‘Open defecation major environmental problem plaguing Nigeria, Sub-Saharan Africa’

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From: Kazeem Biriowo, Abuja

The Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Environment, Mrs Ibukun Odusote, on Friday said open defecation without the proper designed structures, built for human wastes such as toilet remains a major environmental health problem confronting most Sub-Saharan African countries including Nigeria.

She disclosed this in her keynote address at the 2019 National Environmental Sanitation Day, held in Abuja. The commemoration was themed “Stop Open Defecation For Healthy Living”.

The PS maintained that environmental sanitation practices in the country still remain poor with general inadequate access to basic sanitary facilities.

She further attributed diseases such as diarrhoea which is the second cause of high morbidity and mortality amongst children under the age of five, recurrent outbreak of cholera, malnutrition in children and the likes as major consequences of open defecation.

Her words: “Quite a lot of our population use the bush and water bodies as their regular means for excrete disposal as many households do not have toilets while many of our institutions do not have sanitary facilities. Where they exist, they are not adequately functioning or are misused.”

However, the PS highlighted efforts of the ministry by promoting access to hygiene sanitary facilities in the country in complementing the efforts of the Local Government Authorities according to the constitution.

These includes “Clean and green aiming to end open defecation in Nigeria by 2025”, provision of toilets and other sanitary facilities to community based waste management programme among others.

“To effectively solve our sanitation challenges and put permanent stop to open defecation in Nigeria, we need the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders that is three tiers of government, the private sector, Non-Governmental organizations and our development partners.

“Not only to do the talking but also take practical steps and actions individually and collectively as agent of change to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to environment friendly sanitary and safe environment for sustainable development”. She added.

The ministry’s Director of Pollution Control and Environmental Health Department, Mr KC Ikeah in his welcome address revealed that the practices of open defecation are surrounded by sociocultural and economic factors which must be well understood from different stakeholder’s perspectives before any sanitation programme can be effective.

“However, when people have access to improved sanitary facilities, they are healthier and can also work more productively, and contribute more to society”. He said.

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