The Federal Government has indicated interest to adopt the Clean India Strategy to lead campaigns to end open defecation practice in the country.
The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, made this known at the ongoing Media Water Sector Workshop in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said that the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, had launched the strategy, also known as the Swachh Bharat Mission on Oct. 2, 2014 to accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage.
According to him, the study tour, which the ministry and its partners recently underwent in India, saw the need for Nigeria to adopt the model, calling for all hands to be on deck to stop open defecation practice.
“We are not particularly impressed with open defecation in the country, we launched the Open Defecation-Free campaign roadmap in 2016 and by 2017, we had the first local government that is totally open defecation free.
“And that time, I said one out of 774 local governments is scandalous.
“But what I also appreciate is that there are thousands of communities that are open defecation-free, and since that time, we now have about 10, and our target is to end open defecation by 2025.
“And if we are going at this rate, that in two years, we have been able to do only 10 local governments, then I think there is a problem, and that is why we have decided to borrow the model of India.”
He said that Nigeria has just 47 million people practicing open defecation, but India had 500 million people, adding that within four years, it has been able to bring about 500 million out of poor sanitation.
He said that the campaign would be done aggressively, and called for the support of all Nigerians to reduce the menace.
He said that these alarming statistics led President Muhammadu Buhari on Nov. 8, 2018 to declare a state of emergency in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in a bid to galvanise action and investment.
“Approximately 47 million Nigerians, 25 per cent of the population practice open defecation.
“At the national level, open defecation rates remained relatively stable, with a 1 percentage point increase during this 25-year period.
“However, open defecation more than doubled in urban areas, from seven per cent in 1990 to 15 per cent in 2015,’’ he said.
Adamu said that the role of state governments in ending open defecation practice “cannot be overemphasised’’, adding states ought to buy into the idea by making sure that they create budget lines and programmes for sanitation scale-up.
The minister said that part of the campaign would focus on behavioural change communication and campaigns, adding that the “media has a huge role to play’’.
The National Task Group on Sanitation had announced plans to name the Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari and spouses of governors to take the lead in campaigning to end open defecation practice in the country.
The Chairman of the group, Mr Emmanuel Awe, noted that this was part of efforts and action plan to make Nigeria Open Defecation-free by 2025.
He said that the Federal Government had shown commitment by inaugurating the plan as a deliberate way to gather collaboration from all stakeholders to redeem the image of the country in comity of nations.
“We have made efforts for the First Lady and wives of governors to be champions of open defecation free and ambassadors, we know they are influencers in their own way, taking the lead is important.
”We cannot fold our hands and watch India overtake us as the leading country with the highest number of open defecators.”
According to him, the Federal Government alone cannot do it alone, hence the need for multi-sectoral collaboration to change the narratives.