Obinna Odogwu, Awka
The Organised Private Sector in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene [OPS WASH] has said that it would build two million toilets across the country as part of efforts to end open defecation in Nigeria.
National Coordinator of OPS WASH, Dr. Nicholas Igwe, disclosed this on Tuesday while commissioning two toilets which were pilot projects built for the family of Onyedike in Umubuazu, Uli in Ihiala LGA and Migrant Farmers’ School, Obiofia, Umuenem, Otolo in Nnewi, Anambra State.
He said that the organised private sector has partnered with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission [NIDCOM] to mobilize two million Nigerians outside the country to adopt a toilet each for a household.
Igwe said that the measure was a multi stakeholder approach designed to help the federal government put an end to open defecation in the country and also promote a healthy and disease free environment.
“We the organised private sector in WASH recognize the importance of assisting the government based on the strong political will that has been shown.
“We have gone ahead to partner with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission [NIDCOM] to mobilize two million Nigerians outside the country to adopt a toilet each for a household”, he said.
The OPS WASH national coordinator who regretted that Nigeria was ranked number one in open defecation in the world said that about 47 percent of Nigerians still defecated in the open; hence, the effort to end the menace.
“We all know that 221,000 people out of which 87,000 are children under the age of 5 die every year due to gastroenteritis viruses related diseases.
“So, we are mobilizing our members to assist households. There are areas where households can afford to build their own toilets, we will provide them water infrastructure.”
Igwe said that the federal government has, between 2016 and 2019, made attempts to end open defecation in the country. He said that the efforts included the declaration of state of emergency in the WASH sector by President Muhammadu Buhari at the end of 2018.
“This was of course escalated to the Presidential signing of Executive Order 009, which is the base of one of the OPS-WASH projects”, he said.
Continuing, he said: “In May this year, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated a 24-member committee as part of efforts to combat the issue of open defecation and water sanitation challenges.”
A beneficiary of the modern toilet in Uli, Mrs Bridget Onyedike, a 70-year-old basket weaver, thanked the OPS WASH team for the kind gesture.
Also, the Head Teacher of Migrants Farmers’ School, Uju Onwuagba, said the new toilet facility would help to ameliorate the plight of teachers and pupils of the school who had no such facility since its establishment in 2016.