Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, the Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Environment said on Saturday that Open Defecation (OD) could lead to an increase in the rate of sexual assault on children and women.
Ikeazor made this known at the 2019 World Toilet Day 10,000 Man-March against Open Defecation in Nigeria, held in Abuja.
She said that many women and girls were being sexually assaulted as they defecated in the bush.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Toilet for All: Focusing on leaving no one behind”.
The 10,000 man-march was a roadshow organised by the ministry from Area 1 roundabout to the old parade ground in Area 3, Garki, Abuja to demonstrate the need to end open defecation in the country.
Participants in the roadshow included civil servants, primary and secondary school children, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and Gbagi youths.
Ikeazor, who was represented by Mr Peter Daniang, the Director of Human Resources in the ministry said that the roadshow was in commemoration of the forthcoming World Toilet Day, designated by the United Nations General Assembly to hold on every Nov. 19.
She said that unsafe and unclean toilets could cause various problems including the spread of diseases such as typhoid, cholera, diarrhoea and, hepatitis.
“The sanitation crisis that exists in many parts of the country and the impact it has on human beings and nature cannot be ignored.
“The ministry is urging each and every one of you to redouble your efforts in ensuring that everyone everywhere has access to a toilet, leaving no one behind,’’ she said.
Mr Theodore Nwaokwe, the Director, Environmental Management in the ministry said that the march was one of the strategies that the government had put in place to create awareness on the need for every house to have a toilet.
According to him, there are several advantages attached to every household having a toilet.
He added that open defecation could lead to death, among other things.
“Ordinarily, the government is not to provide toilets for the people.
“If the government were to build toilets in some locations, it should be like a pilot project showing people the kind of toilet they should build.’’
Dr Edwin Edeh, the National Consultant, Public Health and Environment, World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria said that the march was a significant one as sanitation was necessary to human health.
According to Edeh, the theme for this year’s world toilet day is significant to WHO because it will help the organisation to galvanise actions among stakeholders and people at various levels to address open defecation in Nigeria.
He said that WHO had done a lot to support the government in the area of advocacy, training, pilot intervention on water and sanitation.
“WHO trained more than 230 women on domestic hygiene and sanitation in Edo and Ondo states.
“We have also trained 100 environmental officers and 200 community volunteers among others in Nigeria,” he added.
Some participants at the programme, who called for proper handwashing to prevent the spread of diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera, also urged community leaders to ensure that people in their areas had access to toilets to eradicate open defecation.