Toilet Business Owners and the race to meet Nigeria’s open defecation- free target

Ms Ori Adia, a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Coordinator in Ado Local Government Area in Benue State, got a new name, ‘Mummy Sato’.

For her, it is not just a name, but a call to action and compliance to stop open defecation in communities in her local government area.

Adia, a beneficiary of Lixil Technologies’ distribution of (SATO pans) to toilet business owners at reduced prices, resell them to community members at affordable prices.

For the WASH Coordinator, like many other Toilet Business Owners (TBOs), access to SATO pans have proven to be a huge success in Nigeria’s open defecation fight and hygiene promotion.

“When people see me, they say ‘Mummy Sato’ is coming, no one defecates openly, there is no open defecation around me.

“For those who purchase SATO pans, and constructed their toilets, I give them soaps for free, we don’t sell Satopans alone, we also sell cements and sanitary fittings at reduced prices”.

SATO pans uses trap-door technology to transform an open pit into a closed one, designed in a simple, affordable, and easy to clean, and requiring less than 1L of water per flush.

It immediately improves the sanitation experience for consumers with open pits, drastically minimising bad odour and passage of insects into pits.

In recent years, it has become increasingly evident that investing in sanitation and hygiene not only saves lives, but also supports child nutrition, growth and wellbeing; promotes environmental safety, bolsters education.

This has a positive impact on equity and dignity; provides a foundation for economic growth; and generally, supports the attainment of the other Sustainable Development Goals.

Sadly, a large proportion of Nigerians do not have access to basic sanitation services.

According to the WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) 2021, an estimated 23 per cent of Nigerians (48 million people) defecate in the open, while only 44 per cent of the population has access to basic sanitation services.

This poor access to sanitation services is further complicated by the persistent lack of improved toilets in households and public institutions.

Therefore, acceleration in the provision of improved sanitation facilities is needed if Nigeria is to meet the SDG sanitation targets by 2030.

It may be recalled that the SDGs sought out an ambitious target in goal 6.2 to achieve sustainable access to safely managed sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030, with the Federal Government of Nigeria committing to these targets.

The Nigerian government unveiled a National Action Plan in 2018 to provide safe, sustainable sanitation and hygiene services to Nigerians by 2030, with the goal to put an end to open defection by 2025.

But stakeholders believe significant mobilisation will be necessary to accomplish the ambition for better services, which may be supported by the networks, resources, and innovation of the private sector.

According to UNICEF, meeting this target is a daunting task especially in Nigeria, as an estimated 3.9 million new toilets will be required annually to move millions of households up the sanitation ladder by 2030.

According to the National Open Defecation Free (ODF) Roadmap, achieving an ODF Nigeria would require constructing nearly 20 million household toilets and 43,000 toilets in schools, health centres and public places.

This, would require an average annual investment of about N100 billion (approximately 75 per cent household investment; 25 per cent government contribution).

Making this vision a reality will, among other things, require increased levels of sanitation service delivery by the private sector, who will certainly be responsible for constructing these toilets across the country.

At the just concluded Toilet Business Owners’ Conference, calls were made for the promotion of Sanitation Marketing and Financing strategies to be promoted by Nigeria and development partners.

This would be done by strengthening sanitation markets and making available affordable finances for households to build toilets.

According to Mrs Chizoma Opara, National Coordinator of the Clean Nigeria Campaign programme, these strategies have led to the construction of thousands of improved toilets across the country.

This, she said had the potential to move millions of people up the sanitation ladder, towards an open defecation free country.

Opara however noted the huge role that awareness creation and behavior change communication would play in the national Open Defecation Free (ODF) campaign, saying this was the smartest step forward.

According to Chisom Adimorah, WASH Specialist, UNICEF Nigeria, there is a huge potential for private sector engagement and investment to significantly enhance and sustain sanitation coverage in Nigeria.

She said they were the powerhouse and key apparatus for growth, development, poverty alleviation in Nigeria, as 96 per cent of Nigerian businesses (39.7 million) are Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

“MSMEs contribution to the national GDP is at 46.5 per cent, 39,654 of these businesses are classified under the WASH sector, they provide the lion’s share of employment in the country, they provide jobs for 60 million people and account for 77 per cent of national workforce.

“Despite constraints – access to finance, political instability, policy uncertainties, structural challenges – many private firms have remained resilient”.

According to Michael Adegbe, Leader, SATO Nigeria, the organisation was poised to the achievement of safely managed sanitation using affordable technologies.

He said through its SATO pans, sanitation businesses have been established, leading to the promotion of improved health and contributing to economic growth in the communities.

Adegbe said the ‘Make A Splash’ partnership project between SATO and UNICEF, was aimed at creating business solutions to drive the creation of a smart sanitation economy.

This, he added was by partnering to develop consumer driven business solutions to help governments deliver universal access to sanitation while supporting governments to enable the growth of the private sector and sanitation economy.

“We are strengthening markets that provide products and services that enable safely managed sanitation for all contexts and incomes. Also building innovative financial instruments that can activate national sanitation economies and improve lives,” he said.

Similarly, Dr Jane Bevan, UNICEF Chief of WASH, says Nigeria will need to build no fewer than 3.9 million toilets annually to meet the open defecation-free target by 2025.

Bevan said that current toilet construction in the country stood between 180,000 – 200,000 toilets annually, describing it as inadequate.

She said the conference was timely as toilet business owners were key to ending open defecation challenges in Nigeria.

She noted the need to do things differently by creating demand for toilets, saying the private sector could play huge roles for sustainability and strengthening sanitation markets in the country.

“About 1.3 per cent of GDP or N455 billion is lost annually due to poor access to sanitation – health, health care savings and productivity.

“Every dollar invested in water and sanitation results in economic benefits ranging from 3 dollars to 34 dollars.

“Nigeria cannot continue business as usual or it will miss the target of 2025 and 2030. There is need to strengthen and scale up proven strategies to reach the country’s goals”.

WaterAid Nigeria Representative, Mr Solomon Akpanufot, noted that Nigeria must do things differently to achieve the ODF target by 2025, saying the sanitation sector was under a lot of pressure.

“If we must meet the goal of ending open defecation by 2025 and then the SDG6.2, which has to do with sanitation, the TBOs need to partner with all stakeholders and government to ensure that every household and institution in Nigeria has decent toilet and makes use of the toilet,” he added.

Consequently, Mr Chukwuma Nnanna, Executive Director, Toiletpride Initiative, said one of the biggest challenges in realising an open defecation-free environment was the lack of enabling environment for sanitation businesses to thrive.

Nnanna, who is also the convener of the conference, said that TBOs and sanitation entrepreneurs were yet to be mobilised to their full potential.

According to him, Nigeria barely has 8 years to the end of the SDG target, noting the increased need for harmonization of actions, mobilisation of resources and increase investments.

This, he added would create an enabling environment for the private sanitation businesses thrive and meet sanitation challenges in Nigeria.

All in all, experts believe that the TBO conference had served as a veritable platform for dialogue on increasing levels of sanitation delivery in Nigeria.

Article By Tosin Kolade, News Agency of Nigeria.

Naija Environment News

Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *