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Open Defecation Free: Abia State Govt Still Struggling To Meet 2025 Target

*Borno State making notable progress to meet the target

By Egbodo Queen and Grace Samuel

On Friday, March 22, the World Water Day in 2024, the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, while stating the achievement of his ministry, stated that 15 additional local government areas across five states of the federation have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF), since he assumed office.

The total number of Local Government Area that is Open Defecation Free in Nigeriaa as at the time of filling this report has risen to 120, based on the confirmation by the minister.

This left 654 council areas with unknown state of their preparedness to ensure Nigeria attain Open Defecation Free status set by the authority in the country for 2025.

NatureNews has taken it upon itself to look at the level of compliance to Open Defecation Free across states in the country.

In Abia State, open defecationis a big challenge to the government particularly at the grassroots level. Several people continue to engage in this unhygienic behavious in spite of the efforts of the government sensitization programmes embarked upon at state level.

As it was in the cities in the state, absence of adequate sanitary facilities coupled with nonchallant attitude towards health implication and environment pollution causes continuation of open defecation in Abia State.

In this state, people urinate anywhere they feel it’s okay by them forgetting what the impact would be. Many people in the state are unaware of the health implication of open defecation.

Sensitization of citizens and residents in the state on open defecation is low as people in the rural areas in this state are ignorant of the fact that it could cause cholera, diarrhea and typhoid.

On the part of the state government, checks revealed that government of Abia State have made frantic efforts towards eradicating open defecation but the efforts made so far is not enough to ensure Abia State become open defecation free in 2025.

Aside provision of sanitary facilities and setting up of a Taskforce team to deal with law breakers as regards open defecation across the state, there is shortcomings in the activities of the Taskforce team.

It was gathered that a Taskforce was set up by the state government to carry out routine inspections and guarantee that all communities in the state follow the guidelines on open defecation free by 2025.

However, with the current level of open defecation in the State, the dream of experiencing open defecationfree Abia State in 2025 will end up being a mirage.

In like manner, open defection is prevalent in Borno State. It was so rampant in Borno State to the extent that open defecation in the dryland of Borno has led to contamination of some streams, body of water and spread of diseases.

In a recent report, the World Health Organistion (WHO) reported that Borno State, Nigeria, has one of the highest rate of open defection in Nigeria with a statistics showing that approximately, 40% of the population engaged in this unsafe sanitation practice. This has contributed to the prevalence of waterborne diseases in this part of the country.

Efforts were made by the state government, non-governmental organisations, and community based initiatives to promote hygiene practices by building more toilets and improve on people’s access to clean and drinkable water.

But, investigations revealed that insecurity in Borno State and unabated activities of insurgents has forced many people from their land only to go ad live an unusul life at Internally Displaced People’s camp where sanitation is a secondary issue after food.

Furthermore, the state government is unrelent to eradicate open defecation in Borno come 2025. For instance, recently, the state government launched the Clean and Green Borno Initiative, aims to improve sanitation and hygiene facilities such as public toilets across the state, provision of safe drinkable water, and rising awareness on importance of proper sanitation among the citizens of the state and residents.

The combined efforts of environmental activists and community involvement in sensitization activities have made a little significant progress in Borno State.

As of the time of filling this report, two among the local government areas in the state, Biu andShani Local government respectivley have beenidentified as Open Defecation Free.

The two council areas are among the 120 mentioned by the minister of environment as Open Defecation Free in the country.

Continued monitoring of the state on ODF also shows that three other council areas: Kwaya-Kusr, Byo and Hawul local government area are close to achieving ODF status. Interestingly, citizens of the state supported their government towards construction of public toilets.

However, acknowledgement of two local government areas as Open Defecation Free among 27 LG’s in the state is not encouraging should efforts of the state government to ensure Borno State is ODF by 2025 is taking into consideration.

It was observed that if the state government continue with the awareness on impacts of open defecation on the environment, provision of sanitation facilities at open place where such facility will serve the purpose it was built and highlighting health hazards of open defecation in dialects the local people will understand during the awareness sensitization, Borno State can still make significnt progress and become an open defecation free state in Nigeria by 2025.

 

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