30 LGAs yet to be certified ODF free in A’Ibom, says NGO

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By Odo Ogenyi/Mercy Kingsley, Uyo.

Project Director for IbomWASH+, Prof, Gabriel Umoh, has expressed concern that 30 out of the 31 Local Councils of Akwa Ibom are yet to attain Open Defecation Free,ODF, status.

Umoh who made this revelation while speaking at a 2-Day event to celebrate the 2023 World Water Day last weekend in Uyo, said only Nsit Atai, a rural council, has been certified ODF.

Sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Project Director maintained that the negative attitude of indiscriminate defecation need to be addressed with every seriousness and appropriate implementive measures to enhance ODF within the state

He said that available data has shown that about 80% of the state population lack access to clean water and toilet facilities while the state has only attained 11% Open Defecation Free status.

Umoh, who is also the CEO of African HumanProfessor Development Centre, AHDC, said that negligence of the water sector has exposed the population to danger of water-borne diseases and stressed the need for serious reforms to reposition the sector and tasked the state government on the need for more political will to bridge the gap through proper funding and strengthening of the state WASH policy.

“In spite of the efforts so far by government, our work in the state WASH sectors has shown that there still exists huge gap to be filled if the state must keep to the mission of the United Nations’ sustainable sanitation for all in 2030, as well as achieve the Executive Order 009 targeting ODF status in 2023.

“The budgetary allocation to WASH sector has been very low; WASH budget as a percentage of the state’s annual budget has remained less than one percent. The state is yet to have a clearer ODF roadmap and WASH policy.

“So we need an accelerated attitudinal change to be able to achieve Open Defecation Free (ODF) in the remaining thirty (30) Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State.”

In a remark state Commissioner for Lands and Water resources, Mr Iniobong Ekong stated that despite challenges the state has passed the Water Resource Bill into law, becoming the first state in the country to adopt the national version of the bill at the state level.

Ekong who was represented by a Director in the ministry, Mrs Assumpta Udousoro emphasized that the law would enhance the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal (6) for water resources within the state.

The commissioner who expressed sadness over the inability of most Local Councils in the state to achieve the ODF status however said that efforts are being made to rehabilitate broken down water facilities across the state, calling on stakeholders to do more in the area of sensitization.

“The Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Lands and Water Resources, is putting up modalities to revamp and rehabilitate dilapidated water facilities for adequate provision of potable water for its citizens.

“But the needed change could be achieved through information dissemination and education of the masses and especially children by introducing WASH as a subject in the school curriculum.” He said.

He commended the African Human Development Centre (AHDC) for it’s efforts to achieve Open Defecation Free (ODF) within the State as this has gone a long way to prevent the outbreak of infections and loss of manpower.

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