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Making Nigeria open defecation-free by 2025



Open defecation (OD) is the human practice of defecating outside—in the open. In lieu of toilets, people use fields, bushes, forests, open bodies of water or other open space. The practice is common where sanitation infrastructure is not available.

According to the National Road Map on Making Nigeria Open-Defecation-Free by 2025, Nigeria is among the nations in the world with the highest number of people practicing open defecation, estimated at over 46 million people.

Minister of Water Resources and Fellow Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE), Suleiman H. Adamu, in a Foreword to the National Road Map, said 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


Millennium Development Goals (MDG) targets.
The sanitation situation in the country prompted the National Council on Water Resources in 2014 to prioritize the development of a roadmap towards eliminating open defecation in the country, in line with the United Nations global campaign for ending open defecation.

This initiative tagged “Making Nigeria Open Defecation Free by 2025: A National Roadmap” was developed by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources with invaluable support from United Nation Children Education Fund (UNICEF) and other key sector players across Nigeria.

In 2016, the National Council on Water Resources endorsed this road map as a mean to eliminate open defecation in Nigeria. The Roadmap provides a guide towards achieving an open defecation free country using different approaches such as capacity development; promotion of improved technology options through sanitation marketing; provision of sanitation facilities in public places;

Community-Led Total Sanitation; promotional and media campaigns; creating enabling environment and coordination mechanism.

Meanwhile, Yakurr Local Government Area (LGA) of Cross River State is blazing the trial. The National Task Group has officially declared Yakurr LGA Open Defecation Free (ODF) on Sanitation (NTGS) in 2017 and the ODF celebration is scheduled for the first quarter of 2018.

A report of the re-validation of certified ODF communities in Yakurr LGA of Cross River State by NTGS released December 2017 concluded: “All the issues that were identified in the field were tackled using the small immediate doable actions (SIDA) approach, which addressed all the issues. A sustainability plan has been drawn at the LGA for sustaining the ODF Status by the LGA. The LGA staff pledged their support and commitment to sustaining their new status. The clan heads also promised to use their offices to sustain the status and to strife to achieve total sanitation in the shortest possible time. Everyone was commended for their various contributions leading to the 100 per cent success of the programme in Yakurr.”

With headquarters at Ugep, Yakurr is made up of 13 Council Wards, namely: Bikobiko, Ikpakapit, Ijiman, Ijom, Ntan, Ajere, Ekpenti, Nkpolo/Ukpawen, Abanghakpai, Inyima/Ekpeti, Idomi, Mkpani/Agoi and Assiga.

Yakurr has a projected population of 226,636 the Local Government is put at 130,847 with 65,119 male and 65,730 females according to 2006 population census.

The people of Yakurr live in a clustered manner, has led the growing heart of the communities to slumps and has made it difficult for sanitary facilities to be put in place, especially with the introduction of CLTS (Community Led Total Sanitation) which ensures that every household own and uses a latrine. There is specifically one urban center, Ugep and seven small towns with functional LGA Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) structure as well as civil society actors, women organizations, among others.

The need to ensure the existence of acceptable global standard of WASH practices in Cross Rivers State prompted the evaluation of WASH projects being implemented by UNICEF in Cross Rivers State of which Yakurr Local Government Area is one of the beneficiaries.

Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) was introduced to Cross River State in March 2008. Ekom Agoi community was the first community triggered on real life practical demonstration. Other pilot communities include: Ogurokpon in Obubra LGA and Ekori Beach in Yakurr LGA all in March 2008.

In 2010 CLTS was piloted in Ekom Agoi community in Mkpani/Agoi Ward, it was later scaled up to two communities, Epenti Beach and Ajere Beach. Again another 22 communities were later selected due to the success of the previous one, and an Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), WERI, provided support for the triggering and follow-up of those communities consequently, this led to LGA wide approach and urban CLTS was introduced.

Structures were put in place at the Ward level for the LGA wide implementation of CLTS. This was followed by Ward level competition as many wards were declaring self, ODF status.

In 2013 the whole of Yakurr LGA was declared ODF, after being verified by LGA and reconfirmed by Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) and then certified by the State Task Group on Sanitation (STGS) while NTGS carried out validation in the LGA.

According to the report, most communities later relapsed and went back to open defecation status; this became a big challenge, which prompted work to start again in earnest in Yakurr. The consultants, LGA staff and RUWASSA worked so hard.

In 2016 there was a 10 per cent validation of 239 communities, which brought out issues of some schools with collapsed toilets issues, which needed to be addressed. Having addressed the issues raised, members of NTGS where again invited for re-validation of 20 per cent of 239 communities in Yakurr from 10th to 17th December 2017.

The report noted: “During the visits some of the findings were addressed through technical support provided by the validating team. Using the SIDA (Small Immediate Doable Actions) approach, some issues identified were quickly addressed by the Water Sanitation and Hygiene Committee (WASHCom) members, who were very active and supportive throughout the field exercise. This was seen as a positive participation of the members, which has led to the success of the CLTS programme in Yakurr LGA.

“The team confirmed that the people of Yakurr are aware of the dangers of open defecation, the Chiefs and Village Heads have all bought into the programme thereby contributing to the success of the programme. Interactions with the village heads showed their level of awareness and commitment in ensuring that their environment was totally free from open defecation.

As was observed, there were more toilets constructed in the communities, some communities have in place communal toilets or public toilets to cater for those without due to lack of land space. There are task force groups that ensure that the people comply and do not relapse.

“However, the clustered nature of the people made the households to live closely together leaving them with very little space for toilet construction, most households within a compound could not own individual toilets. There were a lot of shared facilities, which implied that the toilets would fill up quickly because of the population using the facility. There is therefore the need to begin to address such issues, which could lead to relapse such as availability of evacuation vans.

“The WASHCom members need to be encouraged through regular WASH clinics to ensure continuous monitoring of the programme. It is important to note that most of the communities have the prospects of achieving total sanitation in the near future.

“At the end of the exercise there were de-briefing sessions at the LGA and also at RUWASSA office in Calabar with 100 per cent ODF re-validated 48 communities across 12 Wards.”

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