By Ann Ngbea
The governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom has said, that the state government is determined to work closely with development partners,local government Councils, traditional and Religious leaders to ensure that Benue State sustain its status as an Open Defecation Free (ODF) state.
He stated this at the Benue ODF Roadmap Validation Stakeholders Workshop held at the Conference Hall at HallyDays Hotel, Makurdi.
According to the Governor, the Benue Government had declared a state of emergency on Water, Sanitation And Hygiene WASH services and launched the clean Benue: Use The Toilet Campaign following the landmark event with the support of the United Nations Children Education funds UNICEF/DFID,the state government through the Benue State Rural Water Supply And Sanitation Agency BERWASSA.
He said it is gratifying to note that from three,(3) Local Government Areas last year, six (6) more Local Government Areas have been certified ODF, making it a remarkable achievement on which he hoped the state would build on.
The governor said he sees it as a challenge to ensure that the remaining Seventeen (17) Local Government Areas acquire the ODF status within the shortest possible time, especially to achieve the 2025 target date.
“I believe that with all hands on deck,we can achieve it even though we have a very disturbing picture before us as the National outcome Routine Mapping of Water Sanitation And Hygiene WASH services (WASH NORM) 2018 shows that, only 11 percent of population has access to complete basic water and sanitation and hygiene services, 68 percent has access to basic-drinking water, 342 percent to basic sanitation services while 24 percent practice open defecation.
Let me make it clear that open defecation is not only practiced by rural dwellers.it is a huge problem in our villages towns and cities “he said.
The Governor acknowledged that the state is aware of the role it’s supposed to play due to the fact that clean water and clean environment are not only essential ingredients to the general well being of the Benue people,believing too that investment in water, sanitation and hygiene has positive multiple effects on health, Education, environment, productivity, and poverty reduction as well as their socio economic development as a whole which marks as one of the crucial gate ways to attainment of the entire Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Governor Samuel Ortom also urged all stakeholders present at the validation workshop to work as a team to reviewing the revising and building a workable consensus on the strategies towards achieving ODF for all the Local Government Areas in Benue State by 2025.
In her speech, wife of the Benue State Governor, Mrs Eunice Ortom, represented by wife of the Deputy, Justice Mary Abounu stated the state government’s commitments to ensuring that the state attains a Total ODF status come 2025.
According to the WASH Director UNICEF ENUGU,Momita Bora Thakkar” to meet the sanitation goals of the National Action Plan NAP, the Federal Government launched the Clean n Nigeria: Use The Toilet Campaign.
The NAP makes provision for the establishment of a National WASH Fund (NWF) to mobilize available resources in line with the estimated expenditure to ensure the attainment of the SDGS targets for Water and sanitation by 2030″ she said.
Earlier in her speech, the General manager, BERWASSA Mrs Torkwase Ikyaator said” the workshop was aimed at validating the overall strategy goals, objectives, milestone, actions and intervention as outlined in the draft Open Defecation Free ODF Roadmap, the policy document are about to review .
“This stakeholders’ consultation is therefore expected to review,revise and build consensus on an agreed strategy to provide a policy direction for Government, Ministries, Departments and agencies (MDAs) and all non-state actors.it will help to identify this immediate steps towards rolling out and steer the implementation of the Roadmap” she started.
The Benue WASH policy of 2008 under review will provide strategic statements which will address the menace of Open Defecation among other WASH issues.stating that Open defecation is a threat to our lives and socio- economic development.if not properly managed,it has the potential to erode the dignity and pride of the people.She also narrated that the menace is capable of keeping us locked in both economic and health poverty, risks and hazards associated with Water, Sanitation And Hygiene WASH.