Harpic, the flagship brand of Reckitt Benckiser (RB), in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Environment, has embarked on a project to upgrade and refurbish 25 public toilet units for four communities in Lagos State.
The exercise is part of a long strategic partnership established with Lagos State to tackle open defecation in the state and more importantly, connect more with its products users.
The newly refurbished public toilets located in Ojota, Oshodi, Costain and Alausa, would be manned by 32 toilet managers under the payroll of Harpic, which is also providing other cleaning materials for the facilities.
Speaking at the inauguration of the toilets, RB West Africa General Manager, Mr. Dayanand Sriram, stated that Harpic, being a customer friendly brand was committed to changing the stories surrounding open defecation and toilet sanitation in Lagos and Nigeria in general. He said that the brand was interested in tackling the challenge of open defecation in Nigeria as a way of ensuring healthier and happier lives for Nigeria.
“According to United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Nigeria is among the nations in the world with the highest number of people practicing open defecation, estimated at over 46 million people with a projected 56 million new cases in the next 10 years. The practice has had a negative effect on the populace, especially children, in the areas of health and education and had contributed to the country’s failure to meet the Millenium Development Goal target.
“A 2012 World Bank Report further revealed that Nigeria loses N455 billion or $3 billion annually due to poor sanitation. This works out to $20 per capita/year and constitutes 1.3 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP. The report also stated that open defecation alone costs the country over $1 billion a year. The market potential of sanitation in the country is huge. If the 46 million people that defecate in the open at present opt for toilets, the demand for material and labour, on a conservative estimate, will work out to over $8 billion,” Sriram.
He added: “The toilet refurbishment project will result in big positive attitudinal change, which will impact the lives of the people and the environment.
Our immediate priority is to change consumers’ behaviour for a healthy environment. Open defecation is not only dehumanising, it is also an abuse of human rights, which we are determined to stop.”
Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Environment, Mr. Abiodun Bamgboye, commended the initiative and encouraged greater partnership between the private and public sectors to further boost the welfare of the people in the state.
RB West Africa Marketing Director, Aliza Leferink, stated that the Harpic open defecation elimination programme is targeted to reach over 1 million homes in 16 cities to educate and encourage people to use clean toilets regularly.