The Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, has reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to end open defecation in the country.
Abubakar gave the assurance in Abuja on Thursday at a Ministerial Press Briefing held to commemorate the “2020 World Toilet Day”, which has “Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change” as its theme.
He said that the theme was apt, as it underscored the necessity for technologically sound systems for proper waste management and sanitary hygiene practices.
He stressed that the government’s commitment was demonstrated by President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of state of emergency in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector.
He also identified the signing of the Executive Order on Open Defecation Free Nigeria by 2025 as another demonstration of the government’s commitment.
The minister said that the ministry, in collaboration with critical stakeholders, had reviewed and validated the 2005 National Environmental Sanitation Policy Guidelines on safe excreta and sewage disposal.
“The intervention in control of open defecation and the Clean and Green Programme of the ministry are aimed at promoting the provision of safe and adequate toilets across the country,’’ he said.
Abubakar said that the ministry recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Centre for Science and Environment, India, on technology transfer, capacity building and research development in the area of water sanitation.
He said that the centre would be conducting a specialised online training in toilet design and faecal sludge management and reuse for at least 50 Nigerian officials.
He said that the officials would comprise environmental health and sanitation desk officers across the 36 states and the FCT, as well as members of inter-ministerial committee on national sanitation.
Abubakar said that the ministry had handed over modern public toilets to state governments, as part of practical measures initiated to end open defecation by 2025.
“These toilets, which are part of the ministry’s community-based waste management programme, are to be managed by private-sector operators for viability and sustainability,” he said.
He said that other toilet projects were at various stages of completion, adding that hopefully, the projects would be replicated in all the local governments of the federation.
The minister challenged all national, state and local government stakeholders in the environment sector, particularly sanitation, to take practical steps and actions as agents of change.
“I must remind us that with just 10 years to go, the 2030 deadline to attain the SDG goals for the sake of our people and the planet, we must redouble our efforts,” he said.
Dr Yakubu Baba, the Acting Registrar, Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria, called on other ministries to key into the programme.
Dr Edwin Isotu, National Consultant, Public Health and Environment, World Health Organisation (WHO), said that investing in sustainable sanitation would boost efforts to create more jobs for Nigerian youths.