The Federal Government has introduced a comprehensive sanitation marketing strategy to tackle open defecation in the country.
The strategy was unveiled at an event commemorating the 2023 World Toilet Day under the theme ‘Accelerating Change,’ which was held on Tuesday in Abuja.
Speaking at the event, Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, underscored the importance of collaborative efforts and collective ownership among stakeholders to expedite processes aimed at fostering a cleaner and healthier environment.
He emphasised the ministry’s dedication to maximising the social and economic impact within the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene sector.
Utsev also spoke on the development of a National WASH Policy and a dedicated National Sanitation Marketing Strategy designed to promote the supply side of the sanitation market.
The minister disclosed plans to identify bankable sanitation projects with multifaceted returns to attract investments coupled with ongoing efforts to create innovative financial instruments.
According to the minister, the measures will mitigate risks for private investment in the sanitation sub-sector.
Utsev reiterated the government’s commitment to improving access to sanitation services, recognising its impact on the standard of living and overall quality of life for citizens.
Addressing sanitation as a critical public health concern, he shared insights from a 2012 World Bank report, revealing the staggering economic impact of inadequate sanitation practices, amounting to an estimated N455 billion in annual losses for Nigeria.
The minister emphasised the immeasurable social costs associated with poor sanitation, including the loss of dignity, privacy, and an increased vulnerability to physical attacks and violence, particularly affecting women and girls.
“The comprehensive approach not only addresses the economic ramifications, but also underscores the broader social and public health imperative for a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous Nigeria,’’ he said
Earlier, UNICEF Chief of WASH, Dr Jane Bevan, emphasied the imperative for urgent action in addressing sanitation challenges in Nigeria.
Bevan commended the collaborative efforts and collective ownership demonstrated by both ministries as such commitment was crucial for Nigeria to achieve its sanitation goals.
She said it was of critical importance to prioritise access to affordable household toilets, envisioning that partnerships with private sector entrepreneurs could transform this vision into a reality.
On her part, WASH Specialist, UNICEF Nigeria, Chisom Adimorah, said that renewed political attention and social movement was needed for safely managed sanitation with state governments in the lead.
She said it should be backed by sufficient investments and smart sanitation finance packages, strong microlevel and risk-informed plans and strategies, and collaboration among key sectors and partners.
“There is a need to explore structured engagements with the private sector with the appropriate enabling environment and business models to invest in the Sanitation sector.
“Private sector must work closely with the government, states and local authorities and communities to actively create sustainable solutions to address the sanitation needs of unserved and underserved communities,’’ she said.
In a panel session led by Dr Bilkisu Dosah from the National Water Resource Institute, the participants discussed how Nigeria could sustain progress made in sanitation services through behaviour change communication and advocacy.
The panelists spoke on the need for a mind shift on waste management, regulation and strengthening the activities of environmental health officers.
Awards were presented to FGC Rubochi and FGC Kwali who both came first in the sanitary inspection for FCT unity schools.