EnvironmentHealthUse Young People As Foot Soldiers in Open Defecation Fight- NGO


ABUJA —  YouthWASH Initiative Africa on Friday called on the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to include young persons in its fight to end open defecation practice in the country.

The National Coordinator of the organisation, Mr. Nature Obiakor, made this call when the team paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Suleiman Adamu in Abuja.

According to him, the partnership to promote youth participation in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes in Nigeria, is deliberate as they have the zeal and passion as tomorrow’s leaders.

He said the group was a network of youth organisations working on water and sanitation in Nigeria and also campaigning for right and access to potable, clean water and sanitation.

Obiakor expressed worry over the lack of inclusion of young people in the WASH campaign.

The national coordinator said an intervention programme carried out in Burji and Birnin –Kudu, Abuji Community in Jigawa State in 2018, sensitised and cleaned the environment against open defecation.

He said YouthWASH as a member of the National Task Group on Sanitation, had been actively involved in the Community Led Total Sanitation campaign (CLTS) interventions in the country.

“There is a huge gap lacking in the area of youth inclusion, if looked into, it will allow for speedy progress in the WASH sector.

“We therefore call for young people to be properly mainstreamed in the sanitation policies, programmes and project in the country,’’ he said.

Obiakor said that in its pursuit of the clean Nigeria campaign, the organization had adopted a simple innovation where members of the National Youth Service Corps would form part of the programme.

This, he noted, would be done by leveraging on the Sanitation Community Development Service (CDS) group embedded in all the 774 local government areas of the country.

He also noted that the YLTS campaign has the capacity to create over 10,000 job opportunity for these youths, calling for proper training of young people on policies and sanitation business.

“The youths have the energy, skills and innovation hence, the need for them to be engaged to mitigate against climate change, and environmental sustainability,’’ he said.

He sought the support of the Ministry to provide it with a youth desk at the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, where it can interface with young people.

The Director, Water Supply Department with the Ministry, Mr Benson Ajisegiri also called for the Ministry’s support in forming the WASH Club at community levels and finding ways of working on other areas in a sustainable manner.

He craved the indulgence of the minister to discuss with the team at the departmental level to find areas of synergy between the organisation and the Ministry.

He commended the team for its initiative of engaging youths for WASH campaign aimed at ending Open Defecation.

Mr Emmanuel Ugwu, Youth Desk Officer of African Ministers’ Council on Water, supported the notion of creating a youth desk at the ministry, as it was in the organisation’s 2013 youth strategy.

“We also have plans to coordinate this exercise, to be like the overall guidelines that will be cascaded to different member state.

“In the previous strategies, there was no clear terms of reference and roles to be done, but AMCOW has restated its commitment to work with the Ministry to support in any way they can,’’ he said.

Responding, Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, commended the idea of using Corps members to implement the YLTS campaign and for other WASH related issues.

Adamu, while making reference to the Indian example on sanitation, revealed that India’s WASH programme had created a multi-million-dollar economy in the sector and has committed over 60 billion dollars to ensure that every community have access to water.

The minister said he remained optimistic that if the country gets its priority right, it would achieve the required result in the WASH sector.

He frowned at the country’s approach to WASH, which he said had been neglected for other huge capital projects but appreciated the effort of Youth Wash Initiative Africa for identifying with the ministry and keying into their policies and programmes.

He appealed to the media to do more by promoting activities of the Ministry for the interest of Nigerians.

“For us, the pleasure is when additional people drink water and have access to toilet, as a Ministry, it gives us satisfaction.

“We are not playing to the gallery, we are impacting people directly, and that is what gives us joy.

“The Ministry will engage the YouthWASH team to work out a synergy that will promote its activities, especially as it concerns setting up of Youth Wash Clubs at Community levels,’’ Adamu said.

He urged youths to find something useful doing like owning and making a living from toilet business, as the Ministry was ready to give its support to achieve the purpose.

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