By Matthew Ajai-Kume
Governor Samuel Ortom has said, launching of a final document, Benue State Open Defection Free Road Map is a hopeful strategy to end Open Defection in the State between now and year 2030.
The Benue State Governor who made this known Thursday, during the celebration of this year’s World Toilet Day as well as the launching of Benue State Open Defection Free (ODF) Road Map and the Exit Meeting of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Sanitation Hygiene and Water in Nigeria (SHAWN), at the New Banquet Hall, Benue People’s House, Makurdi, stated that the road map is a vital step in the journey to end open defection, because it provides the guide to ending the act in all communities and local government areas in the state.
Governor Ortom who was represented by Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment, Engr Dondo Ahile at the event organized by Benue State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (BERWASSA), in collaboration with UNICEF said, the state success story shows that under RUSHPIN programme, Logo, Gwer and Agatu Local Government Areas were declared Open Defection Free LGAs.
“Similarly, under the SHAWN programme, Ogbadibo, Konshisha and Oju are presently ODF Local Government Areas,” he noted.
Governor Ortom pointed out that, hopefully, by the end of November, 2020, Obi and Guma may be validated as ODF, while Tarka and Buruku are about 95% close to being validated and declared ODF by January, 2021.
“As we officially launch this document, we charge management within Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), affiliated agencies and institutions to establish Clean Benue Task Teams with a view to tracking the delivery of ODF on or before 2025 in all establishments in the state, ” he maintained.
Governor Ortom explained that, the State Government has approved N100,000,000 as the state government’s financial commitment towards the implementation of WASH in the state, while he reiterated the hope of the government to increase its commitment to N400,000,000.
Addressing the gathering, the WASH Manager, UNICEF, Enugu, Mamita Thackkar explained that, Benue State has already delivered Six local government areas as Open Defection Free.
Thackkar further explained that, there are 17 LGAs which are yet to achieve this target, including 9 LGAs where no Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) activities have started.
According to Thackkar, there is call for multi-pronged and a multi-level approach, stressing that, the data of 2018 and 2019 shows, that, 50% of the population of Benue State which is close to 2.9 million, practice open defection and only 9% have access to water and soap, while she described the act as very discouraging and called all to have a rethink.
She commended Benue State for launching of ODF road map, noting that, it is a key guiding document that outlines the goals, objectives, timelines and strategies to make the state ODF by 2025.
In an address, the First Lady of Benue State, Dr (Mrs) Eunice Ortom, represented by the wife of the Attorney-General of the State and Commissioner for Justice, Mrs Victoria Gusa, commended the organisers and assured that a total sensitization campaign would be encouraged in the state, in order to make it ODF.
Speaking, the Director General, Benue State Planning Commission, Mr Samuel Unum called on all to take critical steps to maintain good sanitation and shun open defection, in order to avoid the outbreak of diseases, while he called on the stakeholders to make their job and task easy to implement the Benue State Open Defection (ODF) Road Map.
Earlier, in a Welcome Address, the General Manager, BERWASSA, Mr Torkwase Ikyaator said the idea of World Toilet Day was conceived to alert the attention of the world to sanitation issues, while she stressed that, a life without a toilet is life in poverty as diseases and illness emanate from it, leading to huge spending of resources and rendering one to poverty and diseases.
Mrs Ikyaator said, with the launch of ODF road map, the agency and the state government shall put more efforts to achieve total ODF in the state.
The launch had the theme: “Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change.”