World Toilet Day: UNICEF, GPON, BOSEPA, Others Organize WASH In Borno

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*say lack of sanitation has   impact on public health, economy, environment 

By; SADIQ ABUBAKAR, Maiduguri

United Nations International Children Education Fund    (UNICEF) in collaboration with Goal Prime Organization Nigeria (GPON), Borno State Environmental Protection  Agency (BOSEPA) and other partners have organized Water and Sanitation Health (WASH) drama and  demonstrations  to mark  2022  World Toilet Day at  BOSEPA complex office on Tuesday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

The Borno State Commissioner of Environment, Architect Sale Kida expressed appreciation to the organizers, partners and other collaborators for organizing the remarkable health and sanitation  event in the overall interest of humanity.

He also assured that government will continue to work closely with the development partners and ensure healthy environment and availability of public toilets for better health, safety and healthy Environment through Implementation of health sanitation and Environmental Protection policies while thanking all the collaborating NGOs .

UNICEf WASH Manager, Ms Mamita Bura  Thakkar said,  

“Lack of sanitation has a profound impact on public health, economic productivity, environmental integrity, and educational attainment especially for girls and women who are disproportionately affected by deplorable sanitation conditions. 

”In 2020, the JMP estimated that 3.6 billion people globally lacked safely managed services, and that the rate at which sanitation coverage was increasing would need to quadruple to achieve universal access to safely managed services by 2030

“Globally, governments have focused for decades on boosting access to infrastructure and service delivery – both important – but closing gap on policy action is necessary to achieve scale and sustainability” Mamita said.

She added that, “another  year, another event, another World Toilet Day – 2022. These are grim reminders that sanitation is still an unfinished agenda. Every year there’s a new theme that highlights different dimensions of Sanitation, each of which is important. 

“Progress towards universal sanitation is alarmingly off track, unevenly distributed between countries, and inadequate to eliminate the inequalities to ensure that the most vulnerable are reached. This is also the most off-track of all the SDG 6 targets.

“The time is now. With eight years left to attain the SDGs by 2030, the window for action is rapidly closing. Systems strengthening efforts are key to unlocking real progress 

“This year, World Toilet Day focuses on the impact of the sanitation crisis on groundwater. Inadequate sanitation systems spread human waste into rivers, lakes and soil, polluting the water resources under our feet. However, this problem seems to be invisible. Invisible because it happens underground. Invisible because it happens in the poorest and most marginalized communities. 

“Groundwater is our most abundant source of freshwater. It supports our drinking water supplies, sanitation systems, farming, industry and ecosystems,” Thakkar said.

The UNICEF WASH Manager further noted that as climate change worsens and populations grow, groundwater is vital for our survival while Safely managed sanitation protects groundwater from human waste pollution. Sustainable Development Goal 6.2 is the world’s promise to ensure safe toilets for all by 2030. 

Thakkar said in Nigeria, a lot of ground has to be covered. We have not even reached the status of ODF – even one LGA so far and the state wide ODF is still a distant dream. And then we need to tackle the issue of safely managed sanitation, to reach the SDG goal of 2030.

“Today only 53% of the population has access to basic sanitation facilities and only 4% of the population has access to safely managed sanitation. Which means that most of the waste generated in the State is untreated and finds its way to our rivers, water bodies and that could explain the endemic cholera situation. 

“Safely managed and properly sited sanitation protects humans and groundwater from the pathogens in faecal waste. A safe and sustainable sanitation system begins with a toilet that effectively captures human waste in a safe, accessible and dignified setting.,” Thakkar said.

According  to her,  sustainable sanitation systems need to be able to withstand more frequent floods, droughts, changes in water availability so that services always function, and groundwater is protected. 

“We call upon partners to take up responsibility of FSM, to pilot models – UNICEF is willing to support and partner with NGOs while  Business opportunities exist on several levels. The most apparent opportunity is in construction of new latrines and facilities, which provides jobs for masons, construction workers, labourers, painters, and tile producers and installers. 

“The safe reuse of urine and composted faeces as fertilizer holds potential for multiple economic benefits in a local economy, while reducing unsafe reuse practices that have adverse health consequences. 

“We need to shift the lens on sanitation, Sanitation is a social good – but sanitation is an economic good too. We need to focus on the sanitation economy of the country. The time is now. The time is here.”, Mamita added 

The General Manager, Borno State Environmental Protection Agency (BOSEPA), Engineer Bukar Suleiman thanked the collaborating partners for their contributions and support, while acknowledging the efforts  and support of Governor Zulum in promoting environmental sanitation.

He further said  the state government has embarked  on provision of adequate facilities and amenities to BOSEPA in the management and control of environmental sanitation across the 27 LGAs, especially in ensuring that  the state  capital, Maiduguri is clean and  ensuring that first week of every month is observed as sanitation day.

He added that the agency has been put on the right track with the support from development and humanitarian partners in the state, where WASH and environmental sanitation programmes have been excited or implemented  towards reaching  2030 MDGs target.

Engineer Suleiman noted that the governor has also provided logistics and machinery and equipment to the agency, while bridges, refuse dumps, baskets, cans, drums, refuse escavators other tools have been provided, carriers, fork lifts among others 

while Sanitation Vanguards have been engaged to clean offices, roads, public premises , markets, motor parks and other places all towards ensuring Open Defecation Free (ODF) of  the MDGs.

He added that the state government has further constructed water ways and waterfalls, drainages, culverts, channels  slabs and roads to ensure free flow of water and ensure frequent excavation of refuse dumps from the designated points for the purpose of hygiene and healthy environment with the support of some NGOs.

The GM assured of continuous partnership and collaboration with the humanitarian and development partners, while thanking them for their support and assistance to the agency and state government in the implementation of environmental sanitation policy, which is one of  Governor Zulum’s  priorities.  

Director General, Borno State Emergency Management Agency  (SEMA), Hajiya Yabawa Kolo said the state government has been supportive and providing environmental sanitation facilities and amenities in all the internally displaced persons  (IDPs) camps towards ensuing healthy Environment and better conducive environment.

General Manager Rural Water Supply Agency (RUWASSA), Dr. Musa Ali on his part, highlighted  the numerous water projects the state government has provided and pledged continuous drilling of more boreholes across the 27 LGAs of the state in addition to the existing  functional boreholes at strategic locations across the state.

He added that the state government has further installed solar energy electricity in many boreholes to replace the mechanized electricity supply system to the boreholes, with some  rehabilitated, while others were drilled newly.

Dr. Ali disclosed also that the state government has concluded plans to embark on drilling of additional boreholes and installation of solar energy lights to the boreholes where the 2023 budget proposal for RUWASSA is about N83 billion targeted at drilling over 1,000 boreholes in all the LGAs of the state and installing solar energy electricity among others, all geared towards meeting up with the 2030 MDGs target on ODF.

He however lamented  the manner some people still go to defecate in open space and even near streams and other sources of water, which is dangerous and unhealthy as such behaviour brings diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, malaria, typhoid, etc even in children despite the advocacy and public enlightenment being carried out in all the places across the state.

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