Moves to check indiscriminate defecation in public places and its associated health challenges may have seen President Muhammadu Buhari signing Executive Order 009 to outlaw the practice.
The policy is expected to make Nigeria open defecation free by 2025.
The president approved the policy against the backdrop of Nigeria being ranked second amongst nations with the highest number of people practising open defecation, estimated at over 46 million people.
The practice, which has had a negative effect on the populace contributed to the country’s failure to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), is expected to be monitored and implemented by the Ministry of Water Resources in conjunction with other stakeholders.
As a way of meeting the objectives, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources is expected to establish a national secretariat called ‘Clean Nigeria Campaign Secretariat’ which shall wind up when the country attains open defecation free status by 2025.
The secretariat is authorised on behalf of the president to implement this order by ensuring that all public places, including schools, hotels, fuel stations, places of worship, marketplaces, hospitals, and offices have accessible toilets and latrines within their premises.
While all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government shall cooperate with the Clean Nigeria Campaign Secretariat, the National Assembly and the state Houses of Assembly are expected to enact legislation on the practice of open defecation with appropriate sanctions and penalties.
According to the presidency, all development projects shall include construction of sanitation facilities as an integral part of the approval and implementation process.
The president had described the statistics on open defecation and access to pipe-borne water service and sanitation as disturbing, and declared his commitment to implementing the National Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) action plan in the country.
Buhari had also declared a state of emergency on Nigeria’s water supply, sanitation and hygiene sector, describing it as being imperative as it would reduce the high prevalence of water-borne diseases in different parts of the country, which have caused preventable deaths.
Nigeria has made a commitment to end open defecation throughout the country by 2025 in consonance with her commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to the statement from the presidency, the policy takes effect from Wednesday, November 20, 2019.