The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai on Tuesday assured Nigerians that the entire Kaduna State would be open defecation free (ODF) before the national target 2025.
El-Rufai stated this through his deputy, Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe during the official declaration of Jaba as the first ODF local government in Kaduna State, held in Kwoi, the headquarters of the local council.
Open defecation is human practice of defecating outside (street, bush, market, forest, road etc) instead of using toilets due to age-long tradition and cultural practices, especially at the low-income settings.
With this development, Kaduna now joined seven other states include Cross River, Jigawa, Benue, Katsina, Bauchi, Osun and Akwa Ibom which have been partially declared open defecation free.
In a remark, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF, Kaduna, Dr Zakari Adam, congratulated Kaduna State and the donour, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom (UK) on the funding support which contributed to the attainment of this result.
Zakari, who spoke through WASH Specialist, Theresa K. Pamma, believed that the attainment of ODF status by Jaba local government would open the gate for other 22 local government to follow suit.
According to him, “this occasion highlights the importance of preventive care and underscores the need for elimination of open defecation in our society”, he said.
Zakari further said that about 150,000 deaths occur annually, mainly amongst children under five years of age, due to diarrhoea largely caused by poor sanitation and hygiene, “data shows that poor access to improved sanitation in Nigeria remains a major contributing factor to high morbidity and mortality rates among under-five children”.
He continued, “the latest data on Sanitation for Kaduna State shows that the coverage has improved from 29.4% (MICS 2017) to 55% (WASHNORM, 2019) and Open Defecation has reduced from 10 to 9% between 2018 to 2019.
“Using the 2020 projected population figures, this data implies that; Over five million people in the State have and utilize sanitary toilets that do not encourage the breeding of vehicles of disease transmission such as; flies, cockroaches and rodents. Also, this category of latrines/toilets reduce faecal contamination, do not smell, can be easily washed and kept clean always.
“Over three million people are using traditional pit latrines that cannot be washed, promote contamination, smell, discourage users, 825, 856 people are still practising Open Defecation.
“Lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities is the root cause of issues such as diseases, malnutrition and poverty. Poor sanitation hinders development at the same time, worsens health inequalities and promotes poverty.
“Adequate sanitation and hygiene enhance the life prospects of people by reducing their vulnerability and exposure to infections”.
Speaking specifically on the factors mitigating against the attainment of wider ODF In Kaduna State Zakari hinged the core challenges on lack of payment of operational funds by LGAs and weak commitment which made it very difficult to mobilize communities and organize efforts.
“Investing in sanitation is crucial for development and growth in the future. UNICEF, therefore, appeals to the Kaduna State government to put in place a sustainable system for the release of operational funds to WASH Departments in the LGAs for monitoring the implementation of Community Action Plans (CAPs) among others”, he advised.