The Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Hussein, says 61 out of the 744 Local Government Areas in Nigeria are now open defecation free.
The minister made the disclosure on Thursday in Abakaliki during the inauguration of the National Youth Volunteer programme on Hand washing and Clean Nigeria Campaign.
Represented by Mrs Chizoba Opara, National Coordinator of the Clean Nigeria, Use the Toilet Campaign, the minister said that efforts should be intensified to check open defecation due to its health consequences.
“When this national programme was launched in 2019, only 16 out of the 744 LGAs were free from open defecation but the figure has risen to 61.
“The National Youth Volunteer Programme on Hand Washing and Clean Nigeria Initiative, therefore provides a platform for us to produce a healthy society and a buoyant economy,” he said.
He said that 100 youths from each LGA in the country had been selected and would be trained to propagate the message of hand washing and clean environment.
“This community sensitisation on hand washing would last for three months as this health practice is the most effective and less expensive way of preventing various diseases.
“The federal government through the ministry of water resources has supported states through construction of 495 bore holes to improve access to water for improved hygiene,” he said.
He commended the Ebonyi government for launching the programme and called for its immediate implementation across the LGAs of the state.
“46 million people across the country still practise open defecation, while 58 per cent of Ebonyi people are engaged in such unhealthy act,” he said.
Gov. David Umahi, represented by Dr Kenneth Ugbala, Secretary to the State Government, urged traditional rulers, town unions among others to work intensively to ensure the success of the programme.
“The state government will duly empower the 1,300 youths selected across the 13 LGAs for this programme, to effectively propagate the clean environment message to the grassroots.
“We are not happy with the high rating of Ebonyi in open defecation as the state remains one of the cleanest states in the country,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Water Resources, Mr Silas Eze, commended the federal government for initiating the programme saying it would assist the current fight against COVID 19.