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Buhari to launch campaign on open defecation

President Muhammadu Buhari is set to launch campaign to end open defecation in Nigeria by 2025, Mrs Chizorma Opara, the Acting Coordinator, Clean Nigeria-Use the Toilet Campaign, has said.

Opara made this known during a two-day training on Revised Open Defecation Free (ODF) Protocol and Validation for National Taskforce Group Sanitation (NTGS) members on Thursday in Keffi, Nasarawa.

The workshop is organised by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.

The revised ODF Protocol assigns the responsibility of validation of certified ODF communities to the NTGS which involves the review of the entire process leading to the certification of the communities.

She said that the launching had become necessary if open defecation had to end by 2025 in view of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to her, Nigeria has 47 million people defecating in the open and ranks second in the world and the highest in population in Africa practicing open defecation.

“In 2018, Mr President on Nov. 8, had declared a state of emergency in the sector and also with emphasis that Nigeria must end open defecation by 2025.

“Now Nigeria has already developed a roadmap in 2016 that was launched by the then minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu.

“The road map is a strategy document to help the country to end open defecations in Nigeria by 2025.

“We actually gave ourselves that target, looking at the SDGs, if we can actually work towards achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) by 2025, then we would now go through the process which is sustainability period.

“This will actually keep everyone working together to see if we would all collectively achieve that,’’ she said.

Opara said that in 2011, Nigeria had consistently been second after India and the first in Africa with the largest population of people defecating in the open, and in 2014 India began a process that took millions of their people out of open defecation.

She said that the statistics had drastically reduced as high as over four hundred million people who now use toilets.

“They have stopped practicing open defecation and the plan for the country is that by Oct. 2, India will be open defecation free, which leaves Nigeria as number one with issues of open defecation,’’ Opara said.

The acting coordinator further said that through the efforts of the former minister and some other development partners, some delegates were sent to India to understudy how they did it and what they put in place to achieve the result.

She said that following the understudy the Clean Nigeria Use, the Toilet Campaign was created to see how it could work and push the social movement that involves everybody to end open defecation by 2025 in Nigeria.

Opara however noted that on May 8, the Federal Executive Council also approved the campaign, following the approval of Mr President to inaugurate the campaign through a national launch, adding that “this is what we are all working towards now’’.

“A 70-man planning have been inaugurated on May 27, to plan the national launch which we believe is going to be an eye opener that will involve everybody at the different levels of government to be part of this campaign from the onset.

“The plan is on, we are looking at it that the launch will be huge, because it is a transformational and social movement.

“It will involve everybody and what we need to do is to work together to plan the campaign for it to be a success and to see that Nigeria actually achieves that target of ending open by 2025,’’ she added.

Opara said that the training workshop was basically to train NTGS members on validation.

She said the aim of the training was to also build capacity, increase knowledge based on improved performance and efficiency of NTGS to effectively carry out their roles.

According to her, validation is a process of a community or a local government becoming an open defecation free and it is the responsibility of the group on sanitation to actually validate that process.

“It is a whole process where community begins to claim that they are open defecation free. So it involves verification, certification and validation of communities of open defecation free,’’ she said.

Mr Emmanuel Eze, the Deputy Director on Sanitation, Federal Ministry of Water Resources said the training was the second validation training of its kind.

He said the training was to ensure expected results are achieved through the refresher course to address the gaps that was observed from the first training.

“This is the second training and is also to bring people on board due to the enormous assignments that may become available when the campaign to end open defecation starts.

“The campaign is to accelerate local government to ODF. It is a presidential launch and we are preparing and on Tuesday, we will have an inaugural meeting of the committee that will be responsible for the preparation of the presidential launch.

“Mr President wants to launch out a campaign for open defecation to ensure eradication of open defecation in Nigeria and this means everybody must key into it.

“If there is political will, then we are sure that it is going to be successful as it will cut across all parts of the country, devoid of any political gimmicks as open defecation affects everyone,’’ he said.

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