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Delta set to end open defecation next year

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Delta State government has reiterated its determination to end open defecation next year, as the United Nations (UN) has put a deadline for open defecation-free world on 2030.

However, experts have warned that the country’s health challenges were being aggravated by the unhygienic practice of open defecation.

This Commissioner for Water Resources, Martin Okonta, disclosed this at the inter-ministerial Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) steering committee meeting in Asaba, the state capital.

Okonta frowned on the worrisome indices that place Nigeria in the second position on the global table of countries with open defecation, having moved recently from the fifth place.

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“The UN has put a deadline for open defecation-free world on 2030, hence the need for states to take decisive steps towards beating this deadline.

“These are part of the reasons Governor Ifeanyi Okowa declared a state of emergency in the WASH sector and set up a steering committee to bring out an action plan to end open defecation in the state.

“The committee, chaired by the governor, has the commissioners for Water Resources, Finance, Women Affairs, Basic and Secondary Education, Environment and Agriculture as members,” he noted.

According to him, in view of the challenge of open defecation facing the state, there is need to come up with action plan for the way forward to ensure that Nigeria exits open defecation before 2023.

Stressing the need for the committee to join hands to eradicate the scourge in the state, he noted that Delta was one of the prevalence states with open defecation.

He also said, “To end the scourge of open defecation, there is need for advocacies to all stakeholders. We need to develop slogans as we approach market women, traditional rulers, students among others for more advocacies,” harping on the need to harmonise policies on sanitation and hygiene.

Speaking on power supply to water schemes across the state, Okonta said, “Water production and distribution are dependent on electricity, and there is need for more commitment from the Ministry of Energy to improve on electricity supply to all water schemes/treatment plants in the state.”

This, he said, would help to increase access to potable water supply to the people of the state, while announcing that the state government had approved two treatment plants in Asaba and Ughelli, which had been completed and would be inaugurated soon.

In his remarks, the representative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Delta State E-WASH Team Leader, Mark Adeyemi-Adedayo, said, “USAID, which came into Delta a year ago, would ensure that Deltans have access to potable water and safe sanitation by 2030. By then, we should be able to supply treated water to about four million people in Delta.”

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