- Â First out of 70 LGAs in six states
Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
The Bauchi state government has declared Dass Local Government Area in the state as Open Defecation Free (ODF); thus becoming the first LGA out of the 70 LGAs in the six Sanitation, Hygiene, and Water in Nigeria (SHAWN) project states in the country.
The Secretary to the Bauchi State Government (SSG), Muhammad Nadada Umar said with the declaration of Dass LGA as defecation free, it also became the second out of the 774 LGAs as ODF in the country.
At a press briefing in Bauchi recently, Alhaji Umar described the achievement as a remarkable milestone in the implementation of the Department for International Development/United Nations Children Fund (DfID/UNICEF) project in the state.
â€œThis means that the right steps and accreditation procedures have been completed in Dass LGA for its conferment of the status of zero open defecation in all its 351 communities, including institutions (schools and PHCs) and public places (markets and motor parks).â€
He disclosed that arrangements are ongoing for a grand national celebration, to be led by the Minister of Water Resources, to be hosted by Governor Mohammed Abubakar sometime in the last quarter of the year, where the minister would present a certificate to Dass LG and the State.
Umar revealed that Warji and Gamawa LGAs are also on the verge of attaining the ODF status probably before the end of the year, and called on all concerned stakeholders to work assiduously towards achieving the desired goal.
The SSG therefore appealed to all the other LGAs in the state to remain focused on the state roadmap for the attainment of the state-wide ODF by 2025 in the collective efforts towards of the WASH Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He commended the commitment, support and efforts of Governor Abubakar, UNICEF, DfID, FMOWR, Emir of Dass and his council, as well as Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and all stakeholders who contributed to the actualisation of the dream come true.
Also speaking at the occasion, the permanent secretary, RUWASSA, Garba Babaji Magaji said the SHAWN project was aimed at accelerating and sustaining progress in safe excreta disposal, adoption of basic safe hygiene practices and access to safe water, thereby reducing water and sanitation related diseases.
He recalled that the project which started with three LGAs of Dass, Gamawa and Warji in 2010, had by 2016 expanded to ten LGAs with additional seven LGAs of Shira, Toro, Bogoro, Ganjuwa, Zaki, Katagum and Bauchi.
Alhaji Magaji noted that at the inception of the project, open defecation was considered a normal and general practice; traditional and cultural beliefs inhibited, to a taboo level, the provision and usage of toilets.
â€œPersonal hygiene, especially menstrual hygiene was at its lowest, women and children, especially the girl child, spend most of their time searching for water, from mostly unsafe sources, and water and sanitation related diseases, such as diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, etc were highly prevalentâ€, he added.
Garba said however that sanitation intervention was adopted as entry point of project implementation that offered potential to deliver behaviour change through creating a feeling of shame and disgust among community members on the implication of their behaviours.
â€œThis gingers the whole communities into spontaneous action and commitment to end their unsafe sanitation and hygiene behaviours, and end open defecation, through the construction, usage and management of toilets, not only at household level but also in schools, health centres, markets, motor parks and other public places,â€ he added.