UNICEF, EU, others laud Cross River State’s open defecation-free status
The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF) have commended Cross River State for having the highest number of Open Defecation Free (ODF) local government areas in Nigeria.They said the state deserved applause in that has six, while Bauchi has two, Benue has one and Jigawa four open defecation-free councils in the country.
EU and UNICEF stressed that experts view the feat as a great effort by the state government in keying into Federal Government’s recent launching of the Open Defecation Free campaign and the pre-wash programme in Nigeria.Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu who confirmed this rating yesterday at the official declaration of Boki Council Area as open defecation-free in Okundi Community also commended the state for the milestone and for taking advantage of ODF’s funding by UNICEF and the EU.
Adamu, who was represented by Director, Department of Water Quality Control in the ministry, Emmanuel Eze, said of the 13 councils that have been declared ODF in the country, Cross River alone has six.He noted that the benefit of access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities, especially for people living in an open defecation-free environment has a great impact on education, health, security and their socio-economic wellbeing, which was worth celebrating.
“I commend the people of Boki Council Area for the commitment towards behavioural change and encourage you to be steadfast in it, as a relapse will deny you of these inherent benefits,” he stated.He also commended UNICEF and the EU for their support towards the achievement in Boki ODF, saying, “I also appreciate the support of European Union who provided the grant through UNICEF for the implementation of the Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme (WSSSRP) II under which this achievement is recorded.”
UNICEF Chief Officer in Enugu, Ibrahim Contel, while commending the people of Boki and the state government for attaining ODF status, said, Boki has moved from the old days of unclean environment to a more sanitary environment and without safe drinking water.“Without proper sanitation, you can easily get an emergency in the case of cholera and other water borne diseases. Health environment is a clean environment.
“Among the 13 local governments in the country that have been declared ODF, Cross River has six and I also want to reflect on Governor Ben Ayade for promising to make state the first to declare every local government ODF. “But how are we going to sustain that. How are we doing to make sure we sustain Boki as an ODF?”
Contel urged the state government, especially RUWATSSA and Water Resources to continue to support and ensure that the achievement will not reverse to where it was, rather they should sustain that achievement.“This is because we still have other councils that we need to declare, so if we do not have a sustainable achievement from those that have already shown good results, then we are going back to square one and it will be a pity.
On his part, the WASH Specialist, Enugu, Doutimiye Kaikubu also commended the state government and Boki Council Area for achieving the feat and charged them to put mechanisms in place to sustain the ODF status.
Responding, Ayade congratulated the people of Boki on making the state proud for being the sixth local governments that have attained the ODF status through UNICEF and EU’s support, urged other 12 council areas to borrow a leaf from their counterpart.
Ayade, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water Resources, Dr. Fidelis Anokwa, said, “As we work gradually, we are on the sixth ladder, we still have many more ladders to cross, 12 more to cross and we urge other 12 local governments to do what Boki has been able to do today and I believe that in no distant time, we shall visit another council area to attain ODF.Speaking on behalf of the community, Paramount Ruler of Boki, HRM Ata-Otu Franklin Akadu and Boki UNICEF Consultant, Samuel Atah, acknowledged UNICEF and the EU for their patience over the years to see that Boki moved from OD to ODF.Akadu assured UNICEF and the state government that the community would maintain and sustain the ODF status in Boki.