THE Ministry of Water Resources on Tuesday urged Nigerians to build and use their toilets to reduce the spread of preventable diseases that might occur from open defecation practices.

This is the thrust at the opening of the a two-day training on Validation of Open Defecation Free (ODF) Communities in Nigeria in Akwanga, Nasarawa State.

The Director, Water Quality Supply and Sanitation, with the ministry, Mr Emmanuel Awe, reiterated government’s commitment to abide by the Open Defecation Free Protocol for Total Sanitation in the country.

The Protocol are guidelines to guide the verification, certification and validation processes for declaring communities ODF.

It limits a maximum of 15 people to use one toilet in a community, access to hand washing facilities in toilets, access to water, proper disposal of solid and liquid waste, among others.

Awe, who was represented by Mr Emma Eze said Nigeria could achieve its target of meeting the National Roadmap of Ending Open defecation by 2025, if all stakeholders took ownership of policies in place to encourage behavioural change for sanitation and hygiene.

The director noted that the aim of the training was to equip participants with necessary skills on validation of certified ODF communities, saying the role knowledge plays in meeting up the target of ending open defecation could not be over emphasised.

He added that the training was also an avenue to change the processes of verifying ODF communities toward the goal of changing the narratives of meningitis open defecation in the country.

Mrs Chizoba Opara, a Scientific Officer with the ministry, who spoke on Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), noted that the overall aim was to see that Nigeria achieves and sustains total sanitation and end open defecation practices.

Opara said ending open defecation was possible with behaviour change, and called for a collective action to reverse the trend in the country.

According to her, collective action is needed to end open defecation through the promotion of private sector involvement to promote scaling up and sustainability.

“Sanitation can generate employment opportunities, the private sector can begin in building sanitation facilities in the public places.

“We need to begin to recognise that sanitation cannot be free, some money must be paid to get value to maintain and dusting the facilities.

“The demand is available, there is the need to awaken the supply chain in sanitation to end open defecation by 2025.”

She urged participants to desist from compromising quality when assessing communities to be declared ODF, saying CLTS practice was all about behaviour change.