Man is by its very nature a biological organism subject to all the processes of living thing. By logical correlates, nutrition begets excretion which is unavoidable.
Since excretion is inevitable, it has taken several forms in all the various stages of human civilizations.
From excreting in the bush to pit latrine and now to the modern water closet system – a modern toilet technology.
However, in a reversal that is worse than the primitive era, people, now excrete in the open – a phenomenon called open defecation.
And there are speculations that that Nigeria will soon overtake both India and Bangladesh and become number one in the world in practicing open defecation.
India plagued with open defecation and in like Nigeria and to free herself from this conundrum, India lunched the Swachh Bharat mission which lasted from 2014 to 2019 and its major objective was to eliminate open defecation by constructing both household-owned and community-owned toilets and creating a framework where toilet-usage will be constantly monitored. Swachh Bharat mission simply means neat and tidy India mission.
With this initiative, the country planned to build 100 million toilets by October 2, 2019 and to become open defecation free and this will in turn enable India to meeting up with the sustainable Development Goal 6.
The mission is based on two premises: the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, which is for the rural areas, operates under the Ministry of Drinking water and Sanitiation and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan takes care of the urban areas and it operates under the Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs.
This mission also have volunteers who are known as Swachhagraphis which means ambassadors of cleanliness and they have helped in promoting community cleanliness at the village level and three million government employees and students from all parts of India are participating in this initiative.
Like India, Nigeria is also disturbed with open defecation and according to the 2018 WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH NORM) survey done by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund, one in four Nigerians representing 47 million citizens — still practise open defecation and out of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria, only 13 do not practise open defecation representing barely 2 percent of all the LGAs.
To add “salt to injury”, according to a World Bank report, Nigeria loses 1.3 percent of its gross domestic product amounting to about N455 billion to poor sanitation every year and open defecation alone cost Nigeria US$ 1 billion annually.
And more than 100,000 children under the age of five die every year due to diarrhea; of which 90 percent is directly attributed to unsafe water.
The dangers or risks which open defecation poses can’t be over emphasize and that is why the Clean Nigeria Campaign was launched by the federal government after President Buhari declared a state of emergency on Nigeria’s water supply, sanitation and hygiene and its aim is to make Nigeria open-defecation-free by 2025.
Although, the campaign to end open defecation may have been initiated but Nigeria still has a lot from India and Bangladesh. The private sector also has to come on board too. There is need to be a serious political commitment mixed with private partnership to increase the number of public toilets in the country as Zaid Jurji remarked that “there are more mobile phones in Nigeria than public toilets”.
And only until the private sector join hands with the government to nip this menace to the bud, Nigerian chance of achieving the SDG goal will remain an herculean task as the chief of WASH remarked: “The private sector can bring a wide spectrum of skills that the public sector usually lacks; innovation, efficiency, effectiveness, trust and confidence, to name a few”.
He further pointed out that Nigeria’s chances to curb open defecation rest on the collaboration for the private sector to “work closely with the government, states and local authorities and communities to actively create sustainable solutions to address the WASH needs of unserved and underserved communities through the lens of corporate social responsibility (and) public private partnerships”.
It will not be proper for man to continue to roll back the wheel of civilization as open defecation is a social anomie which negates the norms of decent living and quality of life and all hands must be on deck to check this ugly trend.