Locals, Stakeholders in Bauchi LGA Speak on Journey to ODF Status

A few years ago, Sunusi Adamu and Elizabeth Adewumi, both traders in Central Market Azare, the capital of Katagum local government of Bauchi State said they defecated in the open until public toilets were built in the market.

They disclosed this when interacting with journalists during an assessment visit to the market organised by the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to commemorate the 2023 World Toilet Day celebrated on the 19th of November every year.

Adamu said he knows the dangers associated with the practice. “I am using the toilets because it helps in combatting diseases,” he said.

Sunusi Adamu, Toilet User/WikkiTimes

Katagum LGA was selected to host the event as part of activities to celebrate its attainment of the Open Defecation Free (ODF) status as declared by UNICEF and the state government.

WikkiTimes had earlier reported that Ummul Qura Science Academy, a private school based in Azare, has constructed 45 toilet facilities for both teachers and students. 

The toilets were constructed after UNICEF facilitated the establishment of the Environmental Sanitation Club (ESC) in the school two years ago.

So far, eight LGAs in the state comprising Dass, Warji, Shira, Gamawa, Bogoro, Ganjuwa, Toro and Katagum LGAs have achieved ODF status.

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Katagum recently joined other LGs after being declared ODF by the Minister of Water Resources, Joseph Utsev in September.

How Katagum Achieved ODF Status

Alhaji Sa’idu Mohammed Alkali, the Coordinator Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in the council, said several stakeholders at different levels were involved before achieving the status.

He explained that traditional leaders, religious leaders, WASH Community Groups, Toilet Business Owners, and Masons were among the stakeholders involved in their journey for success.

Alkali also ascribed the achieved success to the commitment of the local government through monthly meetings and sensitization to the stakeholders and households.

He applauded the stakeholders at all levels and the partner agencies who through their commitment and selfless services the success was achieved.

Toilet Business Owners Commend UNICEF

Alhaji Auwal Aliyu, the Toilet Business Owner disclosed that they were able to maintain a hygienic environment and attained ODF status as a result of the continuous sensitization by the WASH team in the area.

Alhaji Awwal Aliyu, Toilet Owner/WikkiTimes

Aliyu said access to the toilets particularly in public places such as motor parks and market areas was very vital to ensuring a hygienic environment.

The toilet facility, according to Aliyu has a solar-powered borehole for water supply in the toilet provided by the State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA).

One of the toilets built by Alhaji Aliyu/WikkiTimes

He added that as part of his commitment to ODF society, he allows anyone with no money to use the toilet for free.

Aliyu commended UNICEF and its partner agencies for the support and other interventions that facilitated the attainment of the recorded achievements in environmental sanitation in the local council.

Speaking during the visit, Dr Clement Adams, the Officer-in-Charge, UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, said the arrangement for toilet construction by businessmen was an effective way initiated by the organisation to ensure that more people have access to public toilets.

How Bauchi School Constructs 45 Toilets

“As partners, we are aware of this facility and it is one of the strategies being adopted by UNICEF and the Federal government to build cost-effective, user-friendly public toilets. We encourage more construction of toilet facilities such as this one across the state,” said Adams.

‘669 LGAs Still Practice Open Defecation Across Nigeria’

Earlier, in his remark during a media dialogue in Azare, on World Toilet Day 2023, Dr Adams said open defecation is still practised in 669 Local Government Areas in Nigeria.

The Officer-in-Charge of the UNICEF Bauchi Field Office noted that only 105 LGAs out of Nigeria’s 774 LGAs have been validated Open Defecation Free, (ODF) so far.

He congratulated Katagum LGA on the attainment of ODF status. “It is a testament that when we work together, we can achieve great strides,” he said.

According to him, the work of WASH committees and other structures at the community level was integral in promoting and attaining an ODF status across the country.

Dr Clement Adams, the Officer-in-Charge, UNICEF Bauchi Field Office/WikkiTimes

“World Toilet Day is celebrated every year to bring attention to the undeniable importance of safe and hygienic toilets in our daily lives, especially in terms of health, education and of course, socio-economic development.

“We must therefore reinvigorate our efforts if we must meet the sanitation target of SDG 6 – safe toilets and water for all by 2030,” he had said.

Earlier in a remark during the Media Dialogue, Commissioner for Water Resources, Nuhu Zaki, assured that the Bauchi state government was determined to work for the actualization of the Sustainable Development Goal 6.2 target and overall the attainment of state-wide ODF by 2025.

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Zaki represented by the acting General Manager of the Bauchi State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASA) Adamu Sabo, said an additional 5,934 communities in the state were delivered ODF while Bauchi and Zaki LGAs are at the final step of attaining ODF status.

However, one of the challenges identified by UNICEF in its project for a clean society was the inability of some communities to sustain the facilities after the completion.

Abdulsalam Abdullahi, the National Consultant, UNICEF said despite efforts by the international organization and the communities, some households are too poor to construct durable toilets. He identified as a threat to the sustainability of the status of the communities. “You know not all fingers are equal. Some households cannot afford to construct good toilets regardless of type,” he said.

He pointed out that UNICEF is also looking forward to ways to bridge the gap among households to ensure sustainability after achieving the status. “We have poor of the poorest who truly cannot afford. UNICEF is considering possible ways to address this.”

Abdulsalam bemoaned that the first local government that achieved the ODF status was in Bauchi but the state is lagging behind with only eight out of 20 certified so far, while some states have already gotten 100 per cent of LGs ODF certified.

He called on other local governments of Bauchi State to emulate Katagum and the other seven councils to ensure a faeces-free environment in the whole state and the country at large.

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