THE Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, said that open defecation could be one the factors increasing the rate of sexual assaults on women and children.
At the 2019 World Toilet Day 10,000 Man-March against Open Defecation in Nigeria, held Saturday in Abuja, Ikeazor said that many women and young girls were being sexually assaulted as they defecated in the open bush.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Toilet for All: Focusing on leaving no one behind.”
The 10,000 man-march was a roadshow organised by the ministry from Area 1 roundabout to the old parade ground in Area 3, Garki, Abuja to demonstrate the need to end open defecation in the country.
Participants in the roadshow included civil servants, primary and secondary school children, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and Gbagi youths.
The Director of Human Resources in the ministry, Mr Peter Daniang, who represented Ikeazor, said that the roadshow was to mark the forthcoming World Toilet Day, designated by the United Nations General Assembly to hold on every November 19.
He said that unsafe and unclean toilets could cause various problems including the spread of diseases such as typhoid, cholera, diarrhea and hepatitis.
The Director pointed out that, “the sanitation crisis that exists in many parts of the country and the impact it has on human beings and nature cannot be ignored.
“The ministry is urging each and every one of you to redouble your efforts in ensuring that everyone everywhere has access to toilet, leaving no one behind.”
Mr Theodore Nwaokwe, the Director, Environmental Management in the ministry said that the march was one of the strategies the government had used to create awareness on the need for every house to have a toilet.
According to him, open defecation could lead to death, among other things and that “ordinarily the government is not to provide toilets for the people. If government were to build toilets in some locations, it should be like a pilot project showing people the kind of toilet they should build.”
The National Consultant, Public Health and Environment, World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria, Dr Edwin Edeh, said that the march was a significant one as sanitation was necessary to human health.
According to him, the theme for this year’s world toilet day is significant to WHO because it will help the organisation to galvanise actions among stakeholders and people at various levels to address open defecation in Nigeria.
He said that WHO had done a lot to support the government in the area of advocacy, training, pilot intervention on water and sanitation.
Said him: “WHO trained more than 230 women on domestic hygiene and sanitation in Edo and Ondo states.
“We have also trained 100 environmental officers and 200 community volunteers among others in Nigeria.”
Some participants at the programme, who called for proper handwashing to prevent the spread of diseases such as diarrhea and cholera, also urged community leaders to ensure that people in their areas had access to toilets to eradicate open defecation.