The National Task Group on Sanitation on Wednesday declared Four new Local Government Areas open defecation free, having met requirements in the Open Defecation Free (ODF) Protocol.
The Local Government Areas are; Nsit Atai in Akwa Ibom State, Gagarawa and Kiyawa of Jigawa State, and Agatu in Benue State.
At the monthly meeting of the National Task Group on Sanitation on Wednesday in Abuja, the Chairman, Mr Emmanuel Awe, noted that the declaration makes a total of 20 local government areas now defecation-free.
Receiving the reports from validators who went on the field to verify claimed reports from the local government authorities, Awe thanked the team and members of the group to improve Sanitation and hygiene in the country.
According to him, Nigeria ought to do through collective effort in making sure that open defecation practice ended, saying that as the largest open defecator globally, it cannot be ‘business as usual’.
He said 754 local government areas still needed to be open defecation free, noting that current efforts show that one in two persons defecate openly in the country, and has no access to toilets.
The chairman said Nigeria ought to take a cue from India who made commitment through political will and financial provision to end open defecation in the country.
He hinted that at the upcoming World Bank Spring for Finance Ministers’ meetings in April, discussions would be to see how countries would increase budgets for sanitation and hygiene in line with the Sustainable Development Goals six.
On possible relapse of communities declared open defecation free, Mr Nanpet Chuktu, Programme Manager of Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria, United Purpose, noted that plans were on the way to bring all traditional leaders to a meeting to see work out sustainability plans.
Chuktu, whose organisation is implementing the programme in Benue and Cross River states said Agatu local government had made steady efforts towards ending open defecation, saying the delay was from the farmers-herdsmen crises some time ago.
He added that communities have been triggered and empowered on Simple Doable Actions that will help to maintain ODF status and promote sustainability in hygiene promotion.
Mrs Yemisi Akpa, a member of the Task Group and staff of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, noted that efforts were on to review the ODF Guideline, saying it would involve a post ODF monitoring towards ending relapse of defecation-free communities.
“We recognise that some ODF communities may have a relapse, that is why we are designing a post ODF guideline for monitoring them.
“This would involve follow-up visits from time to time to see that they maintain the status. “
A Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Specialist for UNICEF, Mr Bioye Ogunjobi, commended the team for efforts made so far at getting more Local government areas open defecation free.
Ogunjobi urged the NTGS and other stakeholders to key into efforts already made in some communities, as they could be ‘low hanging fruits’ for programme success.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that today’s declaration makes a total of 20 local government areas, now open defecation free.