From Damian Duruiheoma, Owerri
The Anambra-Imo River Basin Development Authority in Owerri, Imo State capital, has stressed the need for collaborative efforts of south eastern states residents governments to end open defecation in the region.
Its Executive Director of Planning and Design, Dr. Ben Aneke, made the call in Owerri during the advocacy meeting with a coalition of Civil Society Organisations in Imo State. The coalition was led by Christian Fellowship and Care Foundation.
The meeting, The Nation learned, was part of the organisation’s #ClaimYourWaterRights campaign in preparation for the 2020 Water Action Month annual campaign.
According to Aneke, the states’ ministries of water resources, education, health, agriculture and environment, ought to be involved in the Clean-Nigeria-End-Open-Defecation Campaign.
Why expressing happiness with the zest with which the CSOs in Imo State were sensitising rural communities, he called on individuals and groups to join hands to end open defecation.
He recalled that in the past, sanitary inspectors were responsible for clean environment in rural areas and called on the states in the south east to reintroduce it.
“We’re therefore, calling for a return of sanitary inspectors in various communities and local government areas in Southeast.
“There is need to reintroduce these inspectors. We want to call on the state governments in Southeast to reintroduce it so that people will begin again to have clean environments,” he said.
Aneke disclosed that the authority had concluded plans to reach out to about 95 local government areas in southeast and traditional rulers for the advocacy and sensitisation campaigns.
He said: “There is an ongoing campaign by the honourable minister to end open defecation even in market places. There should be toilets in markets with running water so that the place will not be messed up.
“We’re also saying that toilets and water should be provided in schools to discourage open defecation because many schools don’t have toilets and their pupils go into the bushes to defecate.
“The implication of the open defecation is that the mess is washed down into the streams while flies or insects perch on them and return same to our fruits and foods.”
The team leader of the coalition and the campaign manager of Christian Fellowship and Care Foundation, Clinton Ezeigwe, said the visit was to follow up on the government’s commitments on WASH and how the CSOs were aligning their actions to contribute to the national goals.
“It is our strong believe that joint actions by all stakeholders can push the water, sanitation and hygiene sector forward,” he said.
He further noted that “with 10 years to achieve universal access to water and sanitation (SDG 6), there’s no time for false promises. We need urgent financing and delivery of services”.
Author: Gabriel Ogunjobi