Earlier this month, the people of the Ikom and Yala areas of Nigeria rolled out the drums to celebrate the achievement of Open Defecation Free (ODF) status, with the aid of United Purpose’s community-Led Health Improvement through Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria (CHISHPIN) project.
This 1.5 million project is funded by the British government and Nigeria’s Cross-River State government. It is expected to reach 774,354 people, and already Ikom and Yala are the 5th and 6th areas in Nigeria to reach Open Defecation Frees status.
This approach focuses on empowering entire communities to collectively change their sanitation and hygiene behaviour, communities end open defecation – its members use toilets and practices good hygiene.
As a result of these great achievements by the people of Ikom and Yala, about 501,500 people now live in clean and healthy environments, and all households and key public spaces have latrines and sanitation facilities. The impact of this change process is most felt by children under 5 years old – the main victims of diseases resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene practices. This achievement is recognized and validated by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.
In view of these great achievements, the people of Ikom and Yala gathered to celebrate their achievements with traditional music and dance to beats from local drums. The local committees responsible for pushing their communities through the last mile were recognized and individual communities were given an ODF certificate to commend their great efforts.
Not left out were representatives from the Federal government, State government and relevant Ministries Department and Agencies. Led by the Secretary to the State government, the state delegation had in attendance the Commissioner for Water Resources, the Director General Cross River State RUWATSSA and the State Task Group on Sanitation; while the Federal Government delegation was led by the deputy director department of water quality and control of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources with the National Task Group on Sanitation and others in attendance.
With the achievement of Ikom and Yala as ODF LGAs, United Purpose alone has achieved 5 of the 10 ODF local government areas in Nigeria. United Purpose is a leading agency in the Nigerian Sanitation sector, and was the first to have an entire local government area declared Open Defecation Free in the country. We push the boundaries of innovation and continuously improve our community-driven approach while taking it to scale.
Comments from those present include:
‘The ministry recognizes the fact that action to end open defecation in Nigeria requires the contribution and commitment of everyone; government at all levels, civil societies, private sector, development partners and the entire populace’. - Hon minister Federal Ministry of Water Resources Nigeria, represented by Engr. Emmanuel Eze Deputy Director Water Quality and Control.
‘The benefits of access to WASH facilities, especially of living in an open defecation free environment, impacts on education, health, security and socioeconomic wellbeing of the people. In this regard I wish to commend the people of Ikom LGA for the commitment towards behavioural change and to encourage you to be steadfast in it as a relapse will deny you of these inherent benefits. I also appreciate the support of UKAid the donor who provided the grant for the implementation of CHISHPIN under which this achievement has been recorded’ - Hon minister Federal Ministry of Water Resources Nigeria, represented by Engr. Emmanuel Eze Deputy Director Water Quality and Control.
‘I wish to appreciate the efforts all the institutional structures put in place to ensure ownership and integration of the process, and the implementing agency United Purpose for the great work’ - Hon minister Federal Ministry of Water Resources Nigeria, represented by Engr. Emmanuel Eze Deputy Director Water Quality and Control.
“In the course of engaging with the community members, we harvested natural leaders who voluntarily agreed to support their communities to reach ODF status and even extended their services to other communities, thousands of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committee (WASHCOM) members and hundreds of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) communities were trained in Ikom and Yala local government areas; we celebrate success this day after series of quarrels, name-calling, abuses and even beating.” – Oliver Okon, Project Manager CHISHPIN.
“Nigeria is currently the country with the highest number of people practicing open defecation in Africa and ranks second globally with an estimated 47 million people involved in the act, while more than two-thirds of the population are without access to basic sanitation facilities. A critical look at the situation shows that it cannot be business as usual in tackling this challenge.” - Hon minister Federal Ministry of Water Resources Nigeria, represented by Engr. Emmanuel Eze Deputy Director Water Quality and Control.
‘Sustainable Development Goal 6 which ensures the provision of all WASH needs, directly impacts on the attainment of Goals 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 and 17 and contributes indirectly to other Goals. I commended the roles of the implementing partners and charge residents of both local government areas to remain steadfast as the main task is ensuring the sustainability of the status you have attained’. - Hon minister Federal Ministry of Water Resources Nigeria, represented by Engr. Emmanuel Eze Deputy Director Water Quality and Control.