Mrs Ibukun Odusote, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment has charged researchers and talented Nigerians to come up with ideas of conversion of waste to power to address inadequate power supply in the country.
Odusote gave the charge at the 2019 National Environmental Sanitation Day (NESD) commemoration on Friday in Abuja.
The theme of the 2019 NESD is “Stop open defecation for healthy living”.
According to her, there are enormous wastes across the country that can be harnessed and converted to power.
She said that some areas in Israel and other parts of the world generated power from wastes.
“ We are here looking for power when we have enough waste, waste to us should be a resource but not a problem.
“ I want us in the ministry of environment to take the issue of waste seriously to the extent that we can generate power from waste to address power cuts in the country,’’ she said.
On open defecation, she said lack of toilets was a major environmental health problem facing many countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria.
She decried that a large number of the population defecate in the bush and water bodies because of lack of toilets in many households, while many institutions do not have sanitary facilities.
Odusote said that due to the magnitude of the challenges confronting the nation on environmental sanitation, the ministry established a standing National Inter-Ministerial Committee on National Environmental Sanitation at the federal level in 2015.
She said that the committee was to ensure effective participation of all stakeholders in the ownership and implementation of national sanitation programme.
She said that recently, the ministry initiated a programme tagged “Clean and Green” and one of its major aims was to end open defecation by 2025.
The permanent secretary said that the ministry had provided toilet and other sanitary facilities to communities under its community based waste management programme.
She said the ministry had also commenced sanitary inspection of all the federal government establishments, markets, and motor parks among others.
Mr Charles Ikeah, the Director, Pollution Control and Environmental Health Department of the ministry said the main objective of the celebration was to mobilise Nigerians to imbibe sound environmental and hygiene practices with emphasis on stopping open defecation.
Ikeah said the practice of open defecation in every society could be attributed to socio-cultural and economic factors, which should be well understood from different stakeholders’ perspective before any sanitation programme could be effective.
Mr Soyemi Sofoluwa, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Grassroot Environmental Health Care Initiative (GEHI) said open defecation could be tagged a biological weapon of mass destruction which should be stopped immediately.
Sofoluwa said that in 2018, GEHI in collaboration with Environmental Health Officers Registration Council (EHORECON) and others were able to carry out health sensitisation and awareness campaign in 11 public secondary schools in Bwari Area Council.