Some traditional and religious leaders in Jema’a, Jaba, Zangon Kataf and Kachia Local Government Areas (LGA) of Kaduna State, have called on local government councils to enact laws to check indiscrinate Open Defecation (ODF).
The leaders made the call on Saturday in Kafanchan during an ODF sensitisation meeting for traditional and religious leaders in the LGAs, organised by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
According to the leaders, the lack of relevant laws at local levels, on environmental sanitation and hygiene is negatively impacting on the campaign against open defecation in rural areas.
They unanimously agreed that the best way to eliminate ODF in local communities was for government to enact laws to prosecute offenders.
One of the leaders, Malam Barnabas Samaila, District Head of Asso, said the law has become imperative to strengthen traditional leaders’ effort in ensuring compliance to environmental cleanliness.
“It is important that local government areas enact such laws, because the community members always remind us that there is no law that restricts people from defecating in the open.
“And we, the traditional and religious leaders, have no right telling them where to defecate and where not defecate,” Samaila said.
Reacting to the call, Dr. Elias Manza, Chairman Zango-Kataf LGA, said the local councils would look into the demand to see the possibility of enacting such laws.
According to him, such laws, when enacted, will go a long way in reducing the rate of open defecation in local areas.
He said that his council would work with community and religious leaders to make it a reality.
The council chairman commended UNICEF for championing the campaign against ODF, stressing that the practice predisposes rural population to various preventable contagious diseases.
Also speaking, Vice Chairman, Jema’a LGA, Mr. Mgboni Digah, described ODF as a serious health risk to rural dwellers.
“While the decision on enactment of law is being considered, the local government area will continue to do its best in sensitising people against such habit,” Digah said.
On her part, Mrs. Theresa Pamma, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, pledged UNICEF’s support in ensuring that the law is enacted across LGAs.
Pamma assured the traditional and religious leaders of UNICEF readiness to support the LGAs through the state to review local government byelaws to cover areas on sanitation and hygiene.
She, nonetheless, commended Kachia, Jaba, Jema’a and Zangon Kataf local government areas for the improvement recorded in discouraging ODF, adding that Jaba and Kachia LGA have done extremely well over the years.
“When we started the campaign against ODF, we did not have a single community that was open defecation free, but today, quite a number of communities in the four LGAs are now open defecation free.
“Kachia has 447 ODF communities, followed by Jaba with 255 communities while the remaining LGAs are trailing behind. Our target is for Kaduna State to be declared ODF by 2025.
“We hope to achieve this through effective implementation of the Sanitation, Hygiene and Water in Nigeria (SHAWN II) project by ensuring that every person in the state has access to at least a toilet,” she said.