1.6m people practice open defecation in Ebonyi, expert says

1.6m people practice open defecation in Ebonyi, expert says

An environmentalist, Dr Kelechi Okezie, says that no fewer than 1.6 million people in Ebonyi still practice open defecation, in spite of the global fight against the unhealthy phenomenon.

Okezie, who is the Executive Director of Neighbourhood Environment Watch Foundation, a pro-environmental non-governmental organisation, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abakaliki on Wednesday.

He said that the figure represented 54 per cent of the population of Ebonyi without access to good toilet (water system) facilities.

He said the figure was contained in the Sanitation and Water Access factsheet of Ebonyi, released by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and UNICEF.

The reports listed Ebonyi as toping the ladder of states with worst case of open defecation in the South-Eastern states with close to 60 per cent.

Okezie, who is also the National Secretary, Society for Water and Sanitation in Nigeria, further said that only about 11 per cent of the population had access to basic sanitation.

He said that only about five per cent of the population had handwashing facilities with soap and running water on their premises.

According to him, the poor and worrisome statistics of the sanitation profile of the state negate the urban renewal and transformation strides of Gov. Dave Umahi.

He said that the deplorable and unwholesome sanitation spelt doom for the state.

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He feared that the sad development would hinder the chances of Ebonyi achieving the millennium Social Development Goal (SDG) programme of ending open defecation by 2025.

Okezie opined that there was need for a radical approach by the state government and other critical stakeholders to change the ugly narrative in the state.

He said: “There is need for radical approach and turn around by the state government and the people in this regard.

“The people need behavioural change and the state government should enforce strict penalties against persons who go to the bush to defecate.

“There should be serious sanctions for homes without adequate latrines and wash hand points.

“We must realise that a gram of shit contains over 10 million viruses, bacteria and parasites, which affect the health and wellbeing of the citizens.

“We should recall the several spells of cholera in the state, resulting from contaminated water and food from faeces exposed to flies and rain.

“Government should seek ways to work with UNICEF and civil society organisations working on water, sanitation and hygiene, such as NEWSAN and other key stakeholders, to change this trend.”

Okezie charged the state government’s inter-ministrial committee to work hard to address the narrative of poor sanitation in Ebonyi in order to end open defecation in the state.

“The state government recently declared emergency in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector and set up the inter-ministerial committee to drive safe water and sanitation in the state.

“The Committee needs to be active and working, if the state is to end open defecation by 2025,” he further said.


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