Minister decries states' aparthy towards campaign against open defecation

"Nigeria is at the brink of becoming number one among countries that defecate in the open only behind India."

Minister decries states' aparthy towards campaign against open defecation
Engr. Suleiman Adamu, minister of water resources

The Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu has lamented the lack of commitment by many states to the campaign against the three-year-old campaign to eradicate open defecation in Nigeria. 

The minister who briefed the media in Abuja during the midweek said that after three years of the Campaign,  "only very few States have shown commitment to end open defecation in the states."

He explained that the campaign to end open defecation requires the support of all Stakeholders including State and LGA actors. "It is a behavioural change campaign which includes high level advocacy to Political Office holders to buy into the Campaign and to provide the needed funds required to carryout the campaign, it involves building capacity of state and local actors who will drive the process. A behavioural change campaign involving the media and the different aspects of communication needs to be developed and disseminated, with programme monitoring at various levels of implementation."

 Altogether, 84 LGAs out of 774 in the country are now Open Defecation Free with 26 of the LGAs from Jigawa State and 24 of the LGAs from Katsina State, Benue State has 9 of its LGAs ODF and Bauchi has 7 while Cross River has 6 LGAs respectively.  "It is important to note that States with very high number of ODF LGAs have shown political will and support in driving the Campaign in their State. The Campaign needs the support of every one in the state to succeed, Engr. Adamu said.

The Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet Campaign is a transformational campaign with the target of ending Open Defecation in Nigeria by 2025. It is aimed at mobilizing all strata of the society to join hands to fight the menace of Open Defecation.

The minister expressed concern that if the level of commitment is not raised by the states, the country will not only fail to meet the set target which is only three years away, but will slip in its open defecation ranking. He said: "Nigeria is at the brink of becoming number one among countries that defecate in the open only behind India."

In Nigeria today, about 48 million people still defecate in the open, an equivalent of 23% of the population, according to the 2021 Water Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping Survey (WASH NORM) Survey.  

The campaign to end open defecation in Nigeria is modelled after the India Swatch Bharat Mission which was understudied by Nigeria at the start of the Campaign. Nigeria's campaign was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on 8th May, 2019 and to institutionalize the National Roadmap Strategy to end open defecation in Nigeria by 2025.  This was immediately followed by the National flag-off in Abuja by the Vice President and the signing of executive order 9 “ending open defecation in Nigeria by 2025 and other related matters” by the President. 

After the National flag-off of the Campaign by the Vice President, the States commenced their flag-off at the State level with a plan to roll out the campaign at the State level. As at today all States have flagged off the Campaign to end open defecation with little or no commitment from most States. Only 84 LGAs have been declared Open Defecation Free using the National Protocol for Verification and Certification of Open Defecation Free LGAs. 

The campaign is being implemented by the Clean Nigeria Campaign Secretariat which was officially opened by the Honourable Minister on 27th August, 2019. 

The Secretariat has been collaborating with different MDAs, development Partners, Private Sector and the Media. The Campaign has a Steering Committee inaugurated in June, 2020 and Chaired by the Vice President, with Ministers of relevant MDAs, Development Partners, Private Sector, Parastatals National Assembly, NGF and ALGON as members of the Steering Committee to provide oversight function to the Campaign. 

Engr. Adamu disclosed that the Secretariat has supported the construction of sanitation facilities across LGAs and States in public places. "The Clean Nigeria Campaign Secretariat is set to support willing states with capacity building, particularly on Community Led Total Sanitation and Market-based Sanitation which are some of the approaches being used to improve access to household sanitation facilities and to end open defecation."

He explained that ending open defecation in any LGA requires that the entire LGA is fully sensitized with messages to end open defecation. This is constantly followed up by the communities in the LGAs by LGA Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Unit with support from State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agencies and supervision by the Clean Nigeria Campaign Secretariat.

The National Protocol for verification and certification of Open Defecation Free Communities is applied at different stages of implementation to ensure quality and due diligence is adhered to. The entire process is then validated at the National level by the National Task Group on Sanitation. The LGA is then announced and declared open defecation free by the State.

The minister disclosed that work was still on-going in several LGAs with implementation at various levels.