The Lagos State Government, over the weekend, called on residents to promote healthy sanitation practices as the State continues to implement improvement initiatives and increase the stock of available toilets.
The Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, made the call while addressing participants at the Y2021 World Toilet Day celebration in Alausa, maintaining that Lagos is setting the pace for others to emulate.
He said that the State has constructed 345 public toilets in strategic locations across the metropolis, while 615 privately-owned toilets operators have also been registered, noting that the feats were the result of a resilient strategy developed as a documented commitment to improving the quality of life of Lagos residents.
“The initiative provides for design and construction of public toilets in vulnerable communities of each Local Government and Local Council Development Areas, whilst also creating an enabling environment for private sector participation under a fee-paying management system”, he emphasised.
The Commissioner, represented by the Special Adviser on Drainage and Water Resources, Engr. Joe Igbokwe, added that the celebration brings to the fore, issues aimed at drawing attention and seeking inclusive response in tackling sanitation challenges and the menace of open defecation in the country.
Speaking on the theme for this year’s event: “Valuing Toilet”, the Commissioner said all stakeholders must prioritise sanitation and hygiene as these acts represent the cheapest and easiest method of combating the spread of diseases and controlling other environmental crises.
“It is important to note that Nigeria presently occupies the topmost level in the ladder of open defecation and that each State in the country is expected to domesticate the Federal Government declaration toward achieving Open Defecation Free Status by 2025”, he said.
Earlier, Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Mrs. Belinda Odeneye, said that the State Government has taken the lead role in public awareness and education campaigns on Handwashing, Sanitation and Hygienic standards as well as tackling the menace of open defecation.
She added that the State, in collaboration with her partners, has empowered a broad range of stakeholders and promoted an environment-friendly approach to addressing the open defecation challenge.
The Permanent Secretary, represented by Director, Ecology and Conservation, Mr. Sheriff Savage, noted that the State officially flagged off the “Clean Nigeria: Use The Toilet Campaign”, and inaugurated an anti-open Defecation Squad last year.
She explained that the initiative is to instil behavioural change towards the use of toilets and maintaining safe sanitation, adding that the campaign was launched with an action plan to domesticate the campaign in each of the 20 LGs and 37 LCDAs.
Mrs. Odeneye, however, assured that as a responsive Government with a plan for Innovation, Inclusiveness and Efficiency, the State will enhance its plans and strategies to promote sanitation and hygiene.
Senior Brand Manager, Hygiene West Africa, Chioma Sylva-Ifedigbo said the theme for Y2021 is aimed at drawing attention to the fact that toilets and the sanitation system that support them are underfunded, poorly managed or neglected in many parts of the world.
Commending the leadership of the State Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources for its efforts to end open defecation within the State, Sylva-Ifedigbo averred that through the Harpic Brand, Nigerians have access to hygienic toilets and the firm has been effectively communicating and educating people on the importance of toilet hygiene and sanitation to drive behavioural change.