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Harpic seeks end to open defaecation in Lagos

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Abiodun Bamgboye


To tackle open defecation in Lagos State, RB (Reckitt Benckiser) has partnered with the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment to upgrade and refurbish 25 public toilet units in four communities in the state.

The refurbishment is part of a long strategic partnership established with the Lagos State Government to tackle open defaecation. The newly refurbished toilets are located in Ojota, Oshodi, Costain and Alausa. The toilets will be manned by 32 toilet managers under the payroll of Harpic, which is also providing other cleaning materials for the facilities.

According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), open defaecation is seen as the practice where people go out “in the fields, bushes, forests, or other open spaces, rather than using the toilet, to defecate” and according to UNICEF, Nigeria is among the nations in the world with the highest number of people practicing open defaecation, estimated at over 46 million people with a projected 56 million new cases in the next 10 years. The practice has had a negative effect on the populace, especially children, in the areas of health and education and had contributed to the country’s failure to meet the MDG target.

The adverse effects of open defaecation in the country prompted the National Council on Water Resources in 2014 to prioritise the development of a roadmap towards eliminating open defaecation in the country, in line with the United Nations global campaign for ending open defaecation. A World Bank Report (2012) revealed that the country loses N455 billion/$3 billion yearly due to poor sanitation. This works out to US$ 20 per capita yearly and constitutes 1.3% of Nigeria’s GDP.

Sriram added that the brand was interested in tackling the challenge of open defecation in Nigeria as a way of ensuring healthier and happier lives in Nigeria. “The Harpic toilet refurbishment project will result in big positive attitudinal change, which will impact the lives of the people and the environment. Our immediate priority is to change consumer behaviour for a healthy environment. We want every Nigerian to use clean and safe toilets. This is possible, only if we all join hands to work towards this goal. Open defaecation is not only dehumanizing, but it is also an abuse of human rights. Harpic wants this abuse of the environment and human rights to stop. Hence, this collaboration that has seen Harpic taking charge of the end-open -defaecation campaign in the state.”

In his welcome address, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of the Environment, Abiodun Bamgboye, commended the brand for her continued support in building a hygienic and healthy environment in the state. Bamgboye stated the donation is another step in the right direction. He encouraged greater partnership with the private and public sector to further boost the welfare of the people in the state.

RB West Africa Marketing Director, Aliza Leferink, said the programme was targeted to reach over one million homes in 16 cities to educate and encourage people to use clean toilets regularly.Leferink stated that usage of clean toilets is capable of preventing diseases, even as she requested for societal support towards a behavioural change to tackle the menace of open defecation in the state. She urged the residents of the benefiting communities to support the maintenance and proper utilisation of the 26 refurbished public toilet units in Lagos.Present at the commissioning were notable dignitaries from the Lagos State Government, heads of government agencies and key executives of RB.


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