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The recently held Inter-Ministerial dialogue in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja is a significant moment as it highlighted the need for a harmonized national sanitation policy to end open defecation practiced by some 46 million of the country’s population. The meeting, held on October 31st, reaffirmed WSSCC’s partnership with the government and serves as a testimony to the multi-faceted benefits of improved sanitation and hygiene on health, education and gender empowerment in the country.
H.E. Eng. Suleiman Adamu, the Federal Minister of Water Resources, who hosted the inter-ministerial dialogue has called for the Federal Government to consider legislation against open defecation in the country.
The event, which was a follow up meeting from early this year, gathered ministers and directors from ministries responsible for health, environment education, finance, women affairs and social development, power and housing, and budget and national planning, who have all expressed their commitment to achieve an open defecation free Nigeria with equal access to sanitation for women and adolescent girls.
Related meetings with several governors unlocked state-level co-financing in areas supported by WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund, and laid plans for more robust civil society engagement on sanitation and hygiene.
As during the first inter-ministerial in February 2018, Executive Director Chris Williams led WSSCC’s representation, which included Steering Committee Co-Chair (and WASH Ambassador) Eng. Ebele Okeke and National Coordinator Priscilla Achapka.
MinisterAdamu noted the cross cutting role of the water, sanitation and hygiene sector and its impact on other sectors. This, he said, had made it imperative to foster a strong collaborative mechanism to address sanitation in the country.
“This meeting is a ‘pace setter’ that will go beyond any political administration and will ultimately help us to serve the citizens better,” he said.
Mr. Adamu and other ministers have called for an ‘umbrella sanitation strategy’ that would consolidate sanitation work across various ministries to help in collective expenditure and achieve the targets on sanitation and hygiene at scale.
Later in the day, the minister hosted a meeting of state governors where His Excellency, the Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, said that the people of his state had benefited from the sanitation and hygiene behaviour change programming funded by WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) and implemented by United Purpose.
In June 2014, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Government of Nigeria, the Cross River and Benue State Governments and WSSCC to match GSF’s funds and double the number of Local Governments Authorities covered by RUSHPIN. At the 31 October inter-ministerial, Dr. Ortom followed through on a commitment from last September and deposited thefirst tranche of counterpart funding (USD 150,000) to scale up the programming.
The Governors of Ondo and Sokoto states also expressed their interest in executing similar programmes (RUSHPIN) in their states, noting the successes in Obanliko LGA of Cross River in attaining Open Defecation Free status.
The day’s meetings concluded with a gathering involving WSSCC and NEWSAN, an important network of non-governmental organizations supported by WSSCC, working in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector in Nigeria.
In addition to the Executive Director, WSSCC staff taking part in the meetings included Ms. Unjela Kaleem, Head of External Affairs, Stakeholder Engagement, Communications and Country Support (ESCC), and Ms. Elizabeth Wamera, ESCC programme officer.
Click here to see Ms. Elizabeth Wamera’s report from the three meetings.
 The Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria programme, or RUSHPIN.