By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, has reiterated federal government commitments to end open defecation in Nigeria.
Abubakar made the statement at a Ministerial Press Briefing held to commemorate the “2020 World Toilet Day” with the theme: “Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change”, in Abuja recently.
He said the theme was apt as it underscored the necessity for technologically sound systems for proper waste management and sanitary hygiene practices.
He added that the ministry in collaboration with critical stakeholders had reviewed and validated the 2005 National Environmental Sanitation Policy Guidelines on safe excreta and sewage disposal.
He said “The intervention on control of open defecation and the Clean and Green Programme of the ministry are aimed at promoting the provision of safe and adequate toilets across the country.’’
He added that the ministry had handed over modern public toilets to state governments as practical steps to end open defecation by 2025.
“These toilets which are part of the ministry’s community based waste management programme are to be managed by the private sector operators for viability and sustainability.
He said other toilet projects were at various stages of completion, as he expressed the hope that it would be replicated in all local governments of the federation.
He urged all national, state and local government stakeholders on environment, particularly sanitation, to take practical steps and actions as agents of change.
“I must remind us that with just 10 years to go, the 2030 deadline to attain the SDG goals for the sake of people and the planet, we must redouble our efforts,” he said.
He said the ministry recently signed a MoU with Centre for Science and Environment, India, on technology transfer, capacity building and research development in areas of water sanitation.
He said the centre would be conducting a specialised online training in toilet design and reuse for at least 50 Nigerian officials.
He said the officials would comprise of environmental health and sanitation desk officers across the 36 states, FCT and members of inter-ministerial committee on national sanitation by December.
Also speaking,the minister. of state environment Sharon Ikeazor said the world toilet day celebration offers an opportunity of of raising the much needed awareness on the dangers of open defecation especially during this era of COVID -19 pandemic .
She said “it has been recorded that climate change is now threatening sanitation system with associated health and environmental consequences.
“We must therefore expand access to safe toilets and leave no one behind because whoever you are, sanitation is your human right “.
Acting Registrar, Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria, Dr. Yakubu Baba, urged other ministries to key into the programme of ending open defecation in the coutry.
He said Nigeria will achieved the 2025 target of open free defecation .
Meanwhile,the National Consultant, Public Health and Environment, World Health Organisation,Dr Edwin Isotu,, said that investing in sustainable sanitation would help create more jobs for Nigerian youths.