressing part of the crisis around rural water supply, through release of counterpart fund by the present administration for the implementation of the National PEWASH Programme.
He called for the collaboration of Local Government authorities, Ward and Community- based Organisations, private sectors and households, as well as Federal Government and development partners.
In her keynote address, Wife of the State Governor who was decorated as the Lead Sanitation Ambassador on Total Eradication of Open Defecation, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun, said adequate sanitation and good hygiene were parts of fundamental human right that guarantee good health, social and economic wellbeing of the citizens, noting that the stated basic necessities remained greater challenge among larger percentage of the population.
“Let me inform this gathering that the present administration will not take the issue of open defecation with levity. It is for this reason we are stepping up campaign against this act and as the State ambassador on Total Eradication of Open Defecation. I will ensure that by year 2025 every household in the State, particularly those in the rural areas has toilet”, Mrs. Abiodun assured.
She acknowledged the contributions of donor agencies such as UNICEF/ Unilever through its Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) initiative in Odeda Local Government Area, the intervention which she said had led to achieving 80percent Open Defecation Free (ODF), with additional 145 ODF acclaimed communities, urging other private organisations and well-meaning individuals to emulate such gesture.
In his goodwill message, the Minister for Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, represented by Mrs. Ayaba Kogbara, said the ugly practice of open defecation has became a norm in many communities, due to lack of sanitation facilities, noting that remarkable progress had been made through various Federal, State and Local Governments’ interventions at achieving ODF- country by 2025.
‘’Statistics from the recent launch 2019 Water Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM), shows that we are making marginal progress as 46million Nigerians are still practicing open defecation, a decrease from the 47 million reported in 2018”, he said.
Engr. Adamu added that access to basic water and sanitation services now stands at 70 percent and 44 percent respectively, compared to the 68 percent and 42 percent in the 2018 report.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, ESV. Olalekan Lukan, said the event would facilitate quick response to achieving the ministry’s goals, with overall impact on people’s health, emphasising the need for residents to join hands with government in maintaining clean environment and ensure total eradication of open defecation.
Speaking, the Acting General Programme Manager and State Sanitation Desk Officer, Mr. Sola Ogunbo said the country’s commitment to end open defecation is gradually yielding results, commending the State government for creating conducive environment for the agency to be part of the additional 12 States, keying into the Partnership for Expanded Water Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) Programme.
Highlight of the event was the decoration of a musician, Alhaja Queen Salawa Abeni, as Sanitation Co- partner on End Open Defacation.