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Group engages the stage in war against open defecation

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja
08 December 2019   |   3:14 am
The World Toilet Day was commemorated recently across the globe to create awareness on the health implications of open defecation and other forms of environmental pollution

Open defecation. Photo; DOWNTOEARTH

World Toilet Day was commemorated recently across the globe to create awareness on the health implications of open defecation and other forms of environmental pollution. In Nigeria, the day was marked with several sensitization campaign programmes.

However, to impress the campaign in memory of people, a group under the umbrella of The Number Two Initiative For a Healthy Environment, resolved to engage the instrumentality of the stage as a veritable means of communicating the message to the people of Jiwa, a community in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Performed at the palace of the Emir of Jiwa Alhaji Idris Musa, the three-man drama sketch addressed several environmental and health issues, including those of environmental sanitation, health hazard of open defecation as well as the role of government in instilling disciplinary measures on the citizens.

At the end of the presentation that was conveyed in the language of the people, the audience admitted to the fact that the medium of information was better understood than the conventional awareness programmes delivered in the usual manner. According to one of the youths, believed to be grossly guilty of open defecation, beyond lack of toilet facilities, ignorance was a major factor in the community.

“Now, I have learned,” he said. “There is nothing more to add. I thank the people for acting this drama for us.”
While commending the group for considering the community, the traditional ruler, Alhaji Musa, admitted that the approach adopted in educating the people would linger for long in the people’s sub-consciousness. He expressed worries that the people have not taken the issue of environment sanitation seriously in spite of earlier campaigns and warnings. According to him, it behooves the people to keep their environment clean.
Chairman, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Abdullahi Adamu Candido, noted that the level of environmental pollution in Nigeria has become of great concern. According to him, the sensitization programme had succeeded in enlightening the people in such a manner that they would subsequently brace up to the occasion of making toilet facilities available in
their homes.

Speaking on the responsibility of government to the people, Candido informed that on assumption of office in 2016, one of his first assignments was to see that preventive measures were put in place.
“We quickly set up Abuja Municipal Area Council Environmental Cadets whose responsibility was to go round the area council to ensure that citizens are enlightened on the need to have toilet facilities. As a way of supporting them, toilet facilities were later provided to some communities with population explosion to prevent open defecation. Also to ensure compliance, the cadets go-round on a daily basis to monitor implementation.
“Over seven cadets were appointed for each ward. The essence was to guard against open defecation, and the cadets were doing the best they could to ensure that this objective was achieved.”
Also at the ceremony was the Deputy Registrar, Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria, Dr. Mohammed Baba Yakubu. In his remarks, he reiterated the need for private sector participation in addressing environmental issues, which he informed, is everybody’s business.
Commending the group for its effort at organising such an impactful project, Yakubu reminded the audience that sanitation is a community-based issue that requires the involvement of all citizens.
For the representative of the group, Shakirat Salawudeen, the choice of Jiwa community was informed by several reports received on the prevalence of open defecation and high level of environmental pollution observed in the community.