As the world observes World Toilet Day on November 19, 2023, Nigeria takes center stage in the global effort to address sanitation challenges, break taboos, and raise awareness about the critical role toilets play in preserving human dignity and public health.

The 2023 World Toilet Day theme: “Accelerating Change” is set to address the need to have proper access to toilets and the significance of having good hygiene in the daily lifestyle. Several severe diseases can spread due to poor hygiene and poor sanitation, hence the need for awareness.

In a country where access to proper sanitation remains a pressing issue, World Toilet Day serves as a poignant reminder of the need to prioritize and revolutionize sanitation practices. Millions of Nigerians still lack access to basic toilet facilities, leading to a myriad of health and social challenges.

Beyond the infrastructural challenges, there exists a cultural and societal stigma surrounding discussions about toilets and sanitation. World Toilet Day encourages Nigerians to break the silence and foster open conversations about the importance of sanitation and the role toilets play in maintaining community health and well-being.

The Nigerian government, recognizing the urgency of addressing sanitation issues, has embarked on initiatives to improve access to clean and safe toilets across the nation. World Toilet Day provides a platform to showcase these efforts and rally support for sustained investments in sanitation infrastructure.

In communities across Nigeria, local leaders, NGOs, and individuals are championing grassroots movements to address sanitation challenges. From building public toilets to organizing awareness campaigns, these initiatives underscore the power of community-led solutions in transforming the sanitation landscape.

Speaking at a press briefing in commemoration of World Toilet Day 2023 in Abuja, the Minister of Environment, Malam Balarabe Lawal Abbas mandated that all building plans in Nigeria must now include toilets. He outlined plans to propose this requirement to state governments, urging all building institutions to enforce it.

Malam Balarabe further emphasized the importance of sewage systems in urban areas and safe sewage collection to address the challenges of disposal effectively as many of the water bodies including rivers and streams become a repository for sewage and wastewater.

According to Malam Balarabe, “The persistent re-occurrence of annual incidences of cholera outbreaks in some states across the country is linked to poor sanitation and hygiene.

“One of the major consequences of poor excreta and sewage disposal is the high rate of diarrhea disease which is the second cause of high morbidity and mortality rates among children under the age of five.”

On his part, the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, stated that over 100 million people in the country lack access to basic sanitation. He noted that progress is being made towards attaining the Open Defecation Free Status in communities and local government areas across the country.

“In this regard, it is noteworthy that 105 LGAs and over 40,000 communities have achieved the ODF status. Despite this encouraging development, we need to do much more in order to attain the 2025 target date of ending open defecation in Nigeria,” Prof. Joseph Utsev said.

Further reiterating the global and national importance of addressing the sanitation crisis, the Director overseeing the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Charles Ikeah, stressed the threat it poses to nature and public health, particularly among vulnerable groups.

In Kaduna state, the Center for Water and Environment Development (CWED), on Monday 20th November, donated sanitary items to some public schools to promote toilet hygiene and end open defecation.

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According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Items donated include jerry cans of liquid soap, disinfectants, and toilet brushes.

The Programme Officer of CWED, Mrs. Lydia Saleh, while speaking with newsmen at the event, said the Center was looking forward to seeing schools in the state getting better in sanitation and hygiene management which is in line with the year’s theme.

As explained by Mrs Saleh, most of the students in public schools are vulnerable to toilet infections and other diseases and so the items presented by the Center are meant to improve toilet hygiene in schools.

In Lagos, the state government flagged off its ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ campaign as part of efforts to meet the 2025 target for the eradication of open defecation nationwide.

In accordance with the press release, the mandate of the state government to eradicate open defecation is embedded in Pillar One, Goal Two of the Lagos Resilience Strategy Document which focuses on “improving access to clean water and sanitation through four initiatives”.

“The four initiatives were: Provision of public toilets and bathrooms in each LGA and LCDA; Construction of community wastewater treatment plants; Developing an integrated waste management system; Expanding and protecting water sources to improve the city’s water supply,” the statement said.

World Toilet Day 2023 also highlights the crucial role of hygiene education, especially in schools. By instilling proper sanitation practices in the younger generation, Nigeria aims to create a lasting impact on public health, laying the foundation for a future where access to clean toilets is a universal right.

World Toilet Day is not just a national endeavor; it’s a global call to action. Nigeria joins with the international community to share experiences, innovations, and solutions, fostering a collaborative approach to tackle the global sanitation crisis.

As Nigeria marks World Toilet Day 2023, it is a moment to reflect on the progress made, acknowledge the challenges that persist, and commit to a future where every Nigerian has access to clean and safe toilets.

Beyond the infrastructure, this day encourages a cultural shift, recognizing sanitation as a basic human right and an essential foundation for a healthier and more prosperous nation.

In commemorating World Toilet Day, Nigeria is not just flushing away waste; it is flushing away the stigma, forging a path toward a more sanitary and dignified future for all its citizens.

Through collaborative efforts, government initiatives, grassroots movements, and technological innovations, Nigeria is shaping the narrative of progress, one where every citizen can enjoy the dignity and health benefits that come with access to clean and safe toilets.

The journey is ongoing, but the destination is clear: a sanitary and healthy Nigeria for generations to come.