The House of Representatives has urged the Federal Ministries of Water Resources, Health and Environment to prioritise efforts on aggressive rural water and sanitation projects.
The House noted that the provision of potable water and functional toilet facilities will help the country to achieve an Open Defecation Free society.
The House says it plans to establish a Legislative Caucus in Nigeria to be at par with its sister legislative bodies in the Sub-Saharan African region, to bring together a diversity of shared knowledge and raise awareness on water and sanitation issues to create collective action on open defecation.
At the plenary on Tuesday, the House had unanimously adopted a motion of urgent public importance as moved by a member, Sada Soli, titled ‘Need to Address and Tackle the Challenges of Open Defecation in Nigeria.’
Moving the motion, Soli noted that Nigeria still tops the global league of countries with open defecation prevalence, with an estimate of 47 million Nigerians indulging in the practice. He also noted that there had been concerted efforts by the Federal and State Governments to curb the incidence of open defecation across the country.
As part of the government’s efforts towards removing Nigeria from its “unenviable world ranking” in open defecation, Soli said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on 20th November 2019, signed an Executive Order 009, titled ‘Open Defecation Free Nigeria by 2025 and Other Related Matters.’
The lawmaker noted that there was a call during the recent World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal, for the United Nations to establish a global platform for water, to bring together political and economic decision-makers, multilateral institutions, academia, civil societies, and the private sector to find solutions to water and sanitation issues.
He added that the legislative WASH Caucuses are now in vogue in many legislative bodies in the West Africa sub-region, as part of the roles parliamentarians play in developing laws and policies to improve grassroots awareness and access to potable water and sanitation, to eradicate the menace of open defecation.
Soli said, “The House is disturbed that Nigeria is at the brink of becoming the number one country with the highest number of people in the world practicing open defecation.
“The House is worried that efforts in the past to address the situation had yielded minimal results and if there is no concrete effort all and sundry, Nigeria will not be able to meet the projected target of the Executive Order 009 by 2025.
“The House is also worried that according to United Nations Children’s Fund, sanitation in Nigeria is very poor, with the vast majority of people in rural areas lacking decent toilets and latrines, which estimates about 122,000 Nigerians, including 87,000 children under the age of five dies who every year from diarrhoea, intestinal worm infections, cholera, hepatitis, typhoid and other preventable sanitation illnesses.
“The House is cognisant that if the current efforts are not improved upon, Nigeria may not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals No. 6 which intends to attain Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).”