In a move aimed at improving public health and hygiene, Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has officially inaugurated the 2023 Public Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (PWASH) Program. The initiative, which seeks to eradicate open defecation across the state, was launched in an event held at the Iloffa Secretariat of Oke-Ero Local Government Area.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Elder Kayode Alabi, who was accompanied by the State Commissioner for Water Resources, Hon. Usman Yunusa Lade, the state government called on traditional rulers, community leaders, and other stakeholders to collaborate in putting an end to open defecation in Kwara State.
During the event, Alabi emphasized the importance of addressing open defecation not only as a matter of sanitation but also as a crucial public health, dignity, and human rights issue. He stressed the necessity of collective action and urged all stakeholders to support the government’s vision for a cleaner and healthier Kwara State.
“Open defecation is not just a matter of sanitation; it’s a matter of public health, dignity, and human rights. It is a challenge that we must confront head-on. In our pursuit of a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous Kwara State, this stakeholder engagement meeting is a pivotal step forward,” Alabi said. He also assured the public of the state government’s commitment to provide the necessary resources, support, and policies to make this vision a reality.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs. Christiana Omolola Asonibare, commended the organizers of the program for creating an enabling environment to engage critical stakeholders and sensitize the public effectively. She called on traditional rulers, community leaders, and Transition Implementation Chairmen (TIC) of local government areas to help educate and enlighten the grassroots population to ensure the success of the initiative.
Engr. Gbenga Victor Yusuf, the Transition Implementation Chairman of Oke-Ero Local Government Area, shared alarming statistics, stating that 48 million Nigerians are still practicing open defecation, and 95 million lack access to basic sanitation services in the country. He pledged to organize a similar campaign program for his local government as a means of reaching out to the grassroots.
The General Manager of the State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), Ilorin, Mr. Olorunfemi Oladipo Adewumi, highlighted the severity of open defecation as a public health issue, not only in Kwara State but worldwide. He emphasized the current administration’s commitment to eradicating open defecation and providing safe and clean water supply, calling water provision a fundamental human right at the core of the administration’s mandate. Mr. Adewumi pledged to extend the campaign to other parts of the state to raise awareness and sensitize the population.
With the launch of the 2023 PWASH Program, Kwara State is taking a significant step toward achieving improved public health and hygiene by addressing the pressing issue of open defecation. The collaborative efforts of government officials, traditional leaders, and community stakeholders are expected to play a crucial role in realizing this ambitious vision.