The Minister of Environment, Barr. Mohammed Abdullahi, has restated that environmental sanitation is imperative for socio-economic development, stressing that its impact on all the sustainable development goals cannot be overlooked, especially goal 6 – improved access to clean water and sanitation.
He made this assertion during the commemoration of the 2022 National Environmental Sanitation Day (NESD 2022) themed “A Clean Environment is a Healthy Environment: Get Involved” today (September 27, 2022) in Abuja.
Abdullahi said the proportion of people without sustainable access to basic sanitation in the recent analysis stated that less than half of the Nigerian population has access to improved sanitation facilities. In addition, many of our city centres, communities and households still battle with the problems of waste management.
According to him, the NESD is a national advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of sanitation and hygiene as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases, save lives and ensure effective and quality sanitation delivery services as well as meeting SDGs 3 and 6 by 2030.
The minister attributed poor sanitation as being responsible for a significant percentage of preventable communicable diseases particularly in developing countries including Nigeria. He stated that a large number of children die every year due to sanitation 2 and hygiene-enabled diseases, adding that more than 3.5 million children suffer from diarrheal diseases in Nigeria and this is no small figure. Children who are less than five years old are more prone to such diseases.
He posited that the advent of emerging and re-emerging diseases such as COVID-19, Lassa fever, monkeypox, cholera e.t.c in Nigeria has further underscored the fact that access to sanitation and hygiene is not only a fundamental human right that safeguards public health and human dignity but also an essential need when it comes to disease prevention.
According to him, this year’s NESD is call to individuals, communities, government at all levels e.t.c, to be involved in the planning and implementation of sanitation and hygiene activities within their immediate environment and community.
“Addressing sanitation and hygiene challenges in the country is a necessary and worthwhile investment for government at all levels. This is because for every N100 spent improving sanitation and hygiene, between N300 and N400 is saved which can be invested in health, education and social and economic development. Therefore, I want to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians, especially those in places of authority (public or private) to ensure adequate provision for sanitation and hygiene,” he added.
In his goodwill message, the head of the civil service of the federation, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan opined that a healthy environment at home, in our communities and at our workplaces promotes optimal physical, mental, emotional and social well-being.
He underscored the activities of the civil service to enhance a safe and sanitised workforce, stressing that a clean and healthy environment promotes an optimal work environment free of disease and injuries.
“The Office of the Head of Service is involved in ensuring a clean environment and we enjoin us all – as individuals and agencies – to continue to play our roles to achieve and maintain clean and healthy environments at home, at work and in our communities,” he added.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Environment, Engr. Hassan Musa said the theme of this year’s NESD is apt, as it tilts towards ensuring and sustaining sound sanitary practices among the citizenry and it also calls for genuine efforts to curtail the scourge of preventable communicable diseases attributed to unsound environmental sanitation and hygiene practices.
“The National Environmental Sanitation Day is one of the principal vehicles through which we create awareness and give a human face to environmental issues, empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development and promote an understanding that a healthy environment has tremendous implications on all aspects of human endeavour,” he added.