The Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) has urged stakeholders to collaborate to provide adequate toilets, to stop open defecation in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Alhaji Ali Kaka, director of AEPB, made the call in Abuja on Monday as World Toilet Day 2021 was commemorated.
Kaka noted that the day was set aside by the General Assembly to be observed on November 19 each year, and this year's theme, "Valuing the toilet," was aimed at raising awareness among the approximately 3.6 billion people who live across the world without access to safely managed sanitation.
He said the goal was also to sensitize the public to always provide and use toilets, in order to achieve a defecation-free outdoor environment.
The director of the AEPB affirmed that the board of directors began the commemoration on November 18, with various activities, such as raising awareness in the FCT communities about the importance of access to toilets.
"We also involved some government schools in an essay contest on the importance of valuing the toilet," said the principal.
He further added that world toilet day was about taking action to address the global sanitation crisis and achieve the sixth sustainable development goal (SDG), "water and sanitation" for all by 2030.
“This year's campaign draws attention to the fact that toilets and the sanitation system that support them are underfunded, poorly managed or neglected in many parts of the country.
“Today, the FCT administration, having noted the problems associated with open defecation, deemed it appropriate to call upon stakeholders to deliberate on the investment of resources in the provision of more toilets.
"The effort will allow us to stop the open defecation that is practiced here and avoid the diseases associated with it," he said.
Kaka advised FCT residents to invest in the provision of adequate sanitation systems in their various homes, communities, schools, market areas, and other public places.
FCT Water Board CEO Dr. Joy Okoro said toilets could not be maintained without adequate access to water, noting that most people still do not have access to toilets.
Okoro said the only way to address the threat of open defecation was for relevant stakeholders to collaborate effectively, build public toilets and raise awareness of the importance of maintaining them.
“We need strong stakeholder collaboration; We must also work on our attitude, educate our people, especially our children who are tender.
“We need to teach them that it is wrong to defecate anyway and anywhere, let them know that the bathroom is the best place to defecate. With effort, they will know what is right, and by doing so, children can emulate the habit too, ”he said.
Additionally, Alhaji Aminu Musa, president of the FCT Public Convenience Maintece Association, said that stakeholders should strive to collaborate to achieve the goal of ending open defecation by 2025.
Musa, on behalf of Umar, the association's secretary general, also called on the government and the private sector to work together to ensure the success of the construction of public toilets.
The Nigerian News Agency reports that AEPB engaged three government secondary schools in an essay contest on the importance of valuing the toilet, as part of activities to mark the event.
The schools are: Government Science High School, Garki, Modelo High School, Maitama and Government Science High School (Pyakasa), Maitama, all in the FCT.
Meanwhile, the Government Science High School, Pyakasa, took first place in the essay competition.