The federal government has said the nation needs urgent and massive investment and innovation along the entire sanitation to improve public health and the economy.
Speaking at the commemoration of World Toilet Day in Abuja on Tuesday, the Minister of Environment, Balarabe Lawal while lamenting that about 48 million Nigerians openly defecate, said: “We need urgent and massive investment and innovation along the entire sanitation service chain. Investment in the sanitation sector is good for public health and the economy. For instance, every one Naira invested in toilets and sanitation, up to five Naira is returned in saved medical costs, better health, increased productivity, education and jobs.”
He noted that: “The Federal Government of Nigeria has demonstrated practical commitment to addressing the sanitation challenges through the following actions:
i) Declaration of State of Emergency on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in the Country by Mr. President and the signing of Executive Order no 009 on Open Defecation Free Nigeria by 2025.
ii) Revision and validation of the 2005 National Environmental Sanitation Policy, including its policy guidelines on safe excreta and sewage disposal by my ministry and national stakeholders. I will soon present the revised policy to the Federal Executive Council for its approval.
iii) Community-based intervention on the control of open defecation as well as the clean and green programmes of the Federal Ministry of Environment which are aimed among others at promoting the provision of safe and adequate toilets across the country, particularly in public places and ensuring proper excreta management in Nigeria.”
He said as part of the activities for the commemoration of this year’s event, the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Education carried out advocacy, sensitization and sanitary inspection of Federal Government Unity schools in FCT, adding that findings from the sanitary inspection of Federal Government Unity schools in FCT revealed the following:
“Some of the toilets in the hostels in some of the schools visited were locked because they are not in good condition;
Poor or inadequate water supply in some of the schools which affects the use and access to toilets by the students who obviously practice open defecation as there are evidence of presence of excreta in the surrounding environment; Defective septic tanks which can serve as breeding place for pests and vectors of public health importance such as mosquitoes, rats, snakes etc.”
He called on Unity schools across the country, which may likely have similar sanitation challenges to take note and improve on their sanitation situation.
He solicited the support of Development Partners, NGOs CSOs, the Organized Private Sector, Community Leaders, and indeed everyone to promote good sanitation and hygiene practices for overall environmental health protection.
He reminded all stakeholders that the countdown to 2030 has begun and “we must accelerate progress to ensure everyone has access to toilets by 2030, hence, I call on the organized private sector and commercial entities to support the government by contributing their quota to the establishment of functional toilet facilities across the country for general public use.”
On his part, the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev said Nigeria is committed to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), of which target 6.2 for Sanitation seeks to “
He noted that: “Our commitment is motivated by the realisation that it would contribute significantly to the achievement of our national developmental goals.”
He said: “With only seven years to go, progress on achieving the global SDG Sanitation target of safely managed services is off track and Nigeria is regrettably among those countries lagging behind manifested in high disparities in access across wealth quintiles and locations. Globally, an estimated two-thirds of people who lack basic access to sanitation services live in rural areas, with nearly half of them in Sub-Saharan Africa, while over 90% of the world’s population practising open defecation inhabit these areas. It is estimated that it will require five times the current rate of progress to meet the 2030 target date globally. In Nigeria, only over half of the population has access to basic sanitation services with about a quarter engaged in open defecation. The country will, therefore, need to quintuple its current rate of implementation and triple its investment in order to stay on course towards meeting our obligations under the SDG targets for sanitation.”