Ondo State Government has reiterated its commitment to put an end to open defecation in all parts of the State, saying that access to good sanitation, provision of safe potable water and toilet facilities, are keys to achieving the goal.
The State Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, who is also the Chairman, Committee on Open Defecation Free (ODF) in the State, Pastor Emmanuel Igbasan said with thorough sensitisation and enforcement the state would attain the Year 2023 target on open defecation-free road map.
Igbasan made this known during a consultative meeting with Traditional Rulers, High Chiefs, Market Women and other stakeholders in Akure Kingdom where he described the practice of open defecation as unwholesome with a lot of negative impact on the environment, public health, human dignity and personal safety especially for women and children.
According to the Commissioner, available records show that Nigeria has overtaken India as the first in the practice of open defecation in the world with about 47 million Nigerians involved in the practice, and 1.4 million people practicing it in Ondo State.
He explained that it was also estimated that the country looses about 455billion naira annually due to poor hygiene services which according to him increases spending on health and reduce human capacity.
The Commissioner hinted that it was on this premise that the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN inaugurated the Committee about four months ago to ensure that people living in the State have access to functional and hygienic toilet.
He added that there is the need for reorientation of the people against the practice of open defecation which he said would no longer be permissible, saying that appropriate laws would be enacted for effective implementation and enforcement of the law across the State.
The Commissioner, who stated that about Five Hundred and Eleven Thousand toilets are needed in private residence while about One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty Six toilets would be required in public places such as Schools, Motor Parks, Hospitals across the State, assured that government would perform its responsibility by providing toilets in public places.
He called on owners of private houses to provide toilet facilities in their residence.
He further explained that government would make the programme a community led project in such a way that people would take the lead in their different domains, communities, families and other areas of influence.
He therefore called on the people to cooperate with the government and take responsibilities of sensitizing their various communities on need to have a good toilet in their respective houses and make it known to them the adverse effects of open defecation to their health and environment.
In his presentation, Water Sanitation and Hygiene Consultant, UNICEF, Ondo Field Office, Dr. Bisi Orebiyi, said one out of four people in Ondo State practices open defecation.
He called on the community leaders to assist the government by educating their subjects on the dangers of open defecation to the populace.
Also speaking, the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Adelusi said people need not to be told to have a functional toilet in this modern day, expecially in the State Capital where you hardly find refuse dump site unlike in the olden days.
Oba Aladetoyinbo therefore, called on all other traditional rulers in Akure Community to inform their subjects on the need to have a functional toilets in their respective homes.
He, therefore commended the government for taking bold steps to stamp out open defecation in the state and promised the cooperation of the people in the kingdom
Other Tradition Rulers and Market Women who spoke at the forum highlighted various steps that should be taken towards attaining open defecation free Ondo State which they enumerated to include sensitisation of the people towards having attitudinal change; provision of public toilets at strategic places, availability of water, continuity in government policies and programs, proper enforcement of the program, evacuation and clearing of all dump sites among others.