Nigeria played host to the World Toilet Summit for the first time, with the country’s leading toilet cleaning solution, Harpic, manufactured by Reckitt Nigeria, partnering with the Federal Government and Organized Private Sector in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (OPS-WASH) to reinforce and reiterate the need to maintain clean toilets and end open defecation.
The event was organized to drive global interventions towards improved sanitation exercises and reinforce awareness on the issue of open defecation and low investment in the sanitation value chain which has greatly reduced the African Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the years.
The summit, which was held in Abuja had stakeholder leaders in attendance including the President of Nigeria, represented by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Honourable Ministers from relevant Ministries, and developmental agencies like UNICEF and WaterAid.’
During a panel discussion on the topic, “Partners Perspective on Sanitation Innovations for Economic Development”, Marketing Director, Reckitt Sub Saharan Africa, Tanzim Rezwan suggested that Nigeria can convert the challenge of Open defecation into an opportunity and make it an enabler. He said “The critical factor is to have everyone across the sanitation sector working together in synergy to achieve the common goal and collectively facilitate the process of bringing it to fruition.
He further said “We are working with the government in every way we can to achieve zero open defecation in Nigeria. As part of our agenda to continuously drive innovative ideas that will ensure more people have access to clean toilets, we recently introduced a new product, the Harpic Sachet, which has now made it possible for the masses to have access to a clean toilet with just N30. We will also continue to drive the awareness and education through our TV and digital communications as well as community programs he concluded.”
In his address, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo noted that globally, an estimated two-thirds of people who lack basic access to sanitation services live in rural areas, nearly half of them in Sub-Saharan Africa while 92 percent of the world’s population practicing open defecation live in these areas.
Explaining the government’s efforts in the area of sanitation and hygiene, Osinbajo said, “As a government, we have consistently affirmed our commitment to the development of the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector, and have demonstrated our aspirations through the many initiatives we have championed, including a coordination platform for private sector organizations working in the wash sector known as the Organized Private Sector in Wash (OPS-WASH) to ensure effective coordination of private sector interventions.”
Harpic has been enhancing the toilet experience and championing proper toilet hygiene in Nigeria, driving awareness of appropriate toilet usage and hygiene through household engagement and community sensitization. The brand has donated over 100 toilet units and refurbished over 10 public toilets in Lagos State since 2016.
Also speaking at the summit, the founder of the World Toilet Organization, Professor Jack Sim expressed concern that “over 2 million Children and people die of diarrhea every year. ” It is serious that open defecation is unspoken everywhere and the standard of living of people cannot be improved if the challenge of open defecation is not discussed”. The founder, therefore, urged the world to feel free to talk about toilet usage. “Feel free to talk about toilets, it is normal. Sim said.