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FG Moves to End Open Defecation by 2025, Inaugurates Steering Committee to Tackle Cholera

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The Federal Government has commenced measures to combat the rapid spread of Cholera disease across the country by tackling the root causes, including open defecation.

This is part of efforts aimed to curb the epidemic, reduce the high morbidity and mortality, across the country

The Vice President Kashim Shettima also emphasised the commitment of the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to end open defecation by 2025.

The Vice President spoke on Thursday when he inaugurated the Steering Committee for the “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” Campaign, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said that ending open defecation can be achieved by mobilising strategic stakeholders and leveraging technology as well as deploying innovative and sustainable solutions to boost the nation’s sanitation landscape.

Senator Shettima, who underscored the significance of hygiene, health, and its impact on development and wealth, urged the committee to “align with broader government priorities and interventions in areas such as poverty reduction, education, and economic growth.”

The VP said the recently reported cases of cholera in the country should serve as sufficient motivation for the committee to work harder, just as he directed members of the committee to “craft solutions to handle wastewater management, contaminated water sources, and open defecation” across the country.

VP Shettima also expressed confidence that members of the team “will commit to research-driven approaches in our bids to deliver on our promise to make the nation clean.

He stressed that the goals and aspirations of the country could be best achieved by harnessing the resources available in the public and private sectors, especially by carrying out innovative research.

Aside from its core mandate, the Vice President tasked the committee to be vigilant in its assignment, especially “as we develop solutions to the devastations of climate change, urbanization, and population growth”, noting that “we have become ambassadors of a cause that seeks to restore the health and dignity of our people”.

The meeting which is the fifth since the flag-off of the Clean Nigeria Campaign in 2019 provides a forum to review the progress achieved so far in the country.

Earlier, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, recalled that in the bid to tackle the Cholera epidemic, which he said is ravaging the country in 33 states, with 2,000 cases and 33 deaths, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), at its last meeting, also commissioned a cabinet committee to deal with the issue.

Presenting the report on ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet Campaign’, the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Terlumun Utsev, said the report covers both challenges and successes since its establishment in 2016 and was inaugurated and signed into law in 2019.

According to him, the campaign is a transformative initiative to eradicate open defecation in Nigeria in the year 2025, noting that the campaign was aimed at getting all stakeholders to join and tackle open defecation which currently ranked Nigeria as the second (2) largest country that practices open defecation in the world, next to India.

He said the 2018 Water and Sanitation Hygiene national outcome revealed that approximately 47 million Nigerians, constituting 23% of the population, engaged in open defecation.

The Minister highlighted the objectives of the campaign to include a nationwide campaign, mobilizing support and resources at both the national and sub-national levels to fight the menace and creating a pool of resource persons and spoke actors in mobilizing the people in all strata of the society to imbibe in the culture and self-sanitation, as well as setting the mechanism for tracking progress, sharing knowledge and lessons.

In the report, the Minister warned that open defecation has its own economic, social, and health impact on the national outlook of the country, noting that in 2016 a road map was made by the previous administration and an investment of about N959 billion would be required.

The Minister solicited the support of the Ministries of Finance and Justice for the success of the campaign.

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