Some traditional rulers has called on state governments to take ownership of all programmes and policies to improve sanitation and hygiene in their localities.
They made this call in Bauchi at the ongoing 6th National Roundtable on Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Conference.
They said without ownership of these programmes, little efforts would be achieved to meet hygiene promotion goals and overall disease prevention.
Chief Dominic Akpe, the Ter Gwer, Gwer East Local Government Area in Benue, said with the introduction of CLTS programme by UNICEF and other development partners, there has been a reduction in illnesses in his communities.
Akpe said the CLTS programme has afforded his people the opportunity to construct and use toilets, and pursue the overall goal of ending open defecation practice.
He urged other traditional rulers to also take ownership of hygiene promotion programmes, saying they were the closest to the people at the grassroots.
Alhaji Nuhu Abdulkadir, Hakimi of Rimi Council, Katsina state, said traditional rulers in his community had supported the people toward scaling up sanitation and hygiene practices.
He noted that there has been a significant reduction in water-borne diseases in his area.
Abdulkadir said since interventions of the hygiene promotion programmes, no fewer than 38 communities had been certified Open Defecation Free (ODF).
He restated the commitment of the local government to continue to support the poor toward attaining an open defecation free society.
Mr Sani Ayuba of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) from Gamawa Local Government Area of Bauchi, thanked the development partners for introducing the CLTS programme, saying most households now own and use their toilets.
He said that recent validation from the local government WASH officers revealed 85 per cent progress report toward attaining an ODF status.
He stressed that flies around the community has also reduced with a decrease in open defecation practice.
“In my community there is disease reduction, we now have more money for eating instead of using it to treat our sick family members.
“We now know the importance of hand washing at critical times with the use of soap or ash, the practice is among all ages.”
Halima Abubakar, a woman leader from Warji Local Government, said women in the community have been educated on the importance of hand washing and personal hygiene.
Abubakar added that the practice of Menstrual Hygiene Management was also emphasised to the women, who were educated in groups.
Mr Mannaseh Gideon, Sabongida community leader in Kachia Local Government, Kaduna State, praised the organisers of the roundtable.
He said before the coming of the CLTS triggering, the community suffered from Schistosomiasis and typhoid fever, which was the leading cause of hospitalisation.
Gideon said presently, such diseases were no longer in existence in the community with the introduction of CLTS and behavioral change to construct and use toilets.
He said farmers found defecating in the open were arrested and made to pay fines, with the overall target of ending open defecation practice.
“In my community, we now have tip taps all around, toilets have hand washing stations.
‘‘It is now a competition for everyone to build and use their toilets, doctors even call to ask why we don’t visit the hospitals anymore.”
Gideon commended the efforts of the development partners and the support they received from the traditional rulers.
The objective of the sixth National Conference on CLTS is to sensitise relevant stakeholders on progress made and what steps could be taken to improve sanitation and hygiene in the country.