In a bid to free Nigeria from the menace of open defecation, the Federal Government on Monday pledged to provide public toilet facilities across the nation.
The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, made the disclosure when he formally inaugurated the Clean Nigeria Campaign Secretariat in Abuja.
Adamu said that the clean campaign “is a national programme to re-strategise on ways to do away with the menace of open defecation in Nigeria.”
The minister, who decried the level of the practice, said the Federal Government had already committed itself to the task when President Muhammadu Buhari declared the state of emergency on water, sanitation and hygiene sector.
He said that the task was one of the major focuses of the present administration.
“This national transformation campaign is aimed at addressing the unfortunate position in which Nigeria finds itself as the first country in Africa and second globally behind India in the practice of open defecation,“ he said.
Adamu also performed the inauguration of the Planning Committee for Presidential Launch of Clean Nigeria Campaign.
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs Comfort Ekaro, commended the minister for his remarkable achievements in Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in the country.
Ekaro said the ministry had made progress with focused reforms in all the sub-sectors in the ministry`s agencies including WASH.
“For the first time in the history of the water sector, the ministry collaborated with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and Development Partners notably UNICEF and World Bank to develop dedicated tools towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),”she said.
Mr Zaid Jurji, Chief of WASH in UNICEF, commended Adamu and the Federal Government for its commitment toward eradicating the practice in Nigeria.
Jurji said that UNICEF in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and National Bureau of Statistics with support from other development partners took drastic steps in 2018 to assess the state of WASH.
The initiative, UNICEF chief said, was with a view to finding key challenges that could be addressed to ensure the right to adequate WASH facilities for all Nigerians.
“The survey revealed that only 11 per cent of Nigerians have access to basic WASH services.
“24 per cent of the population practise open defecation with rural dwellers having an average per capital share of fewer than 4 liters of water per day,“ he said.
According to him, Nigeria`s level of access to WASH services lagged far behind those of other countries in the region.
He, however, said that the country had both human and financial resources to tackle the challenge.
The UNICEF chief pointed out that as one of the biggest economies in Africa, and with the highest level of commitment, the country was capable of addressing the sector`s deficiencies.