By EZKIEL DONTINNA
IN a bid to ensure open defecation free (ODF) in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources is set to launch a “Clean Nigeria, use the Toilet Campaign” that subsequently would be replicated across the 36 states of the federation.
The General Manager Plateau State Rural Water and Sanitation Agency (PRUWASSA) Engr. Peter Kassam, disclosed this last Saturday, while responding to questions from Journalists at the EU-UNICEF Quarter “H WASGH) Clinic organized by PRUWASSA, held the conference hall of Shendam LGC Secretariat.
He said, “we are here to assess our successes, share experiences and lessons learned and of course, come out with the challenges faced in the process of implementation in these communities. Shendam is the biggest local government under the project and has been the forefront, but we are facing some challenges here and after this we will sit down in the WASH Department and iron out all the lapses.
“This clinic is unique because the direction nationally is to make Nigeria an Open –Defecation free country by 2025 and it is with emphasis. We want to make all the committees or local governments know that our state Governor, Dr Simon Lalong has key into the process by declaring a state of emergency last when was in New York at the Global Citizens Festival to make his own state commitment of moving the state to ODF by 2027.
“The Traditional Councils have shown interest and we need to have enforcement to ensure every local government come out with its bye-law to stop open defection before the formal launching by the state Governor. You also is aware that by next week, the Federal Government through the ministry of Water Resources is going to launch the “clean Nigeria, use the Toilet” campaign which will be replicated by the states, “the General Manager disclosed.
Kassam, however, stated that they were looking forward to launching the ODF Roadmap for Plateau State revealing that the Governor would formally launch the “use the toilet-clean Nigeria” for them to move ahead of other states and called on the key-players of the project to be proactive and fast track the target.
On his part, the UNICEF-WASH Consultant for Plateau State, Mr. George Bekinbo, said the essence of the meeting was for them to look at the successes recorded, including the challenges and lessons learned during the period under review.
He said “by March 2020, Shendam LG should be Open Defecation free in preparation to the state target of 2023 for the 17 Local Government Areas. Let’s keep pushing and give our best!”
Also speaking, the Director WASH in Shendam LGC, Mr. Magaji Augustine Pam called on the people of Shendam to construct toilet facilities and stop defecating in the open because it was major cause of environmental related ailments that could be avoided and promised not to rest on his oars but ensure that households in the area comply with the help of traditional councils.
The state Co-ordinator of WASH MEDIA, Pastor Esther Chindapba said they were able to improve visibility by creating more awareness on the need to stop open defecation, decried that they discovered that there were gaps in some communities because they were yet to understand the importance of having a toilet, hence the need to educate them.
However, the traditional leader Libagaras of Shendam, Miskoom Tanko Hoomlok Yemsen promised to collaborate with the local government and make it a law in his community for people to pay a fine for not having a toilet facilities in them.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Water Resources and Energy, Hon. Ibrahim Sa’ad Bello, represented by the Ministry’s Deputy Director, Water Resources, Mr. Dakat J. Jacob, described the WASH Clinic as impacting and called on the benefitting communities to ensure they own the facilities because they belong to them be it government or UNICEF.