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Nigeria Marks 2024 National Environmental Sanitation Day

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The Minister of State for Environment, Dr. Iziaq Salako flanked by a cross section of stakeholders and school pupils during the commemoration of the 2024 National Environmental Sanitation Day in Abuja.

The Federal Ministry of Environment has called on all Nigerians to adopt eco-friendly practices, emphasising that environmental issues should be recognised as a humanitarian crisis that negatively impacts the socioeconomic welfare of citizens.

During the commemoration of the 2024 National Environmental Sanitation Day in Abuja on Wednesday, the Minister of State for Environment, Dr. Iziaq Salako expressed concerns about Nigeria’s adverse experience with climate change. He cited shifts in seasons, species distribution changes, rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, and heatwaves, all with undeniable health consequences. 

Salako noted that rising temperatures, humidity and rainfall have expanded the range of disease-carrying vectors like mosquitoes, increasing the spread and prevalence of diseases. Floods and other extreme weather events also damage infrastructure, hindering healthcare access for vulnerable populations like women, children, and the elderly. Additionally, flood-related displacement, livelihood loss and poor nutrition leave people susceptible to malnutrition and diseases like malaria, cholera and gastroenteritis.

Salako emphasised that the sub-theme “Go Greener, Stay Clean, Climate Change is Real” serves as a rallying cry to embrace environmental sustainability with urgency. He stressed that climate change should be recognised not just as an environmental issue but as a humanitarian crisis threatening the health, economies, and foundations of Nigerian society.

In her goodwill message, the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health, Ms. Kachollom Daju highlighted the need to maintain a healthy environment and reiterated the link between human health and environmental sanitation. She associated certain diseases, including incessant cholera outbreaks, with unclean environmental practices. Daju emphasised that the health of the environment is intrinsically linked to the health of the people, noting that poor environmental sanitation contributes to the spread of diseases, exacerbates the effects of climate change, and undermines efforts to achieve sustainable development. She stressed the importance of taking decisive steps to improve sanitation practices across all communities. “By going green and staying clean, we can create a healthier, safer, and more sustainable future for ourselves and for generations to come,” she said.

Representing the host community, HRH Chief Istifanus Shegaje, the Dakachi of Chika village, expressed appreciation for choosing the village as the venue for this important annual event. Shegaje highlighted the collective responsibility to protect and preserve the planet for present and future generations. He added that his community is committed to proper waste management and tree planting practices, which are essential for their well-being and critical in mitigating the effects of climate change. He urged participants to commit to sustainable, environmentally friendly practices, reduce carbon footprints, conserve natural resources, and ensure a safer, greener, and healthier lifestyle for both the present and posterity.

The annual event, held under the theme “Environmental Sanitation in the Era of Climate Change,” saw a huge turnout of participants from various government sectors, including the Federal Ministries of Environment, Health, Water Resources and the Energy Commission of Nigeria, as well as members of the international community, including the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The National Environmental Sanitation Day, commemorated on June 28 each year, was declared by then-President Olusegun Obasanjo in June 2005 at the launch of the National Environmental Sanitation Policy document. This annual commemoration, spearheaded by the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with key stakeholders, serves as a national advocacy platform that highlights the importance of sanitation and hygiene as tools for disease prevention and control and weapons in reducing the adverse effects of climate change.

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