The Federal Government has launched the Organized Private Sector in Water Sanitation and Hygiene (OPSWASH) in Abuja while also calling for the support of the Organized Private Sector in ending Open Defecation in Nigeria.
The launch is part of moves to reverse current data that shows Nigeria ranking number one, in open defecation practices in Africa
The Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman H. Adamu, who made the call, said it is very expedient that Nigeria leverages on the capabilities of the private sector in dealing with inadequate Water, hygiene and sanitation services.
He was speaking at an Organized Private Sector Initiative to End Open Defecation in Nigeria.
“The SDGs have also reiterated this point that the eradication of inequality in water and sanitation cannot be achieved without greater emphasis on private sector engagement. We are thus very lucky to be gathered at such a unique workshop, as it is an unprecedented opportunity to come together under one umbrella, called Organized Private Sector in Water Sanitation and Hygiene (OPSWASH).”
“Moreover, we are on the brink of being ranked first globally, as approximately 47 million people do not have access to sanitation services in its most basic form. Understandably, this is a serious concern to all of us as it has immense economic consequences and also hinders the social development of the country.
“This program will address the challenges of financing the WASH sector through the collaboration of all stakeholders including the private sector in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) WASH targets by 2030. As such, it is a great pleasure to participate in what I believe will yield ground-breaking results, in light of the challenges at hand”.
“The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 is aimed at ensuring the availability of WASH services as well as the sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030. Target 6.2 is focused on achieving access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and to end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.”
The minister also emphasised that women and children are mostly exposed to diseases, and their dignity undermined while carrying out open defecation.
“There is also a gentler inequality issue which must be addressed with urgency. If effective solutions are not found, the non-availability of sanitation facilities inadvertently exposes women and girls to violence, including rape, when they are forced to go out at night to defecate in the open.”
According to him, water and sanitation are pivotal to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals target.
“A World Bank Report (2012), said around 122,000 Nigerians including 87,000 children under 5, die each year from diarrhoea with nearly 90% of these deaths being directly attributed to water, sanitation and hygiene.”
“The 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey indicated that about 43.6% of children under the age of 5 are moderately and severely stunted due to poor nutrition and recurrent or chronic illness. This, of course, has severe consequences for the educational development of children.”
The Chief of WASH, UNICEF, Zaid Jurji, however, explained the need for more communities to be certified Open Defecation free in Nigeria.
“At the moment, only 13 Local Government are Open Defecation Free in Nigeria, 8 of those communities are with UNICEF support. There is a need for more work to be done in this regard, as there are more ground to be covered at the moment”.
He further charged key players in the private sector to be fully involved in the eradication of Open Defecation, while also urging them to take part in the provision of water to some communities.
“We are proposing that each private sector should be responsible for each community, and aid in eradicating Open Defecation. This will help in changing the narrative, and bring about the desired change in the community, and the country as well.
Speaking on the issue of sanitation marketing, he emphasized on the need to create awareness for artisans, bricklayers, and the semi-skilled workforce on the issue of hygiene and making good choices.