By Catherine Philip Jelani
OD Open defecation is the human practice of defecating outside "in the open" rather than using the toilet. People may choose fields, bushes, forests, ditches etc. OD has been a serious problem and a threat to our livelihood that needs to be tackled as a matter of urgency. ODF Open Defecation Free on the other hand simply means ending the human practice of defeacating in the open by using toilet for defeacation rather than bushes etc. According to the Wikipedia, 'Open defecation free' (ODF) is a term used to describe communities that have shifted to using toilets instead of open defecation.
It's also in the news that the Federal Government of Nigeria has slated 2025 for the attainment of ODF in the country, hence the need for the State to have an overview of the Adamawa State ODF Roadmap (2023-2028). While conducting a research on what UNICEF's stand on OPF in Nigeria is, I found out that UNICEF said, Nigeria needs to build 20 million household toilets, and 43,000 toilets in schools, health centres, and public places to become a clean and healthy country and become OD-free by 2025.
It's there in this regard that the Adamawa State Government, the Federal Government in partnership with the UNICEF is engaging key Stakeholders to come up with a document that will work in favour of the State. These Stakeholders were drawn from the Line Ministries of the State Ministry of Water Resources which comprises of the State Ministries of Health, Environment, Land, Women Affairs, Education, Commerce and Industry, Housing, Finance, Information and Strategy, Local Government Affairs with some Agencies as RUWASSA, Small Towns Water Station, Water Board, NGOs peculiar to WASH activities, the media. Others were the Local Government WASH Coordinators.
The stakeholders were grouped into seven groups and were given a task from each chapter of the draft of the roadmap under the watch of the resource persons. At the end of the day, feedbacks were collected from every group after a presentation.
Mean while, the Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Water Resources, Engr. Michael Medugu in a remark urged participants to put their heads together and develop the ODF document because it is for the entire people of Adamawa. "In view of this, you are to do justice to it please", he said.
Similarly, the Lead Consultant for Adamawa State Open Defecation Free roadmap, Dr Boluwaji Onabolu who is also the President Network of Female Professionals in WASH ( FEMinWASH) and CEO WASHMATA Initiatives has called on every stakeholder to make positive input that will work for the people of Adamawa State. In another development, she said that women should be included in the decision making in the WASH sector, " There are some meetings that I've attended, I might be the only woman in the room in the WASH sector. There's an improvement in this gathering because I can see that at least, less than 5 percent in the gathering are women. " We are stronger together," she said.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalist in the State, Comrade Ishaka Dedan in his contribution on how we can identify the challenges of open Defecation said, we need the media's real involvement especially the radio because it reaches almost all the nooks and crannies of the State. The media can do a thorough investigation from the budget allocation for the building of public toilets to how it's being implemented. Media can also provide the language that the people understand, otherwise the challenges will continue to be there.
On his part, the Adamawa State WASH SECTOR Coordinator, Umar Sajoh commended the efforts made by the participants to ensure that the State roadmap is put in place.
Highlight of the workshop include good will messages from UNICEF, RUWASA, Small Towns Water Station, NGOs and others.