Paul Orude, Bauchi
The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Hussein Adamu, has disclosed that an estimated 46 million persons in Nigeria practice open defecation, the highest in the world.
Adamu made this disclosure on Monday during the official celebration of the Dass Local Government-Sanitation, Hygiene and Water in Nigeria (SHAWN) project’s attainment of open defecation-free (ODF) status, at the Waziri Mazadu Primary School in Dass.
The minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Musa Ibrahim, said that more than two-thirds of Nigeria’s population has no access to basic hygiene and sanitation facilities and efforts in the past to address the challenge yielded minimal results.
He commended UNICEF and the UK Aid for supporting the implementation of the SHAWN project in Nigeria, which, he said, has been implemented in 70 local government areas of six states, Bauchi, Benue, Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna and Jigawa, adding that the project has been extended to 100 LGAs in eight states with the addition of Kano and Yobe states in 2017.
The minister said: “It is, therefore, worthy to note that Dass local government is the first among the implementing LGAs in the state and the second local government in the country to achieve this notable feat.
“A glimpse of the water, sanitation and hygiene sector in Nigeria through WASH diagnostic report by the World Bank in 2017 shows that, while the country made significant progress in the provision of safe water supply in the past decade, which contributed to socio-economic development and poverty reduction in the country, the same cannot be said of sanitation and hygiene.”
He said that the federal government has developed the National Open Defecation road map aimed at eliminating open defecation by 2025, adding that the ministry was providing sanitation and hygiene facilities in public places across the country, with special consideration for the North East as part of the ministry’s response to the emergency situation in the area.
In his address at the occasion, the Permanent Secretary, Bauchi State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, Garba Magaji Babaji, said the SHAWN project built the capacity of stakeholders at the state and local government levels and adopted the local government-wide approach in the Community-led Total Sanitation Implementation.
He said that all the communities committed to construct and use latrines not only at household level, but in markets, motor parks and places of worship, while the project, in collaboration with the state government, provided facilities in schools and health centres.
The UNICEF officer in charge Bauchi ‘D’ field office, Idrisa Yawe, said that the Bauchi State government demonstrated commitment by releasing counterpart cash contribution for the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, adding that the state government has committed to releasing N25 million per month, from August 2016 to March 2018.