The need to re­vive com­pul­sory san­i­ta­tion ex­er­cise

Daily Trust - - ENVIRONMENT - By Chidimma C. Okeke

San­i­tary con­di­tions in most ur­ban ci­ties and ru­ral ar­eas have de­te­ri­o­rated due to un­sus­tain­able hygienic mea­sures. It is for this rea­son that ex­perts have tasked local gov­ern­ment author­i­ties, in­sti­tu­tions, agen­cies and stake­hold­ers to pay more at­ten­tion to the is­sue of san­i­ta­tion in their sur­round­ings.

Sus­tain­able waste man­age­ment, a pre­cur­sor to good san­i­ta­tion, is still a mi­rage be­cause the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is yet to start the con­ver­sion of Nige­ria’s in­dus­trial, mu­nic­i­pal and do­mes­tic waste to wealth.

Some stake­hold­ers have iden­ti­fied re­vival of the com­pul­sory monthly san­i­ta­tion ex­er­cise, where peo­ple are made to clean their en­vi­ron­ment on a par­tic­u­lar day of the month, as a step to­wards achiev­ing a bet­ter and cleaner en­vi­ron­ment in the mar­kets, streets and homes.

Dur­ing Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari’s first stint in gover­nance as a mil­i­tary head of state, he in­sti­tuted the manda­tory monthly en­vi­ron­men­tal san­i­ta­tion ex­er­cise which took place from 7.00a.m. to 10.00a.m. on ev­ery last Satur­day of the month.

En­vi­ron­men­tal san­i­ta­tions, ac­cord­ing to WHO are ef­forts or ac­tiv­i­ties aimed at main­tain­ing a clean, safe and pleasant phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment through wa­ter sup­ply, exc­reta and sewage dis­posal, solid waste dis­posal, and en­sur­ing the safety of the en­vi­ron­ment in all hu­man set­tle­ments to­wards the pro­mo­tion of so­cial, eco­nomic and phys­i­cal well-be­ing of all sec­tions of the pop­u­la­tion.

Some res­i­dents who spoke to Daily Trust said the ex­er­cise, which many clam­our for its re­turn, is presently be­ing adopted in states like La­gos and Edo and that it may go a long way in en­sur­ing a cleaner en­vi­ron­ment if adopted na­tion­wide.

Sule Ojonugwa,an ed­u­ca­tion­ist, said when the ex­er­cise was in place, there were no in­dis­crim­i­nate refuse dumps on streets as it is now, saying peo­ple were mind­ful of where they dump their wastes be­cause they are re­spon­si­ble for the clean­ing of the en­vi­ron­ment.

He said if the fed­eral gov­ern­ment could adopt the ex­er­cise even if it is on two or three hours ba­sis on a set day, the en­vi­ron­ment will look much cleaner and health­ier.

A trader in Jik­woyi, Hy­acinth Og­bu­lonu, said though the ex­er­cise is not be­ing cher­ished by lots of traders be­cause it is con­sid­ered half day for them, it will be a good one in check­ing peo­ple’s at­ti­tude to­wards waste dis­posal and cleanup.

Og­bu­lonu noted that he takes out time to clear the gut­ter around his shop, which also mo­ti­vates his neighbours to do same, and at the end they all get the place cleared.

“The ex­er­cise can be re­vived and strict mea­sures im­posed with­out re­stric­tion of move­ment, but the truth re­mains that it will be more ef­fec­tive if move­ments are re­stricted,” he said.

An­other trader, who sim­ply gave her name as Jane, said if gov­ern­ment can bring back the ex­er­cise, it will be good be­cause peo­ple will be on ground to help gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials clean the en­vi­ron­ment.

The Co­or­di­nant-Gen­eral of En­vi­ron­men­tal Ethics & Safety Corps (ESCORP), Mr. Emenike Eme, told Daily Trust that the corps would al­ways stand for the en­force­ment of com­pul­sory san­i­ta­tion ex­er­cise na­tion­wide.

Eme noted that it is in the hu­man na­ture for peo­ple not to do what is ex­pected rather they do that which they know will be in­spected.

“If we know this and we don’t want to en­force monthly or reg­u­lar san­i­ta­tion ex­er­cise, we are not help­ing our­selves be­cause if we don’t bring it back, dis­eases and in­fec­tions will con­tinue to in­crease in our coun­try,” he said.

He pointed out that there is high re­sis­tant malaria caused by mos­quito bite, saying “with dirty en­vi­ron­ment, we will have more than mos­qui­toes bite and then we will waste money at­tempt­ing to cure.”

All right think­ing per­sons ac­cord­ing to the co­or­di­nate Gen­eral, no mat­ter their sta­tus in life or what ex­cuse they have, should con­sider the in­ter­est of the masses more im­por­tant than any other thing.

“Let us help our­selves and bring back the monthly com­pul­sory san­i­ta­tion ex­er­cise,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port tagged ‘Con­cep­tual Mod­el­ling of Res­i­dents’ En­vi­ron­men­tal San­i­ta­tion Be­hav­iour in a Nige­rian Metropo­lis’ by a lec­turer with the Obafemi Awolowo Univer­sity, Ile-Ife, Olu­wole Daramola, the ma­jor de­ter­mi­nant of res­i­dents’ en­vi­ron­men­tal san­i­ta­tion be­hav­iour was the man­dated en­vi­ron­men­tal san­i­ta­tion ex­er­cise.

Daramola said de­spite the positive con­tri­bu­tions of the monthly en­vi­ron­men­tal san­i­ta­tion ex­er­cise, res­i­dents need to know the im­por­tance of daily en­vi­ron­men­tal san­i­ta­tion ex­er­cise, es­pe­cially at the house­hold and neigh­bour­hood lev­els.

De­spite the calls, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is yet to make a state­ment on whether the pol­icy will be re­vived or not, but there are feel­ers that work is in progress on the is­sue of san­i­ta­tion.

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