Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has lamented that Open Defecation has remained a huge problem in villages, towns and cities across the country despite concerted efforts by global organisations to nip the ugly trend in the bud.
Ortom stated this on Tuesday during the Benue ODF Roadmap Validation Stakeholders Consultation Workshop held in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
“Let me make it clear that Open Defecation is not only practiced by the rural dwellers. It is a huge problem in our vlllages, towns and cities,” the Governor said.
While applauding the remarkable achievement of the state for attaining Open Defecation in six out of the 23 states already, the Governor stressed the need to take up the challenge to ensure that the 17 remaining Local Government Areas acquire the Open Defecation Free status in the shortest possible time.
The Governor who was represented by the Health Commissioner, Dr. Emmanuel Ikwulono commended UNICEF and other donor partners for assisting the state attain the milestone it had achieved so far in the area of stamping out Open Defecation in the state.
Earlier in her welcome address, WASH Manager, UNICEF, Enugu Field Office, Mamita Thakkar said the ODF road map is linked to a larger national vision for creating an Open Defecation Free country by 2025.
“You may be aware that the Federal Government of Nigeria declared a state of emergency on the WASH sector and launched a National Action Plan (NAP) for the revitalization of the WASH sector in November 2018.
“Sanitation as one of its 5 key priorities areas for intervention
to meet the sanitation goals of the NAP, the FGN launched the Clean Nigeria: Use a Toilet Campaign.
She explained that the National Action Plan reiterates the fact that the provision of potable water supply, adequate sanitation and hygiene are primarily the responsibilities of State and Local Governments.
Thakkar listed the key objectives of the Benue ODF Roadmap to include; to achieve ODF status in Benue State by 2025, with every person, everywhere having a safe place to use as toilet; establish the systems policies, regulations, and structures required for the attainment of the SDG target of safely managed sanitation by 2030.
Others are to strengthen the capacity of sanitation and hygiene institutions and actors to meet the needs of the new vision and targets, including a robust M&E system; and to secure the funding, commensurate to the needs and demands of the vision and targets.
“We need more collective efforts beyond the walls of this hall. UNICEF, NGOs cannot help with mainstream investments. The sector needs increasing State leadership in strengthening the policy environment, gets and stricter monitoring of results. Else 20 years later we will still speak of gaps and not the gains,” Thakkar stated.