For open defecation-free communities

Published on by in Academic

Despite efforts to discourage Nigerians from defecating in the open, the menace has continued unabated with its attendant unpleasant consequences of chronic illnesses and death. In fact Nigeria is ranked by the United Nations as one of the top five countries in the world with the largest people defecating in the open. Recent attempts to address the anomaly, spearheaded by European Union (EU) and the United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF), is making progress but not without daunting challenges. CHUKWUMA MUANYA examines the project, the ‘entry-point' intervention for child survival and development, that aims to make most communities in Cross River state open defecation free (ODF) before the end of the year.

THERESA Uket is a woman leader and secretary of the Water Sanitation and Hygiene Committee (WASHCom) of Mkpani Community of Yakurr Local Council of Cross River State.

Theresa, a grandmother, and other members of the Committee, who are mostly women, were constituted by the WASH Department of Yakurr Local Council and are responsible for monitoring and maintaining facilities and intervention programmes cited in the community.

The Committee, which champions the community led total sanitation (CLTS) programme is concerned about open defecation (OD) and is helping to build public toilets in the community for proper disposal of human wastes.

CLTS is an innovative methodology for mobilising communities to completely eliminate OD. Communities are facilitated to conduct their own appraisal and analysis of OD and take their own action to become open defecation free (ODF).

CLTS is one of the Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) being promoted by UNICEF in over 50 countries and has been adopted in Nigeria for scaling up access to sanitation.

Theresa told The Guardian, who was in Yakurr and Odukpani local councils of Cross River State to assess a special project funded by the EU: "We have started we have toilets at strategic places."

She continued, "we build the toilets on our own but under the advice of UNICEF. We started in 2010. We build public toilets in villages. We have four in Ajere village, four in Aduma, Afabenyen we have four and one in Lebilo clan."

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