In an effort to enhance the average life expectancy, Clean-up Nigeria (CUN), a non-governmental organization, has issued a call to action for all stakeholders to adopt better sanitation habits in the country so that people can live longer. Mr. Ene Baba Owoh, the National Coordinator of CUN, discussed this matter in Abuja, following the public unveiling of the State of the Nigeria Environment report titled Stone Pro-Max 2023 in Akwa Ibom. STONE 2023 PRO-MAX stands as an annual survey of Nigeria ecological landscape, organized jointly with select global collaborators, to shed light on the nation’s environmental status.
The urgent need to enhance hygiene and sanitation practices in Nigeria remains a pressing concern for the organization. It suggests that individuals, communities, and government bodies should proactively prioritize their interests by actively boosting their understanding, mindset, and implementation of hygiene practices. By doing so, they can significantly upgrade living conditions and ultimately elevate the average life expectancy across Nigeria. Notably, life expectancy in Nigeria has dropped over the years from 44 years in 2018 to a mere 40 years, owing to a diverse range of factors.
Open defecation has dropped from 32% in 2018 to 24% in 2023.
Nigerians are encouraged to prioritize the adoption of proper personal hygiene practices and effective sanitation habits while ensuring the appropriate disposal of waste. Baba-Owoh suggests that state and local government bodies increase their funding for waste management and sanitation by a minimum of 200 percent, considering the current value of the naira. In light of the unhygienic environments that sanitation workers face, it is essential for employers to enhance their living conditions and pay scales. Additionally, these workers must be provided with appropriate Medicare and equipped with personal protection equipment (PPE).
Sanitation workers’ living conditions experienced a rise from 22 percent in 2018 to 26 percent in 2023, while the informal sector involved in waste recycling and reuse witnessed an increase from 31 percent to 37 percent during the same period. He stated that the prevalence of open defecation has declined between 2018 to 2023, dropping from 32% to 24%. This positive shift is a direct result of a comprehensive nationwide awareness campaign conducted by the government at both federal and state levels, along with collaborations with non-governmental organizations and private sectors
It is crucial to take steps to addressing environmental issues.
Over the years, CUN has maintained its position as a leading Global NGO, actively participating in social and economic dialogues with the UN. Notably, the annual State of the Nigeria Environment (STONE) study report, developed in partnership with its international project collaborators, encompasses an essential evaluation of the cleanliness performance index ratings of all Nigerian states and towns. Under the STONE Pro Max 2023 initiative, the government and citizens of Akwa Ibom was praised by Baba-Owoh for their commendable achievement of being crowned the cleanest state in Nigeria for five consecutive years.
Akwa Ibom’s merged score stood at an impressive 72 percent, outperforming Ebonyi (50 percent) and FCT (47 percent) which secured the second and third positions respectively. Baba-Owoh further stated that it is crucial for Nigeria to take proactive steps towards addressing environmental issues, as emphasized during the recently concluded COP28. The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) based in Canada, Keep America Beautiful (KAB) from the USA, DSZ in Germany, the SUEZ Foundation in France, and Clean-Up the World in Australia were all acknowledged by the group with heartfelt appreciation.
There remains concern on inadequate sanitation among the populace.
According to Baba Owoh, during a different interview, he mentions that there has been a slight enhancement in the hygiene and sanitation practices of the nation. Over the course of the past six years, some governments in the country have observed a six percent increase in the acquisition of waste management tools. Yet, he said, there remains significant cause for concern regarding the inadequate sanitation and hygiene habits among the populace in 32 states and the FCT. Thus, he advocated for the revival of the monthly sanitation exercise, along with a strong emphasis on maintaining cleanliness of drainage to promote a healthier nation.