By Ann Ngbea
About 2.9 million people in Benue State defecate in the open. The United Nation’s Children Education Fund (UNICEF) disclosed this in a recent research and observed that the trend is gradually diminishing as more communities are becoming open defecation free.
However, this is gradually diminishing as more LGAs are becoming Open Defecation Free.
This entails that more than half of the Benue populace still practice open defecation. Therefore, the alarming public health threat was recently declared as a menace in the state by the state governor recently in Makurdi during a launch and flag off of the “clean Benue: Use the Toilet campaign.
So far, Benue State is the first in the entire North Central Nigeria to achieve LGA wide Open defecation free status.
Recently, Agatu Local Government of Benue State with a total number 270 communities covering a total number of 15, 6000 people has been officially declared Open Defecation Free (ODF)
This action clearly shows that every house and institution in Agatu Local Government Area do not practices and cleared their environment constructed basic or modified toilets.
This great achievement was pronounced at a meeting held by the National Task Group on Sanitation (NTGS) in Abuja recently after a team of validators made presentation of a one week validation exercise to the communities in Agatu where they applied the Open Defecation Free (ODF) protocol to validate the work of RUSHPIN programmes together with its state and local government partners.
Agatu Local government now has made up a total number of 4 local government areas in Benue State and the 5th on the RUSHPIN Programme to be declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) status in the state.
Recently it was confirmed by the (NTGS) that Nigeria now has 20 LGAs Nationally recognized as Open Defecation Free (ODF)
This also shows that, Nigeria is fast climbing the sanitation ladder towards becoming one of the countries with nation open defecation free status like India. Open defecation is a menace and a threat to public health in the country caused by poor sanitation and indiscrimate exposure of faces.
Open defecation increases the risk of diseases when files and other arthropods mechanically transport diarrhea causing pathogens to eat ables in our compounds, shops restaurants and fast food vendors, causing serious communicable diseases particalurlly in children. The cost of open defecation can not be overlooked.
According to a recent research by the united purpose one of the donor agencies in charge of combating open defcation in Nigeria, about 1.3% (455 billon) of Nigerias GSP are lost annually to poor sanitation as a result of illnesses. This also causes low productivity, loss of learning opportunities especially in children.
Open defecation has gone a long way to pull down the health impact of the people.
According to (UP) more than 100,000 children under five year die each year due to diarrhea of which 90% is directly attributable to unsafe water and good hyginene
Nigeria is said to be the second country with the highest children’s death due to frequent out break of diarrhea and other water, sanitation, and Hygiene illnesses.
It has also affected frequent out break of WADH related diseases causes absence from school or work as affected people take time to recover. Some to take care of sick relatives, including poor education outcome which reduces school enrollment and attendance due to time lost to recovery.
According to a recent research, by United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF).As a means to put an end to open defecation in the state, the Governor Ortom had on December 10th, 2019 declared a state of emergency on WASH.
He also launched “Clean Benue” use the toilet campaign and emphasized Water Supply Sanitation and Hygiene Services.
Governor Ortom stressed that Water Supply and Hygiene have multiple effects on health, education, environment, productivity and poverty reduction, as well as economic development and would reduce the high prevalence of water borne diseases in the state if well managed.
While inaugurating the inter-ministerial steering committee on Benue State Action plan for the Revitalization of Water Supply Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector.
The governor urged dissemination of the message to the door steps of Local Government Areas, communities and villages in the state.
The aim was to achieve a cleaner, healthier Benue, pledging that his administration will continue to place priority on WASH services towards ensuring a better life for the Benue people.
He further charged people of the state to join the crusade against Open Defecation saying that everybody is a stakeholder.