By Emmanuel Afonne
About 1,000 students from University of Abuja have been commissioned by Toilet Kulture Initiative, an NGO, to propagate the message of water sanitation and hygiene within the Federal Capital Territory.
Mrs Elsie Ozika, Executive Director of the Initiative, inaugurated the students as part of activities to commemorate the 2019 World Menstrual Hygiene Day.
She said that the ambassadors would be the voice of the Initiative within and outside Abuja.
Ozika who charged the ambassadors to bring the issues of menstrual hygiene and good toilet culture to the front burner, however, noted that water and hygiene must go hand-in-hand for cleanliness to be achieved.
“We chose UniAbuja because our programmes is targeted at toilet facilities in public institutions and schools comes under what we do, and because I schooled here, I understand the sanitation and hygiene problems around the campus.
“So I am here to talk about all these issues, so we can see how we can have good sanitation facilities especially as it concerns toilet.
“UniAbuja is a pilot scheme for what we are doing; we are raising about 1,000 students to stand like a voice to speak about water sanitation and hygiene and then consolidate on what we have done here to see that our mission has an impact.
“Once that impact is achieved, we will take it to other universities in Nigeria because the problem is everywhere, not just UniAbuja,” Ozika said.
She commended the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for the support given to them to ensure they succeed in their campaign for change in toilet culture which she said had a lot to do with water.
Kelvin Fineface, member board of trustee, of the Initiative, urged government to make water readily available for the people as part of its obligation to the citizens.
Fineface said that while government provides the water, people should be enlightened to understand the need to do things right when using the toilet.
“And we are taking into cognisance menstrual circle hygiene; women must manage themselves properly.
“We are concentrating on the youths because they are the future and if we begin to inculcate the right values into them now, by the time they become adults, they will do the right thing.
“The ripple effect is huge when the menstrual pads are not disposed appropriately; like they say `yahoo yahoo’ boys cash in on it.
“So, how do you do it so you don’t get into difficult situation and at the same time have a healthy society, that is what we are talking about and that is what we want to achieve,” Fineface said.
Dr Nicholas Igwe, Managing Director, Zenith Water Projects Ltd, who was a guest at the event, said the organisation donated a waterless waste to wealth toilets to University of Abuja to help improve hygiene and water sanitation on the campus.
“Our model of toilets separates urine from fecal sludge, the urine will be used as liquid fertilizer while the fecal sludge will be dried using our dewatering plant into organic manure,” Igwe said.
Mrs Juliet Iordye, Senior Hydro Geologist, who represented the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, said a lot have been done by the ministry in addressing the issues relating to water sanitation and hygiene.
She listed some of the ministry’s programmes to include the developed strategy documents to make Nigeria open defecation free by 2015; national hygiene promotion strategy and its related guidelines as well as the Partnership for Expanded Water Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH).