Nigeria is investing heavily into implementing creative solutions to improve sanitation access nationwide
Sanitation is essential to the health, wealth and well-being of any country. Nigeria has a huge population and extremely rapid rural–urban migration. Economic development and urban planning have somewhat kept pace with the sheer volumes of people arriving – and being born – every day in its towns and cities. While Nigeria has come a long way in terms of developing its economy, in terms of sanitation, there’s still a lot to do. The need for sanitation solutions in Nigeria has inspired some rather creative ways the country is dealing with sanitation. From community-led sanitation programs to dignified mobile toilets, Nigeria is doing its best to improve access to sanitation.
As far as urban sanitation access goes, the numbers have improved in recent times. Currently, the total number of new people gaining access to sanitation in Nigeria is 0.7 million. However, a massive 14 million people extra per year must gain access in order to reach the 2030 target of everyone, everywhere. Nigeria needs to measure up to its status as Africa’s giant and finance its infrastructure accordingly. With only 14 years to achieve the UN goals, there’s no time to waste. Nigeria has made substantial progress in developing policies and strategies for water supply and sanitation service delivery.
In 2015, 67% of the total population had access to “at least basic water supply”. This was 82% of the urban population and 54% of the rural population. In 2015, around 60 million people lacked access to “at least basic” water. As for sanitation, 33% of the total population had access to “at least basic” sanitation. This was 39% of the urban population and 27% of the rural population. In urban areas, access to standpipes substituted to a large extent to piped water access.
National policies and initiatives
Nigeria’s National Water Supply and Sanitation Policy, approved in 2000, encourages private-sector participation and envisages institutional and policy reforms at the state level. However, little has happened in both respects. As of 2007, only four of the 37 states – Lagos, Cross River, Kaduna and Ogun States – began to introduce public-private partnerships (PPP) in the form of service contracts, a form of PPP where the responsibility of the private sector is limited to operating infrastructure without performance incentives.
In 2011 the government voted in the United Nations in favor of a resolution making water and sanitation a human right. However, it has not passed legislation to enshrine the human right to water and sanitation in national law. The country is not on track to reach the Millennium Development Goal for water and sanitation.
Since 2008 community-led total sanitation has been introduced in six states, with the support of UNICEF and the EU. While not being a national policy, apparently this grass-roots initiative has met with some success. More than 17,000 latrines have been built in 836 communities, and more than 100 of these communities have attained the goal of being declared free of open defecation.
Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)
Past approaches in implementing sanitation and hygiene programmes such as subsidy based promotional slabs, sani-centre operations, hand washing campaigns, among others, yielded little results in enhancing the national sanitation coverage. The shortcomings of these approaches led to the adoption of approaches such as Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and WASH in Schools to scale up access to improved sanitation and hygiene in the country.
CLTS and its adaptations were piloted in Nigeria from 2004 to 2007 in several communities. The pilot interventions were carried out by several organizations such as UNICEF, WaterAid, State and Local governments in collaboration with the National Task Group on Sanitation. Based on the outcome, CLTS was adopted as a major approach for rural sanitation development in the government approved Strategy for Scaling up Sanitation and Hygiene to meet the MDGs in Nigeria (2007). The scaling up of CLTS in most states effectively commenced in 2008 coinciding with the International Year of Sanitation.
Major institutions supporting CLTS implementation in the country are: the National Task Group on Sanitation (NTGS), National Water Resources Institute, the State Task Group on Sanitation (STGS), the State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agencies (RUWASSA), the Local Government Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Departments or Units, the Community Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committees (WASHCOMs) and many Community Based Organizations. 28 States have established Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agencies; 24 States have LGA WASH Units while 7 States have WASH Departments.
The NTGS was established in 2002 under the direction of the Department of Water Quality Control and Sanitation of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources as a coordinating body and a national platform for the promotion of sanitation and hygiene in the country. Members are drawn from relevant Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (Education, Environment, Health, Housing and Urban Development, Water Resources, Women Affairs, NAFDAC, NPHCDA, NPC); Development Partners (UNICEF, DFID, JICA, World Bank, EU); CSOs (NEWSAN, Youth WASH, WASH Media Network); and the Private Sector (Unilever). The Group meets regularly; and facilitates as well as participates in national and international events on sanitation and hygiene.
There have been increased levels of subscriptions from governments at national and sub-national levels. The Federal Ministry of Water Resources is providing the required leadership in the promotion and advocacy for CLTS in the country in collaboration with other members of the NTGS for more funding from States and Local Governments to scale up CLTS implementation in the country.
Over the years and with all the 36 states and FCT now implementing CLTS at different scales, close to 10,000 personnel at Local, State and Federal levels have undergone training or re-training on the approach. Also the capacity of over 10,000 Natural Leaders (NLs), Voluntary Hygiene Promoters (VHPs) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committees (WASHCOMs) had been built at the community level across the country. Some Natural Leaders are also engaged as Community Consultants to facilitate CLTS promotion in neighbouring communities.
