By CrossRiverWatch Admin
Yakurr local government area of central Cross River State has been declared open defecation free (ODF).
This makes it the third local government area to attain that status after Obanliku and Abi local government areas attained a similar feat.
Cross River is one of the states implementing the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) supported sanitation implementation program and the Commissioner for water resources, Mr. Gabriel Odu-Oji who declared Yakurr ODF on Tuesday said it was a significant milestone in improving the sanitation of the area.
“Prior to the intervention of UNICEF, access to good sanitation by residents of rural areas in the state stood at 15% while that of urban centres was at 25% this implies that more than 80% of people in the state defecated in the open turning surrounding bushes, drainages, rivers and road sides to defecation points which constitutes health risks to them,” Mr. Odu-Oji said.
He averred that the program which began in 2013 saw residents adopt the community led total sanitation which led to the construction of 2,500 latrines while hundreds of thousands were provided access to clean and safe defecation points.
“Since 2013, Yakurr Local Government Area has demonstrated a very high level of commitment and their performance has been outstanding these efforts have been commended by sanitation stakeholders in the form of awards which is quite commendable,” Odu-Oji said.
Nigeria is said to be among countries with the highest number of people defecating in the open and the Permanent Secretary in the federal ministry of water resources, Dr. Ibrahim Musa posited that this poses a health challenge to the people.
He averred that: “It is estimated that 46 million inhabitants and 71% of the population of Nigeria are reported to be without access to improved sanitation facilities and this poses a big challenge to women, girls, children and those in vulnerable conditions.”
He maintained that the efforts geared towards the implementation of the Community Led Total Sanitation initiative was a global best practice and will help stem the tide of poor sanitation facilities which poses a big threat to the economy and health of the people.
“The Ministry is proposing to set up a national fund to take off by middle of this year which interested states can access to improve their sanitation institutions and infrastructure,” Musa said and disclosed that plans are on ground to have a national launch for a sanitation fund in the country which will go a long way in providing funding and assistance to states and local government to improve their sanitation.
It will be recalled that Cross River and Benue states got NGN800 million grant for sanitation purposes.
However, due to political reasons, the state is losing almost NGN2 billion in grants for water and sanitation.
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