In a bid to combat the prevalent issue of open defecation in Plateau State, where the rate stands at a concerning 56%, a local advocacy group is intensifying efforts to raise awareness about the dangers associated with this practice. Citizens are being urged to adopt improved sanitation and hygiene practices within their homes to curb the spread of diseases in their communities.
The call to action includes a plea for citizens to facilitate the installation of sanitary facilities, such as toilets, in their homes. Furthermore, residents are encouraged to promote the proper utilization of these facilities, fostering a community-wide commitment to improved hygiene.
Joel Gomiyar, the Programme Officer at Media Action for Health, Environment, and Sustainable Development (MAHESD), delivered this message during a campaign in Jos on Monday, coinciding with this year’s World Toilet Day. Gomiyar emphasized that issues related to water, sanitation, and hygiene are fundamental human rights that demand serious attention.
“The World Toilet Organisation, founded by philanthropist Jack Sim in Singapore in 2001, declared every November 19 as World Toilet Day. This day was chosen deliberately to enhance public engagement, relevance, and ease of public messaging,” Gomiyar explained. “The observance of this special day aims to stimulate conversations about good sanitation and hygiene practices, fostering a collective effort to achieve an open defecation-free society. This, in turn, contributes to the reduction of maternal mortality rates and prevents outbreaks of avoidable diseases.”
The theme for this year’s World Toilet Day is ‘Accelerating Change for Safe Sanitation.’ Gomiyar urged the public to take responsibility for maintaining cleanliness in their toilets and surroundings. He highlighted the severe health risks associated with poor hygiene and sanitation, emphasizing the role of communities in spreading awareness and advocating for accessible sanitation for all.
Gomiyar expressed concern over the persistent challenges faced in rural areas, where open defecation and inadequate sanitation facilities remain prevalent. “Open Defecation (OD) and Bad Hygiene (BH) have been major contributors to severe illnesses in our neighborhoods. Unfortunately, in rural areas, open defecation and the absence of proper sanitation facilities persist,” he lamented.
The advocacy group, in collaboration with the Plateau State Environmental Protection and Sanitation Agency (PEPSA), is striving to mobilize communities and amplify awareness on the crucial importance of sanitation. Their efforts are aligned with the belief that sanitation, good hygiene, and access to clean toilets and water are fundamental human rights, and that the observance of World Toilet Day plays a pivotal role in promoting these rights.
As the campaign gains momentum, the hope is that Plateau State will witness a positive shift towards improved sanitation practices, ultimately creating a healthier and more sustainable living environment for its residents.