UNICEF, Cross River intensify efforts to make Yakurr open defecation free

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Cross River State government have intensified efforts to make Yakurr Local Council Open Defecation Free (ODF) by the last quarter of 2016.

Defecating in the open or open defecation has been associated with the rise in water and food borne diseases such as diarhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever and food poisoning.

As part of efforts to stop the menace, the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions of Federal Government of Nigeria with the robust support of donor giants, UNICEF and European Union, under the Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme (WSSSRP) have the rural, small town and urban components.

UNICEF implements the rural component with Local Government Area (LGA) WASH Units and Departments as implementing partners.

Thus, in pursuance of the programme log frame and deliverables which summarily are to ensure and promote access to sustainable safe water; ensure and promote access to safe excreta disposal; and ensure and promote access to safe hygiene practices, UNICEF recently supported Yakurr LGA in Cross River State to conduct 2016 First Quarter WASH Clinic and WASH Committee (WASHCOM) Federation Orientation which were delayed because of communal crises.

UNICEF State WASH Consultant, Mr. James Beetseh, who represented UNICEF Enugu Field Office, in his goodwill message, enjoined the communities and LGA to put a stop to communal crises and give peace a chance for sustainable development.

While the WASH Clinic is a review and progress meeting by the WASH Department and community and ward level WASHCOMs and other major stakeholders at the community and LGA level, the WASHCOM Federation Orientation was conducted to sensitize the LGA level WASHCOM Federation to their roles and responsibilities, standard operating procedures (SOP) and emergent cross-cutting issues in WASH programing, such as the Expanded Guidelines of WASHCOM Formation and collaboration with Primary Health Care and Education Departments and churches for promotion of birth registration, birth certificate, child immunization, vitamin A supplement, ante-natal care, exclusive breastfeeding and girl-child education for child survival and development (CSD).

At the end of the activities, action points and community action plans (CAPs) were developed and agreed for implementation toward the epochal community led total sanitation (CLTS) driven celebration of Yakurr LGA wide Open Defecation Free (ODF) status.

Prominent among the action points are continuous CLTS monitoring of ODF communities with the Small Immediate Doable Action (SIDA) concept for strengthening and sustainability objective; construction and use of the local innovative Tippy Tap strategy for hand washing at critical times in every household, community, ward, school, health center and other public places; community enforcement of CLTS with ODF and monthly environmental sanitation byelaws; ensure provision and use of all household, institutional and public latrines with ventilated drop-hole covers; restructure and strengthen community WASHCOMs.

Others are to ensure and promote access and functionality of WASH facilities in communities, institutions and public places; mobilize and sensitize communities and WASHCOMs to Leboku Festival Sanitation contest and award; mobilize and sensitize communities to the monitoring visit of Third Party ODF Monitoring Team and mobilize and sensitize communities to ODF celebration in the last quarter of 2016; build synergy and partnership with line departments and other CBOs in pursuance of the Expanded Guidelines on WASHCOM Formation.

Also, there is need to mobilize and sensitize communities to good conflict management using Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism (ADRM) for peaceful coexistence, security of lives and property including WASH facilities and to reap optimally the benefits in the virtuous cycle of peace and development.

According to the WASH Coordinator, Onun Omini Usani, “Yakurr’s march to ODF celebration has suffered some hiccups. The WASH Clinic and WASHCOM Federation orientation was, therefore, a wake- up call to all stakeholders in Yakurr WASH programme to dig in for a final onslaught against open defecation and for a final preparation toward Yakurr LGA wide ODF celebration.”

This view was corroborated by the UNICEF WASH Consultant and Facilitator in Yakurr LGA, Mr. Collins Chibuzo Njoku, who noted: “This is the time for sustainable efforts and activities to meet 2016 WASH Targets. He also noted that Yakurr LGA has benefitted so much from WSSSRP I and II, this is the set time for a strategic plan and actions to achieve results and major milestones including Yakurr ODF celebration toward child survival and development, gender equity and empowerment of women and girls and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially SDG 6 which is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation to the satisfaction of all stakeholders including donors. To whom much is given, much is also expected. Yakurr LGA CRS is on the march to ODF celebration! Join us!”

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