Sanitation takes center stage at Africa’s biggest street party – Carnival Calabar

Date: 9th January 2019

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Cross River State, South-South Nigeria, has held an annual carnival every year for the past 12 years. Tagged, ‘Africa’s Biggest Street Party’, it brings together an average of 3 million people into Calabar every December. The 2018 Carnival Calabar took a different turn as sanitation and hygiene were at the center stage amidst the fun and entertainment. 

Messages about sanitation and hygiene were disseminated through handbills and fliers. Billboards and street lamp post also had key messages on them. Further, jingles and documentaries were shared over radio and TV.

With support from the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), programme actors, as the Cross River State Agency for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, the Agency for Primary Health Care and United Purpose, facilitated 100 volunteers, who took to the streets during the four main days of carnival activities including the street parades to promote the messages of Cross River State’s commitment to sanitation. 

As people gathered to watch the parades and the carnival floats, volunteers milled among them and shared fliers and handbills. These featured messages on sanitation and hygiene and a call to action for people to join the campaign to get Cross River State Open Defecation Free and enjoy the benefits of improved well-being.

More to that, three of the State’s FM radio stations aired jingles on the importance of improved sanitation in English and Pidgin, at least three times daily for over one week.  Leveraging on the state’s commitment to a clean and green environment, one of the key messages consistent on the radio was: ‘A Clean and Green Cross River State begins with ending open defecation’.

On the evening of the International carnival a feature of the Calabar Carnival where 27 international cultural troupes featured their cultural dances, the Governor and his wife were dressed in T-shirts bearing a Clean and Green Cross River State. During the evening, a brief documentary on the initiatives by the Cross River State government towards improved sanitation and hygiene as well as the march towards becoming Nigeria’s first Open Defecation Free State was featured.

In December 2018, the Cross River State government responded to a global call and made a commitment of USD $3 million annually towards improved sanitation and Hygiene for the next five years. The events of the Carnival Calabar in December 2018 were part of strengthening that commitment.

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