About 47 million Nigerians still practice open defecation a barbaric method which tends to expose the entire population of the country to risk of contracting various diseases given the fact that the practice impacts negatively on the health and economy of the nation.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Musa Ibrahim disclosed this yesterday, in Calabar while declaring Bekwarra LGA open defecation free (ODF) council, stressing that over 47 million Nigerians were at risk various health challenges because of the way and manner in which the people handle matters related to defecation.
The permanent secretary who was represented at the occasion by deputy director, Engr Emmanuel Eze said: “The nation’s access to improved sanitation is reported as 33% with over 47 million people in Nigeria still practicing open defecation .This poses a great health challenge to women, girls and those in vulnerable conditions and impacts negatively on the health and economy of the populace.
“The Ministry acknowledges the challenges of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in the country which includes low capacity, inadequate funding and poor coordination amongst others. It is in this regard that sanitation and hygiene focused projects such as Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria (RUSHPIN) project is critical to close the gap.
“The federal government through the Ministry, is committed to pursuing the collaborative efforts required in addressing these issues and has to this end, developed the strategy document:“Making Nigeria Open Defecation Free by 2025.
“In a bid to also revitalize the deplorable situation, a state of emergency has been declared in the sector which involves a phase out plan and an establishment of a National WASH fund which is a tool to renew and promote federal -state partnership and increased financial investment.
“All these efforts at promoting adequate sanitation are geared towards obtaining the optimal benefit accruable from provision of improved water supply facilities to the populace,’’ he stated.
Earlier, in his remarks, the Director General, Cross River State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, (RUWASSA) ItaIkpeme, stressed that the declaration of Bekwarra LGA as an ODF council area makes the council area, the third local government to be so declared in Cross River state as a huge feat,adding that no state in the country has achieved that.
“With a population of 191,000 people living in an ODF environment in Bewkarra over 124,000 families and households now enjoy the benefits of improved sanitation.It is only in Cross River state that three LGAs have been declared ODF.
“This feat has not been achieved by any other state and we commend Governor Ayade for his efforts towards sustaining and improving health condition among rural communities by his advocacy for clean ablution habits.
‘Since 2014, we have been encouraging communities on the need to attain ODF environment and this has eliminated a lot of diseases and reduced child mortality. More than 235 communities are happy to be part of this history,” Ikpeme stated.
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