BENUE State government has called on all stakeholders in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, WASH sector to live up to their responsibilities of providing latrines and hygiene services in their domains to enable the state to achieve its target of Clean Benue by 2025 as enshrined in the ODF Roadmap.
The General Manager of Benue Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, BERWASSA, Mrs Torkwase Ikyaator during the celebration of five LGA Open Defecation Free, ODF status in Makurdi yesterday, also tasked SUBEB, PHCB, ALGON, Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the Head of Service, HoS to ensure that WASH services like toilets are provided in schools, offices, LG secretariats, markets, and motor parks.
The five LGAs which have attained ODF status include Konshisha, Oju, Obi, Tarka, and Buruku.
Mrs. Torkwase also called on the private sector to join hands with the Benue State government to actively participate in the journey to make the state an ODF in 2025 by investing in Water and Sanitation facilities.
Although she noted that the state currently has over 2.7 which translates to one in every two people practicing open defecation, she however said the state ranks third as one with the highest number of LGA wide Open Defecation
“The reason for the high population of people practicing open defecation remains that 14 LGAs have wholly or partially received WASH intervention and 9 LGAs are completely without any form of WASH intervention.
“The state can boast of nine LGAs that have been declared LGA wide Open Defecation Free in line with the guidelines of the National Task Group on Sanitation (NTGS). Six of the LGAs are funded by the DFID/UNICEF-SHWAN Project and three from the WSSCC/GSF-United Purpose RUSHPIN Programme.
Speaking at the occasion, Mamita Bora Thakker, WASH Manager, UNICEF, Enugu, said the state has made significant progress in WASH, especially with regards to creating ODF LGAs.
“In a record time of 1.5 years, five ODF LGAs were achieved, despite the COVID restrictions and challenges. This is a remarkable achievement for the State.
“The State has launched the ODF Road Map, it has constituted the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on WASH and most recently allocated 250 MLN Naira for PEWASH.
“This to me is a huge progress. We already have 9 LGAs which are ODF in the State. With two more planned before the end of the year, we will soon reach the 50% mark.
“So, how can we achieve this? If we do the right things, we can gain the distinction of the first state to be ODF. Can we rise to take this challenge? We have big and medium towns like Gboko and Otukpo? What are the solutions for urban small towns?
“We need to change our perception of sanitation from being a stand-alone issue to one that impinges on several areas of our growth and development, including several of our SDGs.
“We need to accelerate our efforts to create a State with no Open Defecation. We need to recognize that investments in water, sanitation and hygiene pay dividends in public health, nutrition, education, employment, gender equality, and the environment.
“The cost of inaction is too high to neglect. This is especially true for children. The State is uniquely positioned to make a substantial impact in the lives, health and economy of its future generations through investments in water, sanitation and hygiene.
“Clean water and sanitation is not only about hygiene and disease, they’re about dignity, too. Many examples show that self-esteem begins with having a safe and proper toilet facility,” she said.