Large scale implementation of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is key to ending open defecation and other unsafe sanitation practices in Nigerian rural communities.
This is the view of a three man panel that featured on a live Television programme aired by the Ekiti State Broadcasting Television, yesterday.
The consensus of the panellists comprising: Revd. Father Raphael Aborishade-State Director, Justice Development and Peace Commission/WaterAid in Nigeria, Ekiti State; Babatope Babalobi –National Chairman, Water and Sanitation Media Network; and Wale Ajibade-Chairman, Water and Sanitation Media Network, Ekiti State Chapter; was that the sanitation target of the Millennium Development Goals could be achieved in rural areas if all stakeholders take immediate and urgent actions to launch massive campaigns for the introduction CLTS in rural communities in Nigeria.
CLTS is a globally accepted approach for igniting sanitation behaviour through collective local action. It is a process of social awakening that helps people decide together to create a clean and hygienic environment that benefits everyone through a change of behaviour that includes stopping all open defecation; ensuring that everyone uses a hygiene toilet; washing hands with soap before preparing food and eating, after using the toilet, and after contact with babies faeces; handling food and water in a hygienic manner; and safe disposal of animal and domestic waste.
Answering a question on experiences in introduction of CLTS in Nigeria, Revd. Father Raphael Aborishade said the introduction of CLTS in three local Governments in Ekiti state by WaterAid in Nigeria “has led to the improvement of sanitation in the state, but this needs to be up scaled to meet state, national, and international goals”.
Aborishade therefore called for “increased funding for existing projects and for introduction of the CLTS process to more communities” in expand adequate sanitation to all parts of the state”
Quoting statistics supplied by the WHO/UNICEF JMP Joint Monitoring Programme, Babalobi in his contribution said “Nigeria is in the bottom 25 countries worldwide in terms of water and sanitation coverage; and the country like several other sub Saharan African countries is not on track to reach the MDG targets of 75% coverage for improved drinking water and 63% coverage for improved sanitation by the year 2015”. He therefore advocated for WASH policy development, Institutional strengthening, effective sectoral coordination, manpower capacity building, and adequate funding to increase sanitation coverage in the state”.
Sanitation coverage for Ekiti state presently stands at 36%, and behavioural change towards better sanitation practices and increased prioritisation of the sector, are key to increasing improved sanitation coverage in Ekiti state, said Babalobi
Reviewing the Global Forum on Sanitation and Hygiene held in Mumbai, India, which he participated, Wale Ajibade, participated in the Global Forum on Sanitation and Hygiene, said the event was focussed on finding solutions to sanitation problems faced in Asia and Sub Saharan, saying an ‘estimated 2.6 billion people in the world do not have access to safe sanitation services, and half of this figure are Indians and the other half are resident in Sub Saharan African countries’.
The specific outcome of the forum, according to Ajibade was that participants learnt from best practices and were greater inspired and motivated to find solutions to peculiar problems in their localities.
At the end of the programme the panellists and views that participated through text messages canvassed the following measures to ensure sustainable sanitation in Ekiti state and Nigeria :
- Government should involve the people in the process of designing and implementation of sanitation programmes.
- Funds should be allocated to sanitation sector in the budgets of state and local governments
- Communities should be educated on the effects of unsafe and unhygienic practices including open defecation.
- Government officials should strictly enforce regulations on household waste water management.
- The principles of Equity and Inclusion should be implemented across the country to allow disabled citizens physically access sanitation facilities such as toilets. In the opinion of the panellists that presently, most toilet facilities are not accessible by the estimated 20m disabled Nigeria.
- School based WASH programmes including hand washing with soap and menstrual hygiene management should be introduced in the state.
- Government agencies should ensure all schools construct gender sensitive toilets as a matter policy.