The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, says proprietors of petrol stations and shopping malls will soon get a directive to provide public convenience so as to discourage open defecation in and around their premises.
Adamu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday that the directive would help in curtailing indiscriminate open defecation, noting that it is sad that many of such facilities lack toilets for public use.
He said the implications of poor Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) affect the economy, health, education, child development and loss of dignity.
According to him, there have been reports of persons getting bitten by snakes while defecating in the bushes and that women were especially the hardest hit. “When women and men go to the bush, they are vulnerable to attacks, they are vulnerable to snake bites and other brutal attacks.
“If you go to places such as Kaltungo, where they have a lot of snake bites happening because people go out to defecate in the open, and they get into trouble with reptiles,” he said.
The minister said the Federal Government had developed and inaugurated a National Open Defecation Roadmap and the Partnership for Expanded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) programme are actions taken to tackle the menace.
He said the development of a National WASH action plan led to the declaration of a state of emergency in the water and sanitation sector, with a strong commitment to end open defecation by 2025.
Adamu added that next steps included the implementation of the National proposal to end open defecation, saying the campaigns required leadership and commitment at the highest policy level.
“We need Presidential backing and for Mr. President to personally launch this programme at a very convenient time, that is the ‘Clean Nigeria, Use the Toilet Campaign’ is a demonstration of commitment,” the minister.
Adamu noted that the strategy to be implemented would be the formulation of a WASH Fund, which would not rely on budgetary allocations alone, but private-sector driven.
He said partnership was ongoing with Procter and Gamble, Coca Cola and Reckitt Beckister, among others, with leverage on Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) and support, stressing the imperative of inter-ministerial collaboration.
NAN recalls that the Federal Executive Council meeting had approved the launch of a campaign aimed at ending open defecation in the country.
The minister said the annual budget of N10.6 billion will be needed for a nation-wide campaign.
“Mr President himself will launch the Clean Nigeria campaign on a date to be decided. The campaign is called ‘Clean Nigeria, Use The Toilet.’
“The President and other members of the Federal Executive Council are to become the first set of ambassadors for the campaign by providing the needed leadership and commitment for the successful implementation of the campaign.
“We also hope to create a clean Nigerian environment and harmonise ministerial activities so that we have a seamless approach and seamless policies regarding sanitation in the country.
“We requested for an annual budget of about N10.6billion to be approved. This money will not be taken out of the annual budget alone.
“We will also have contributions from development partners from the corporate world including Corporate Social Responsibility funds and grants,” he said.