Mrs. Monica Ugochi Ugwuanyi, wife of Enugu State Governor, has called on stakeholders in the state to create adequate awareness against poor sanitation and a statewide movement to stop open defecation in order to make the state open defecation free by 2025. Mrs. Ugwuanyi who made the call during the end of the two-day inception workshop for the development of the state’s roadmap for the attainment of the “Open Defecation Free (ODF)” goal by 2025, stressed that sanitation is critical to health and human capital as well as economic growth.
The workshop was organized by the Enugu State Ministry of Water Resources, the state’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (ENRUWASSA) and Mrs. Ugwuanyi’s pet project, Ugo’s Touch of Life Foundation (U-TOLF), in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Speaking further, the Enugu governor’s wife added that open defecation and poor sanitation pollute the environment and cause health problems, disclosing that high level of open defecation is linked to high child mortality, poor nutrition, among others.
According to her, “this limits the child’s ability to absorb nutrients – no matter how much food they eat. A malnourished child does not grow up to be healthy or a productive child.
Girls are exposed to dangers, no privacy for their sanitation needs; sometimes they are raped or kidnapped. For adults, it means less income when they cannot work and more expenses for medications”.
Mrs. Ugwuanyi therefore harped on the urgent need to commence the development of the state’s open defecation strategy “by complying with certain conditions laid down by the Federal Government such as the context, the vision, the strategies, the actions, targets and the time-lines”.
She said that improving sanitation in the state is all about investing in the people and transforming lives, pointing out that, in achieving this, “healthier children will become healthier adults who contribute more to the economy and the society”. Her words: “People defecate in the open where sanitation infrastructure and services are not available; others because of their traditional practices.
This practice is not limited to rural areas, but urban centres as well. “Strengthening the sanitation value-chain is critical for sustainability, as toilets need to be maintained and their by-product adequately managed. Global experience has shown that an emerging sanitation eco-system emerges from improved sanitation, which also creates opportunities to develop the local economy”.
Declaring the workshop closed, the Enugu governor’s wife appreciated UNICEF, MoWR, ENRUWASSA and U-TOLF for organizing the timely event and commended the state government for its role, as well as the inauguration of the State Emergency Action Steering Committee.