In his determination to eliminate open defecation in Ondo State, the State Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has inaugurated the steering Committee on implementation of Open Defecation Free (ODR) in line with the State Government set target as well as the target of the Sustainable Development Goal to eradicate ODF in 2030.
The Governor, while inaugurating the committee in Akure, the State Capital, expressed his displeasure on the available record that shows that out of 47million Nigerians that practices Open Defecation, 9million lived in the South West, out of which 1.4million lived in Ondo State, saying that this is unacceptable to his administration.
He affirmed that members of the Committee were carefully selected from relevant Ministries and Extra Ministerial Departments and Agencies (MEDA's), Non - Governmental Organizations, relevant bodies as well as Development Partners to ensure that the State become free from open defecation within stipulated time frame and enforce the policies that have been enacted for immediate implementation.
According to him, the policies enacted by the state government included, immediate prohibition of open defecation in any part of the state; filling stations along the high way in the state should put in place a functional and accessible public convenience within their facilities for public use; public facilities within the State to put in place accessible and functional toilet within 6month, effective from July 1st, 2019 or be liable to 3months imprisonment with an option of #100,000.
He added that all Public and Private Schools must have functional toilets with dedicated space for Menstrual Hygiene Management for girls’ students in the Schools; while Private and Public buildings in the State must must have functional toilets within 6months from July 1st, 2019.
The Governor opined that his administration is resolute to tackle the menace holistically to avoid its grave consequences on the people of the state in the areas of health, child development, education, dignity and security among others, adding that the incidence of Open Defecation has painted the State in bad light among other States in the Country.
Earlier in his welcome address, the State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Pastor Emmanuel Igbasan who is also the Chairman of the Committee lamented increasing rate of Open Defecation practices in Ondo State, noting that available record indicates that 32 per cent of the State population indulges in open defecation as against 24.1 per cent and 23.5 per cent for regional and National average respectively.
Pastor Igbasan said the Committee was inaugurated in consultation with UNICEF and other relevant Development Partners on how best to implement the roadmap to eradicating Open Defecation in Ondo State.
He appealed to Local Government Council, Health Officers and other Stakeholders to cooperate with the Committee to ensure that every Community and ward are galvanized and sensitized to achieve the set objectives.
In her goodwill massage, the Officer in Charge, UNICEF, Akure, Mrs Mohsena Islam, said access to safe water and sanitation is a fundamental human right as declared by the UN General Assembly.
She noted that safe water, effective sanitation and good hygiene are all critical to the health of every person and underpin all aspect of human and economic development.
In his remarks, the Committee Secretary and Chairman, State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), Mrs Yetunde Adeyanju lauded the efforts of government aimed at tacking problems of Open Defecation in the state.
She pledged on behalf of the Committee to handle the assignment with every sense of responsibility.