The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture says open defecation is perpetuating vicious cycle of diseases and poverty in the country.
Mr Olumide Osanyipeju, Head of Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the ministry said this at a media dialogue on “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” on Wednesday in Kano.
The dialogue was organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the Ministry through the support of European Union and UK Department for International Development.
Osanyipeju further described open defecation as “incredibly dangerous” because contact with human waste could cause diseases like diarrhoea among others.
“Open defecation perpetrates a vicious cycle of diseases and poverty.
“Inadequate waste disposal promotes the infection cycle of many agents that can spread through contaminated soil, food, water and insects such as flies.
“Open defecation is incredibly dangerous as contact with human waste can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhoea, warm infestation and nutrition. We must redouble our current efforts in order to end ODF by 2030.
“There is need to increase awareness about the impact of open defecation in Nigeria,” he said.
Osanyipeju who described the media as critical partner in achieving success in the WASH and ODF, however, urged practitioners to prioritise reportage about sanitation and hygiene in communities to boost health services across the country.
He specifically enjoined the practitioners to use different medium at their disposal to educate the populace with sanitation situation in the country with reference to child development.
“You are to ensure that children issues are reported in a way that will elicit responses from different levels of stakeholders, causing them to meet their obligations to children as duty bearers.
“You should respect, protect and fulfill the rights of children as you are equally duty bearers to set agenda, use narratives and give voice to issues concerning children.
“As practitioners you should use your expertise to increase the knowledge among community members to upgrade local government areas, Water Sanitation and Hygiene Units (WASH) and Department and strengthen the capacity to implement rural WASH projects.
“Create visibility for WASH interventions and donors, by so doing it will go a long way in realising the objectives of UNICEF at advancing child’s right and enhancing their well being,” he noted.
He explained that the campaign mode would create a national movement with elements of policy advocacy, public advocacy, grassroots mobilisation and private sector engagement.
Osanyipeju emphasised that the media dialogue on sanitation and campaign to end open defecation was targeting three states of Kano, Osun and Cross Rivers.
According to him, it was aimed at creating awareness about “Clean Nigeria:Use the Toilet” campaign and to mobilise resources to sustain the national movement.
“It calls for behavioral change policy reform through community dialogue to raise awareness by setting agenda for children issues within the framework of child rights.
“It also creates a deeper understanding of the needs of children among people, government and institutions, while defining the role of the society in meeting those needs.
The deputy director also described sanitation as essential to the survival and development of children.
According to him, it reduce the severity and impact of malnutrition and also help in reducing the spread of intestinal worms as well as promoting dignity and boosting safety particularly among women and children.
The director who described UNICEF as being in the forefront of ensuring that Nigerian populace have access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and proper hygiene in communities, commended the organisation, other groups and individuals for also advancing this cause to make life changes in communities.
He noted that the Federal Ministry of Water Resources through the support of UNICEF among other agencies and CSOs was currently leading the ODF campaign to end open defecation by 2025 and achieve universal access to safe water and sanitation by 2030.
According to him, end open defecation and WASH programme were integral parts of SDG six and it is therefore critical to intensify effortss in tackling them.
Similarly, Geoffrey Njoku, Communication Specialist, UNICEF said the dialogue was to apprise the media, bloggers, influencers among others about sanitation in Nigeria.
Njoku further said it was aimed at creating awareness about “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” campaign and mobilize resources to sustain the national movement.
Njoku said the dialogue was also aimed at using the social ecological module of behavioural-change looking at advocacy at the policy level.
According to him, the media are expected to become an ODF ambassador at the end of the dialogue by raising awareness on the need to end open defecation.
“The dialogue is to call for behavior change and policy reform through community dialogues, advocacy visits and engagement with policymakers.
” Drive cross-sector collaboration, especially with the private sector to improve investment in the sanitation sector,” he said.
Edited by Maharazu Ahmed