Minister of Environment, Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar has said that out of the world’s 7.8 billion people, 4.2 billion still defecate in the open.
Abubakar who disclosed this at the 2020 World Toilet Day celebration, frowned at the figure and the poor sanitation system described it as a very disturbing situation and totally unacceptable.
He said the theme for this year’s World Toilet Day is, ‘’Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change’’ focuses on drawing attention to the adverse impacts of climate change on sanitation systems.
Abubakar said the theme is quite apt as it draws attention to the fact that climate change is getting worse, flood, drought, and rising sea levels were threatening sanitation systems.
According to him, poor sanitation increases the risk of disease and malnutrition, especially for women and children.
“Sanitation is a global development priority, this is why in 2013, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated 19 November every year as World Toilet Day to raise awareness on the importance of toilets and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.
“To overcome this global crisis, the UN has also established a target dedicated to sanitation in the form of SDG 6 (Ensure access to water and sanitation for all): that everyone has access to toilets by 2030. We must therefore double our efforts to ensure everyone everywhere has access to safe toilets,” he said.
The minister said access to sanitary facilities remains a mirage to a vast majority of the citizenry, adding that about 47 million Nigerians still practice open defecation, hence many people still use the bush and water bodies as their regular means for excreta disposal.
According to him, many institutions do not have sanitary facilities, and where they exist they are either not functioning or misused; most urban areas do not have sewerage systems, safe collection of sewage and disposal, therefore, become a huge challenge as many of the bodies of water including rivers and streams become a repository for sewage and wastewater.
He explained that sanitation is a cross-cutting issue that requires the active participation of various sectors of Government as well as Development Partners, NGOs, CBOs, local communities, etc, for reasonable impact to be made, calling on the Private Sector and other stakeholders to partner with the Ministry and Government at all levels in providing sanitary facilities for communities especially the rural areas where open defecation is a norm.
Abubakar said the Federal Government of Nigeria is committed to addressing the sanitation challenges including ending open defecation in the country and ensuring proper management of excreta.
He said that as a practical demonstration of the Ministry’s commitment to open defecation free Nigeria by 2025, the Ministry has within the past one year constructed and handed over modern public toilets to State Governments.
Other toilet projects, according to him, are at various stages of completion and it is expected that this will be replicated in all the Local Governments of the federation.