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Shettima inaugurates committee to end open defecation, address root causes of cholera

The federal government has inaugurated a committee to address open defecation following the recent outbreak of cholera in some parts of the country.

Vice-President Kashim Shettima inaugurated the “Clean Nigeria: Use the toilet” campaign committee on Thursday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) said cholera killed 30 people across the country in June.

Speaking during the inauguration, Shettima said the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is determined to end open defecation by 2025.

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The vice-president said stakeholders’ mobilisation and the use of technology are crucial in tackling the root causes of cholera in the country.

He listed open defecation, wastewater management, and contaminated water sources as some of the major causes of cholera.

He asked the committee to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to enhance sanitation in the country.

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Shettima urged the committee to “align with broader government priorities and interventions in areas such as poverty reduction, education, and economic growth”.

“Craft solutions to handle wastewater management, contaminated water sources, and open defecation across the country,” he said.

“We are well aware that achieving this objective begins with our collective resolve to embrace behavioural change and cultivate a lifestyle that prioritizes proper sanitation practices, hygiene education, and community engagement.”

The vice-president said he is confident that the committee “will commit to research-driven approaches in our bids to deliver on our promise to make the nation clean”.

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“The public sector cannot succeed in this campaign unless we engage and encourage private sector participation and invite innovative and sustainable solutions,” he said.

“We must partner by utilizing technology for real-time monitoring, data collection, and impact assessment while recognizing the role of youth and women in driving change.

“We have become ambassadors of a cause that seeks to restore the health and dignity of our people,” he added.

On his part, Muhammad Ali, minister of health and social welfare, said cholera has spread through 33 states, with 2,000 cases and 33 deaths.

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Ali said Nigeria is ranked as the second-largest country that practices open defecation in the world.

He said 47 million Nigerians, constituting 23 percent of the population, engaged in open defecation according to the 2018 Water and Sanitation Hygiene national outcome.

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He said a road map was made in 2016 by the previous administration, adding that an investment of about N959 billion would be required.

“The idea was that money would be used in the construction of toilets in both the households and national levels. 25,000 toilets would be constructed at the rural level and 50,000 toilets would be constructed at the urban level, but as of today, things have changed and a review was needed,” the minister said.

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“With that, there was an approval of N10.4 billion to be given annually for the implementation of the exercise, and we, 48 million people, have changed their behaviour and 9.4 million toilets were to be built across the 33 states and the FCT with this estimation.”

 

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