The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) today in Lagos, took a major step towards safeguarding the environment against open defecation by inaugurating a Technical Committee on non-sewage sanitation.
The committee’s scope covers standardisation in the field of sanitation systems for organisations of all size and types, groups, networks, cities and regions.
Inaugurating the committee, which would be working through ISO PC 305 & ISO PC 318, the Director-General of the SON, Mr Osita Aboloma said the standards would not only address basic sanitation needs, but promote economic, social and environmental sustainability.
He said the strategies for this, include minimising resources consumption, and converting human waste to safe output and a standard on faecal sludge treatment unit.
“Today’s meeting is meant to establish Nigeria’s position in the ISO draft standards on sanitation systems and services through a consensus on your input.
The final draft standards elaborated will be further circulated for consumers and final voting to establish the standards”
Aboloma who was represented by Mrs Chinyere Egwuonwu, Director, Standards added that the benefits of participation and adoption of the standards would among others things, provide a basis for confidence, transparency and continuity in business.
He said it would also provide global best practices in the environmental sector; promote international trade through removal of technical barrier to trade (TBT) as well as sustainable economic and environmental developments.
The SON DG told the committee that it would also be responsible for establishing Nigeria’s position on issues relating to the standards internationally, adding that the committee should be owned by the different stakeholders concerned by the standards.
“Your esteemed contributions are required to ensure that the standards reflect Nigeria’s position to facilitate its adoption as a National Standards to provide the necessary confidence for engagements”, the DG said.
Mrs Iyabo Phillips, of the Lagos State Ministry of Environment who eventually emerged chairman of the committee expressed appreciation to her colleagues for the confidence reposed on her to lead the committee.
She declared her determination to give it her best, first, bye carrying other members along, and also seeing that the sundry issues concerned were adequately addressed.
According to the chairman, the state government was already putting the issue of open defecation on the front burner as a way of underscoring its importance.
“I promise to give my best to ensure that the committee succeeds. We will work to give Nigeria the best; to ensure that the standards are corrected, amended modified and if necessary adopted as a national standard
Mrs Philips said most diseases causing havocs these days were actually water-borne, and that this had made an elaboration such as the one in reference.
Project manager of the standards, Mr Justin Nikaff described the initiative as important, decrying the fact that Nigerians seemed to take the issues of sanitation with levity.
According to him, this was the reason for the series of ailments which people suffer.
He equally pledged his commitment to seeing that the committee succeeded.
It would be recalled that that the United Nations (UN) had in March of 2013 issued a global call to action for the comprehensive elimination of open defecation by 2025.
According to the UN, countries where open defecation is most common have the highest levels of child death and disease, as a result of ingesting human faecal matter that has entered the food or water supply.
The agency is equally concerned that because a lack of safe, private sanitation is also associated with the highest overall levels of malnutrition, poverty, and disparity between rich and poor, and makes women and girls more vulnerable to violence.
It is on these bases that the SON initiative was commended by the stakeholders who attended the inauguration in Lagos.
They were unanimous that it was one intervention which would leave positive impacts in the sanitary habits of people, and in improved well-being on the short, medium and long runs.