Delay In 2025 Target For Open Defecation-Free Nigeria Alarms Water Minister


Despite the goal of declaring Nigeria open defecation-free by 2025, the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu said there was a slow pace in pursuing it. This was stated by Minister Suleiman in Abuja at the seventh meeting of the series of biannual interministerial dialogues on sanitation since the last pandemic in 2010. In his opinion, under the national programme to end open defecation in Nigeria, the “Clean Nigeria” initiative that emphasizes the use of the toilet for a clean disposal of human waste.

As part of the campaign communication, Minister Suleiman explained that efforts are being made to create awareness of open defecation practices, as well as providing states with support for scaling up implementations at the sub-national level. We have now documented 78 local government areas free of open defecation thanks to these supports, said the minister. This result is not at the desired scale, if we are to achieve an open defecation free status by 2025.” He said the global pandemic of COVID-19 has offered Nigeria a great opportunity on sanitation and urged stakeholders to take advantage of it to boost the infrastructural needs of the nation towards an ODF status for Nigeria by 2025.

“The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging, but a new opportunity to highlight and maximize the role that sanitation and hygiene play in preventing and mitigating disease outbreaks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic itself and cholera among others. Aside from the health dimension of sanitation improvement they also exist, opportunities to build a circular economy around sanitation businesses must therefore explore and take advantage of these opportunities. As we are aware responsibility for different aspects of sanitation lies within different ministries of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) of course particularly. It is important therefore that we strengthen our collaborative efforts in improving access to sustainable sanitation and hygiene services aligned with the sustainable development goals to our people so that no one is left behind.  Nigeria as part of the sanitation water for all global partnership will be participating at the high level sector meeting of ministers scheduled to hold in Indonesia. My colleagues and I at the Ministry of Environment, finance and health have also been invited to this meeting, which is focused on the nexus of wash with health, climate and economy. The sector programme offers me to provide a platform for Nigeria to share, learn and engage with other countries, donors and private sector actors towards improving these issues in our national development.

Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works and Housing, made notice that although the conference had expected the Works Ministry to erect toilets as sanitation facilities nationwide, it was important to note that these areas fell within the powers of state and local governments. This made them the authorising powers for the availability of land. He said a workable plan would be to adopt a policy, he operated as governor of Lagos, where all building plans are granted on condition that such private property for public purposes, provided toilet facility for access to members of the public unconditionally.

“The Ministry of Housing can work on additional toilet facilities on every highway across the country. I don’t know how that’s going to  work. We are thinking about rest houses. If that is the consensus, I think that again, we have to work with the sub-national governments. They are the ones where building approvals, building permits are given for buildings like markets, stores, malls and petrol filling stations and all those things. One of the things I tried to do when I was head of the sub-national government was to make it a condition for our commissioner for town planning, before we approved any petrol station, any market this or any field or any public service. Your condition is that you must provide one or two toilets that members of the public can use, was a condition for granted approval you have yours and your staff and have  one to be accessible to members of the public and in this way. We can increase the more practical use of public sanitation facilities across the country,” Fashola stated.

He stated that education could also be used as a tool to introduce a new culture of sanitation in the younger generation.

“So if we solve these, I am convinced this is the key to sanitation and  we will not spend the time trying to use hospitals, this time, with access to quality and clean water, would make sure that our environment is clean, make sure that we do not defecate openly, make sure that there is proper disposal of human and solid waste will be on a go. For me, public health concerns and public health issues are a battle between wellness and illness because sanitation is a major component within wellness. Younger people more easier to communicate with those of you parents or grandparents just think back when you are talking to your children at home, they always emphasize that ‘my teacher said’. So that is why we must use the Ministry of Education. We must use the sub-national governments, particularly where primary schools are, to boost a new culture, a habit, a way of life that they will remember forever.”