Yakurr local government area of Cross River State has attained the open defecation free (ODF) status under the Federal Government, European Union and United Nations Children’s Fund Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme (WSSSRP) I and II.
This would make it the third local government to achieve this status in the state, and Cross River the only state in Nigeria with three ODF local government areas.
Speaking at the official celebration of the attainment of the status in Ugep, Yakurr, yesterday, Chief of UNICEF Field Office, Enugu, Dr Ibrahim Conteh, expressed appreciation Governor Ben Ayade for sustaining the cordial relationship between them in supporting and providing access to water and sanitation for the women and children of the State.
He said having attained ODF, all and sundry should ensure sustainability of the status through provision of enabling conditions by the government, physical sustainability, making sure the toilets are of quality and also social and behavioral sustainability they progress towards the ultimate which is total sanitation.
“Today marks another turning point in the history of Cross River State as the only State in Nigeria with three Open defecation Free (ODF) LGAs. These are Obanliku, Yakurr and Bekwara, hopefully within the next couple of weeks Boki LGA would be declared ODF. UNICEF partnership with Cross River State dated back several years, under the Water Supply Sanitation Sector Reform Programme (WSSSRP).
“The implementation of WSSSRP I & II started in 2006 in five LGAs of Cross River State, namely Yakurr, Boki, Odukpani, Obubura and Etung with Yakurr and Boki being focus for the second phase of the programme. The overall objective of the programme is to improve health and livelihoods in rural communities through provision of sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene service delivery to reduce poverty and disease burden.
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“One of the most promising approaches in sanitation in the last decades has been Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS). Community-led total sanitation (CLTS) is a participatory approach that aims to achieve and sustain an open defecation free (ODF) status at the community level. CLTS employs participatory rural appraisal and is based on the belief that the learning effect is much higher if the knowledge is acquired through self-experience and self-reflection. The approach facilitates the critical analysis by the community of their own sanitation-profile, inappropriate defecation practices and the consequences, leading to collective action to become ODF. It is a community-based and -led strategy that triggers community empowerment via feelings like shame and disgust induced through observation of the defecation situation in a specific setting and its environment, which is much harder to address by health education.
He said since 2008, Yakurr LGA’s performance has been outstanding, as demonstrated a very high level of compliance to the CLTS core principle of STOPPING OPEN DEFECATION through construction and use of house hold latrines with hand washing facilities.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Specialist, UNICEF A Field Office, Mr Amose Kudzala, said it was a significant landmark for the local government area.
He said under the WSSSRP programme Yakurr was the first to achieve the status.
He said 239 communities in Yakurr had achieved ODF.
He said they were presently working in two LGAs, Yakurr and Boki, but intend to expand to four more.
Minister of Water Resources, Engr Suleman Adamu, who was represented by Dr Musa Ibrahim, said about 47 million people in the country are practicing open defecation making it the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.
He said the Federal Government over the years have ensured the implementation and access to water supply across the country, but there was need for a corresponding effort in sanitation and hygiene.
He said there was need to do more to achieve ODF across the country.
Cross River State Governor, Prof Ben Ayade, said the state was committed to improving the health of its people.
Represented by his deputy, Prof Ivara Esu, he said it was a great feat to achieve three ODF local government areas in the state.
He pledged the state governments’ commitment to the programme.