‘We will forever be grateful for these two toilets…open defecation will surely reduce in our community…’ the Seriki Hausawa of Idi- Araba Community, Alhaji Idris Lawal Haruna had noted just as another community leader, Alhaji Hassan Auyo excitedly acknowledged that ‘Our women and men; boys and girls in Idi-Araba community now have dignified toilets to use…’
The above comments captured the mood of participants at the 2015 World Toilet Day activities and the impact the two mobile toilets donated to Idi-Araba community would have on curbing open defecation in the community.
Organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos in collaboration with Harpic, a leading toilet cleaning brand from Reckitt Benckiser, the observance of the World Toilet Day which started with a neighbourhood sensitisation walk and ended with a community briefing session at Idi-Araba Community School complex reached a climax when two toilets donated by Reckitt Benckiser, a UNIC Lagos private sector partner, were handed over to the community.
The sensitisation road-walk was enlivened by traditional talking drums percussion and joined by youths in the community, NGO partners and media representatives, all clad in branded T-shirts and distributing fliers on toilet Hygiene and Sanitation to emphasise the need for better toilet hygiene practices.
Speaking on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Director of UNIC Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja noted that the observance of the World Toilet Day contributed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number six and therefore called on all stakeholders to renew their efforts in providing access to clean water and adequate sanitation worldwide. ‘We must continue to educate and protect communities at risk, and to change cultural perceptions and long-standing practices that hinder the quest for dignity’, he said further.
Mr Kayanja thanked the management of Reckitt Benckiser, leaders and members of Idi-Araba community for their support and the media for their commitment to public service. He added that ‘By working together, and by having an open and frank discussion on the importance of toilets and sanitation, we can improve the health and well-being of one-third of the human family.’
In his remarks, the Marketing Director, Reckitt Benckiser West Africa, Mr Oguzhan Silivrili said the enlightenment campaign for the World Toilet Day has become necessary because open defecation has a ripple effect to the larger society as it affects the healthy living conditions resulting in increased Child Mortality, Cholera, Diahoerria in addition to loss of dignity or risk of physical attack and sexual abuse. He observed that the aim of World Toilet Day is to raise awareness about people who do not have access to a toilet, despite the fact that it is a human right to have clean water and sanitation.
Speaking, the Category Manager Harpic, Ms Omotola Bamigbaiye-Elatuyi, urged the students and other youths at the event to ‘Stop open defecation, use a toilet’. This she stated, would reduce diseases in the community and sicknesses among its members.
Earlier, the National Information Officer of UNIC Lagos, Mr Oluseyi Soremekun introduced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the students and other participants in Yoruba Language while a Hausa translation was also delivered to widen the reach and deepen the understanding of the message.
Receiving the toilets on behalf of the youths in the community, the President of Idi-Araba Youth Development Association, Mallam Garba Ahmed Idris thanked the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos and Reckitt Benckiser, the manufacturer of Harpic toilet cleaning brand for the life-saving health and sanitation messages delivered to the community and more importantly, according to him, the two toilets donated for the use of the community.
The observance was put together by UNIC Lagos, Reckitt Benckiser and other NGOs which included Idi-Araba Youth Development Association, Loving Gaze and Female Muslim Doctors. The 2015 edition of the World Toilet Day, marked every 19 November, has surely come and gone, but the impact of activities organized by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos and partners would last forever in Idi-Araba community, Lagos State.