By Our Reporter
Artisans in Nigeria have resorted to localization of toilet technologies to increase access to improved toilets within their communities at affordable rates as a means to end open defecation.
The artisans, including masons and fabricators are among those that have been trained by resource experts under the various water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions across the country through the support of international development agencies like WaterAid, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Using locally available materials, they have been able to recreate imported brands of toilets and their parts. This has created easy access to improved toilets for households in their communities, leading to the declaration of some Local Government Areas as Open Defecation Free.
In Benue, in North Central Nigeria, Zanfara, North Western Nigeria, Cross River in Southern Nigeria and a few other states, these artisans are also turning this to business opportunities.
To strengthen Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) water, sanitation and hygiene interventions, UNICEF launched a sanitation marketing and financing pilot project in 2016 under the DFID-funded Sanitation, Hygiene Water Supply in Nigeria (SHAWN) project with the aim of strengthening supply chains and connect entrepreneurs to communities and households. This approach has been domiciled across 60 Local Government Areas leading to the creation of 600 Toilet Business Owners (TBOs) and the construction of 12,423 improved toilets.
In Benue State, the artisans have found clay as a perfect replacement for ceramics as the material used in the production of water retention chambers of WC toilets. The local fabricators have also been able to use locally available materials to create free flush squatting pan that would require just little quantity of water to flush after usage. This has afforded more household the opportunity of building improved toilets in place of the pit latrine that was the most common type of toilet used in the past.
So far, the adoption and adaptation to local versions of improved toilets has led to the certification of three LGAs in Benue (Oju, Ogbadibo and Konshisha) as Open Defecation Free.
Results from a recent survey have revealed that Nigeria is making progress in improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The survey highlighted a slight reduction in the number of people defecating in the open, moving from 47 million in 2018 to 46 million people in 2019. It also showed that the number of people using basic sanitation services has increased by 6.6 million people, a progress mostly driven by a rise in the number of people upgrading their current toilets to improved private toilets within their homes.
However, the problem still lingers as the report, released by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Water Resources and UNICEF, showed that one-third of Nigeria’s population drinks contaminated water at home while 46 million people are still practicing open defecation.
At least 167 million homes do not have access to handwashing facilities – especially worrying in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, with handwashing being a critical infection prevention practice.