Jewel Environmental Initiative (JEI), an NGO on Tuesday sensitised no fewer than 5, 000 pupils against open defecation in selected public schools in Gombe State.
Mr Ismail Bima, the Chief Executive Officer of the NGO told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview that the sensitisation was part of activities to mark the World Toilet Day.
NAN reports that World Toilet Day is an annual event aimed at raising awareness on the role sanitation plays in reducing disease and creating healthier communities and the theme for 2019 is “Leaving No One Behind’’.
Bima said that the growing abuse on the environment had necessitated such sensitisation to create awareness on the importance of proper sanitation toward protecting the environment and enhancing healthy living amongst the young ones.
According to him, women and children are often the most vulnerable when diseases break out as a result of environmental abuse like open defecation; hence the need to sensitise them against acts that pollute the environment.
He said in the cause of the sensitisation free toiletries and other hand sensitizers were given to the children to encourage the use of toiletries, which according to him remained the best form of hygienic living.
He said children also contributed to open defecation menace in the society without knowing the consequences on their health and environment but stressed that with the sensitisation, many would become good ambassadors of their environment.
“We have decided to take our sensitisation to schools, about four public schools with a combined population of over 5, 000 pupils. This is done to commemorate the World Toilet Day.
“There is no better day to create such awareness against open defection and the need for the children to take up proper sanitation as a lifestyle to ensure that their communities are not abused.
“The drive to make our environment healthy and safe for everyone is one responsibility that must not exclude anyone and that’s why we have done the sensitisation to make the pupils good ambassadors of their environment.
“We selected the four schools within Gombe Township where the population is dense and issues of environment and health have become a challenge. But with these we will sustain our environment for the future,’’ he said.
While commending Gombe Government for its initiative in planting 4,000,000 trees within the next four years, Bima urged the government to adopt a legislative approach towards addressing the menace of open defecation.
He further called on the residents to have behavioural change toward open defecation, stressing that without that effort by the government in that regard might not yield the needed results to curb the menace.