48m Nigerians still practise open defecation –Minister

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The Minister of State for Environment, Dr Iziaq Adekunle Salako, on Thursday said that 48 million Nigerians representing about 23 percent of the country’s population still practise open defecation as Nigeria races against the 2025 deadline to end open defecation.

Salako spoke in Abuja during a joint public hearing organised by the House of Representatives joint committees on Environment, Water Resources, Ecological Fund, Works, Emergency and Disaster Preparedness.

He said that Nigeria was lagging behind in meeting the target of ending open defecation by 2025, adding that the federal government needed to construct at least one million public toilets in public facilities across the country as part of efforts to meet the target.

He said so far, only 5,000 toilets had been provided by the federal government across the country, adding that 159 million Nigerians lacked washing hand facilities.

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The minister however assured that the ministry had taken various steps to address the issue of open defecation in the country, adding that it had developed the National Environmental Sanitation Policy and its guidelines on sewage and excreta management to guide the professional conduct on proper excreta disposal and control of open defecation in the country.

He said the ministry established sanitation desks in the 36 states’ ministries of environment and FCT to monitor and ensure proper environmental sanitation at the community and household levels by conducting routine sanitary inspections of premises, and sensitising the public to dangers of open defecation and the importance of having access to toilet in residential and public places.

Speaking earlier, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Abbas Tajudeen, said public hearing was initiated by the House to tackle the growing incidence of open defecation in Nigeria which poses grave risks to health and undermines dignity and quality of life.

“As representatives of the people, we cannot remain idle observers of this happening, I firmly believe that every citizen should have access to facilities enabling them to maintain good sanitation and hygiene practices. In doing so, we are ensuring that our fellow Nigerians are protected not only in terms of public health but also in the dignity of our fundamental human rights.

“Also, we cannot ignore the pressing demand for additional toilets across the nation. Clean and secure sanitation facilities are a fundamental human right that remains inaccessible to millions of citizens,” he said.

On his part, the House committee chairman on Environment, Pondi Julius Gbabojor, said the public hearing was to create a platform for stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue, share insights, and propose actionable recommendations to address the pressing issues at hand.

“It is an opportunity for us to harness collective wisdom, expertise, and resources towards finding lasting solutions that will positively impact the lives of millions of Nigerians,” he said.

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