Nigeria slightly improving on hygiene, sanitation practices – Group

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By Ebere Agozie

Mr Ene Baba-Owoh, National Coordinator, Clean-Up Nigeria, a Non-Governmental Organisation(NGO), says the nation has slightly improved on its hygiene and sanitation practices.

Baba-Owoh expressed this view in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) after the State of the Nigeria environment (STONE) event tagged ‘STONE 2023 PRO-MAX’ on Wednesday in Abuja.

STONE 2023 PRO-MAX is an annual state of the Nigeria environment study report held in conjunction with some international project partners which has declared Akwa Ibom as the cleanest state in Nigeria for the sixth time.

“Since 2018 to date, we feel encouraged by the response from government at all levels and the citizenry in general for the minor but very meaningful seven percent improvements on hygiene and sanitation practices across the states within the past six years.

“We do this annually to bring sanitation and waste management issues to the front burner of the government and citizens.

“In the process we increase awareness and encourage alternative actions on personal hygiene and sanitation in order to sustain a cleaner, healthier and safer Nigeria, while improving the life expectancy of Nigerians.”

He said it was commendable that the practice of open defecation in all the 36 states of the federation and FCT had dropped from 32 per cent in 2018 to 24 per cent in 2023, but said that Nigeria still remains the world leader in open defecation to date (2023).

“Between 2018 and 2023 the dangers of open defecation have been gradually reduced and this can be attributed to the federal and state governments intensive campaigns, in addition to partnership considerations with NGO’s and the private sector nationwide.”

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Baba-Owoh said that in the last six years, there has been a six per cent improvement recorded in the procurement of waste management equipment by some governments in the country.

“However, there was a significant drop in waste management equipment as most equipment previously on ground became unserviceable.

“We equally noticed that funding by states and local government councils for waste management services has reduced drastically based on the value of the naira presently when compared to the increased services offered.

“This equally calls for serious incremental review on the part of governments at all levels to help confront the challenges of ensuring cleaner, healthier and safer environment.’’

He said that the improvement of the health of sanitation workers employed both by government and the private sector to provide waste management services fell from 46 per cent in 2018 to 31 per cent in 2023.

“The informal sector operators of waste recycling and reuse enterprises recorded lower patronage, and suffered more setbacks as their activities went down from 30 per cent in 2018 to 26 per cent in 2023.

“Incidences and prevalence of sanitation related diseases increased by 27 per cent in 2018 to 39 per cent in 2023.

“Inadequate sanitation and hygiene practices of the people in 32 states and the FCT still leave much to be desired and calls for multiple strategies by all stakeholders as our studies showed 46 per cent in 2018 and 32 per cent in 2023.

“Only four states in the country namely Lagos, Oyo, Abuja and Bauchi have sanitary landfills, while the remaining 33 states operate open dumping.

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“This development is not only alarming but calls for urgent intervention to address the upgrade.”

Baba-Owoh, therefore, called for the re-introduction of the monthly sanitation exercise and enforcement of regular clean-up of drainages with renewed energy for a healthy Nigeria.

He said the call for the re-introduction of the monthly sanitation at all levels was because the citizens had seriously neglected their roles on environmental sanitation.

“There is the need to encourage and strengthen more health and environment clubs across schools nationwide to improve and sustain the practice of hygiene and sanitation among our children.

“We equally urge Nigerians, among other things, to embrace strong personal hygiene and good sanitation habits and to dispose of their waste at the right places,” he said. (NAN)

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Edited by Chijioke Okoronkwo

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