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Minister Urges Action for Better Toilets, Sanitation in Nigeria

By Faridat Salifu

Nigeria will host the 2023 World Toilet Day, an event designated by the UN General Assembly, typically conducted on November 19, 2023, has been rescheduled for November 21, 2023, due to the original date falling on a Sunday,

This statement was given by Environment Minister Mallam Balarabe Lawal Abbas at the Ministerial Press Briefing in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing Conference Hall in Mabushi, on Thursday.

He stated, the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Environment will observe World Toilet Day with a news conference, a celebration at the Bolton White Hotel in Abuja, and campaigns, sensitization campaigns, and hygienic inspections of federal government schools.

The theme for this year is “Accelerating Change.” The event’s goals are to raise public awareness of the need for five times faster global efforts to meet the sanitation target of SDG 6 and to motivate citizens and the government to upgrade toilets and sanitation.

The event aims to solicit support from development partners, NGOs, CSOs, and the private sector for sanitation programs. The countdown to 2030 emphasizes the importance of ensuring access to adequate, hygienic, and safe toilets for health, business, and environmental integrity.

Toilets and sanitation systems are underfunded, poorly managed, and neglected in many parts of the world, including Nigeria. This leads to devastating consequences for health, economics, and the environment, particularly in poorer communities.

About 4.2 billion people worldwide live without safe toilets, and 48 million Nigerians still practice open defecation. Poor excreta and sewage disposal contribute to high rates of diarrhea, cholera, and other diseases, particularly among vulnerable groups. Safe excreta disposal can help prevent these issues and protect the environment.

The minister in his speech said Nigerian government is committed to addressing sanitation challenges and managing excreta, with a state of emergency declared and an Executive Order signed by the President.

The 2005 National Environmental Sanitation Policy has been approved by the Federal Executive Council after being examined and verified by the Federal Ministry of Environment. Modern public restrooms and safe toilets are also being promoted by the government.

The capability of environmental health officers has been strengthened by the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding with India.

Enr. Prof. Joseph Terlumun Utsev, the Honorable Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, was present and provided additional details about the event.

This is a part of the Ministry’s yearly celebration of the UN-proclaimed 2023 World Toilet Day, which aims to increase awareness and encourage action to address the global sanitation crisis.

The theme, Accelerating Change, he claimed, draws attention to the lack of progress made worldwide in achieving the goals of the water, sanitation, and hygiene sectors.

Forty percent of wastewater is released untreated, 419 million people perform open defecation, and 3.5 billion people lack access to safe toilets. More than 100 million people in Nigeria lack access to basic sanitation, and 48 million defecate in the open.

The government acknowledges the importance of adequate Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) services for socio-economic development, human capital outcomes, and education. Open defecation due to lack of facilities leads to sanitation-related diseases, poor educational outcomes, and productivity loss.

To address this, the government initiated WASH programs and projects, including the National Action Plan for Sector Revitalization and the Presidential Declaration of a State of Emergency in 2018.

Nigeria has initiated several initiatives to combat open defecation, including the PEWASH program, the Clean Nigeria Campaign, and the Sustainable Urban and Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme. The country hosted the World Toilet Summit in November 2022.

The Clean Nigeria Campaign, backed by Presidential Executive Order 9, aims to end open defecation by 2025 by ensuring accessible toilets in public places and enacting legislation to support the fight.

In their Sanitation and Hygiene Sector activities, the speaker acknowledges the cooperation of partners such as Sato Lixil, UNICEF, WaterAid, Action Against Hunger, and the World Bank.

In order to reach the sanitation targets of SDG 6 and guarantee sustainable sanitation services, they stress the necessity of strengthening and improving the sanitation value chain, which includes containment, transportation, treatment, and disposal.

Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation is working to improve sanitation access, with 46% of the population having basic access and only 18% having clean sanitation.

They are committed to putting in place the structures, guidelines, and directives necessary to promote an accommodating atmosphere.

Breaking taboos, fixing leaking pipes, and reporting irresponsible dumping are just a few of the roles that must be played in order to attain universal access to sanitation services. On World Toilet Day, it is suggested that everyone practice “Sanitation for All Advocates.”


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