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Executive Order 009 And Open Defecation

Four years ago, the Federal Government launched Partnership for Expanded Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) policy in 2016. Out of the 29 states that signed the PEWASH policy, only 12 states have made concerted efforts to follow due process for ultimate implementation which is to end open defecation by 2020. To show the seriousness attached to ending open defection in Nigeria, the President signed the Executive Order 009 to give the policy biting teeth against offenders and that henceforth, the Federal Government will only partner states that express commitment and seriousness to end or stop open defecation in their domains. The plans to ensure that Nigeria attains a free status against open defecation started in Stockholm, Sweden at the World Water Week when Nigeria attended and at the end signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Water Resources and Action Aid on Water Sanitation and Hygiene, shortly referred to as WASH programme. The WASH would not have been effective without the declaration of a "State of Emergency" on November 8, 2019 solely to formalize renewed partnership between the federal and state governments towards impactful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with involvement of the Federal Government to proactively mentor, support states' investments, and revolutionary efforts against open defecation. It is the thinking of Nigerians that the time is now for the Ministry of Water Resources and its agencies to re-strategize so as to effectively implement the WASH action plan to actually put an end to open defecation following the recent flag-off of the "Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet campaign which is an innovative platform to end open defecation. Nigerians are also skeptical of the success of this programme given the death path treaded by other lofty projects in Nigeria. Except adequate and constant water supply is vigorously pursued for the rural settlement and hamlets given deficit of water schemes/projects in these communities, how be it, it is worth commending the Ministry of Water Resources for implementing two pilot projects in Kano and Ogun States which engulfed over N1.6 billion for the provision of 537 hand pumps, 111 solarpowered boreholes in Kano and 101 in Ogun, either constructed, rehabilitated or ungraded. It also supported Ondo State Rural Water Supply Agency by rehabilitating 1000 hand pump boreholes. Now, the emphasizes is on continuity and geographical spread. The PEWASH, WASH and Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet project policies or schemes will succeed only if the states are religiously committed in payment of their counterpart funds and follow up/adapt to guidelines. This is because acute shortage of water supply have caused and will continue to pose hardship and health challenges such as diarrhoea, dysentary, rashes, vomiting etc. to people, especially children. Shortage of water also results in poor sanitary conditions whereby the women lack the required quantity of water to maintain cleanliness, especially during their monthly flow. Also, frequent handwashing is considered a waste of scarce water which is considered as essential resources. With these challenges, open defecation and use of pit toilet becomes the norm as lack of water to flush and clean the toilet renders the house uncomfortable to live in following stench smells. To ameliorate the above situations, every state government in Nigeria should construct or build water projects of not less than 50,000 litres storage capacity in each political ward and reticulate same to all the villages or units within. While the state governments are responsible for constructing, building, rehabilitating or upgrading existing water project or schemes, if any, reticulation to the different village units should be handled by the local government authorities, organizations or public-spirited individuals. At this point, the local governments through the Public Works Department (PWD) should also take responsibility of digging soakaway or pits for every home at rock-bottom cost for people to have toilet in their homes. A management committee comprising of the traditional heads should be constituted to manage the water intervention projects. The committee is for the maintenance, sustenance and provision of solutions whenever any and wherever problems may arise. With this framework of water and sanitation interventions by the states, local governments, organization etc, it will be possible to end open defecation for improved sanitation and improved lifestyle in our local communities on or before 2023.

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