Nath Gbaoron, Lafia
The National Orientation Agency (NOA) has sensitised residents from across the 13 Local Government Areas of Nasarawa State against defecating in open places to avoid polluting the environment and spreading of diseases.
Speaking at a One-day sensitisation programme on “Open Defecation-Free Nigeria” in Lafia the Director General of the NOA, Garba Abari, said the impact of the unwholesome practice had caused various diseases including diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, among others for residents of the state.
He lamented that open defecation was widely responsible for the high number of deaths of children under the age of five, and poverty occasioned by the high spending on treatment of the diseases it spreads.
He said, “I am most delighted to be here (Nasarawa State) today for our continuous nationwide sensitisation campaign aimed at achieving Open Defecation Free Nigeria by year 2025.
“The issue of Open Defecation all over the world has assumed a very disturbing proportion because of its implications on public health. Open defecation is a condition where human feaces are disposed of in fields, forests, open bodies of water, beaches, gutters and other open spaces.
“This Nationwide sensitisation campaign is aimed at achieving behavioral change while improving and ensuring access to good water, sanitation and hygiene practices as a way to achieving the goal of making Nigeria Open Defecation free by 2025.”
Also speaking, Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, who was represented by the National Coordinator, Clean Nigeria Campaign, Chizoma Opara, said the negative implications of open defecation on Nigeria’s development were enormous, and appealed to all residents of Nasarawa State to embrace the attitude of using toilets instead of going to the bushes and other open places to defecate.
“Nigeria loses about ₦455 Billion of its GDP annually to poor access to sanitation. Nigeria is the second country after India with the most child deaths due to diarrhea. There are about 102,000 under 5 child deaths which occur each year. So, the issue of open defecation should be taken very seriously so that we can tackle these challenges,” he added.
Earlier, Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, while declaring the workshop open, expressed gratitude to the management and staff of the NOA and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for their efforts towards ensuring that open defecation is eradicated in the country.
Sule, who was represented by the State Commissioner for Agriculture and Water Resources, Nuhu Oshafu, urged the participants to fully participate and actively contribute to the discussions in order to have the required knowledge to proffer a lasting solution to the unwholesome practice in the state.
Earlier in her welcome address, the state Director of NOA Dr. Mrs Priscilla Gondo while appreciating the Nasarawa state government for her support to the agency also urged residents to take the campaign seriously.
Those in attendance during the program were the first class traditional rulers, LG chairmen, Development Areas Overseers, members of Federal and State Agencies, Civil Society Organizations, religious leaders, students among others.