With the support of UNICEF, a Guideline for certification of ODF communities was developed and is being applied in all the states implementing CLTS. The certification process involves the participation of WASHCOMs at the community level, WASH Departments/Units at the Local Government level and; RUWASSA and STGS at the State level. Based on field observations, the Guideline was reviewed to increase the effectiveness of the certification process.
Third Party Certification
The acceptance of CLTS in the country led to many communities claiming ODF status which requires certification. The NTGS, with the support of UNICEF, introduced the third party certification and validation process which involves an independent body supporting the certification institution i.e the STGS, in the certification process. This is followed by Third party validation: an independent body spot-checks and visits 10% of the total certified ODF communities in a State. This system was designed to instill credibility and transparency in the implementation and certification process. It also enhances the efficiency of triggering process, sustainability of communities’ ODF status and lower slippage rate. Other innovations introduced into CLTS implementation include the Hygiene Improvement Framework (HIF) aimed at reducing high risk hygiene practices; development of technology options to address problem of difficult terrains e.g Ecosan and sanitation marketing to cater for the increased demand for sanitation services.
As of August 2014, over 20,000 communities in 301 LGAs in 36 States are implementing CLTS. More than 12,000 communities have attained ODF with over 3,000 of them certified. Also 66 out of the 410 communities claiming total sanitation status have been certified as totally sanitized communities. An additional 894,998 latrines have also been built across the CLTS communities out of which 317,252 are improved technology options. However, efforts are being made to integrate CLTS data into the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Information Management System (WASHIMS), a real time database being developed with support from UNICEF. As of June 2015, data from 48 LGAs populated on the WASHIMS showed that 9,962 communities have been triggered, of which 4,255 are certified ODF and 1,864 are claiming ODF status. A national CLTS Training Manual is being finalized as a guide for the development of skilled trainers and facilitators for CLTS implementation.
In less than six years, almost 90 per cent of Bakori’s communities have now been certified Open Defecation Free (ODF). This also means that residents practise handwashing and have access to safe water through the installation of new water points. “CLTS is something that I am most proud of. It’s doing really well, you can really see a difference in the communities – diarrhoea and vomiting have decreased drastically in the last few years. When I visit the ODF communities, this is one of the first things they always tell me.”
As behaviour change is a long-term process, Ward Health Officers visit communities every few weeks to check on their progress. Reports are then carefully vetted by Zainabu’s team. “I really keep track of what’s happening at the community level – I know all the communities and I’m lucky because I know I have a great team who are supporting them.”
Dignified Mobile Toilets – Startup Success Story
Popularly known by his friends as ‘Otunba Gaddafi’, Isaac Agbetusin trained as a Graphic artist and worked as a security professional before he decided to get into the ‘toilet business’ in 1996.
His inspiration came while he was making arrangements for a friend’s wedding party which would have over 10,000 guests in attendance.
How would these people answer nature’s call after all the eating and drinking?
After searching for nearly four weeks, he couldn’t find any company that provides mobile toilet facilities for parties and public events. That’s when he decided to start his own mobile toilet company, Dignified Mobile Toilets, popularly known by its acronym – DMT. To date, his company has manufactured over 3,000 mobile private toilets. It produces about 200 units every month for sale and for hire across Nigeria and in the West Africa region.
DMT has also spread beyond Lagos (where it started) to over 20 cities in Nigeria and is present in seven countries in West Africa.
Popular for his favourite tagline ‘Shit Business is Serious Business’; Otunba Gaddafi has given a professional face to human waste disposal. By working with widows and unemployed youths in several parts of the city, his company gives out these private toilet units on hire.
Because they often do not have the capital to pay for the units, these widows and youths pay a fixed amount to the company every month over a two-year period after which they become full owners of a thriving mobile toilet business!
And how much does it cost any regular person to use these mobile toilets? For only 20 Naira (about 10 US cents) anyone with an urge to answer nature’s call can use these toilets rather than pollute the environment!
It’s a cheap and convenient option for anyone who is caught in the hustle of Lagos busy streets and markets.
The company also rents out mobile toilet units for private parties, weddings, trade fairs, conventions and all kinds of events.
In a bid to consolidate the successes of this brilliant business, DMT is currently planning to build a biogas production plant which will convert all the human waste it collects from across the city into gas that will be used to generate electricity.
If this is achieved, it would be one of the greatest and few attempts by any African entrepreneur to produce sustainable energy from human waste.
The company has also been approached by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to work on projects that will provide easy access to decent toilet facilities which will help to improve personal hygiene and fight endemic diseases such as polio and malaria.
© 2016 Sulabh Swachh Bharat. All Right Reserved