Samuel Luka, Bauchi
Bauchi state government has assured the WaterAid Nigeria that it is committed towards ensuring that all categories of people, particularly, disable people, women and girls have equal access toilets at motor parks and markets without any barrier.
The Director General of Bauchi State Environmental Protection Agency (BASEPA), Ibrahim Kabir made this known while speaking during a workshop organized by WatarAid Nigeria to assess a Prototype of toilet designed to be accessible to women and people with special needs at the Hazibal Suits in Bauchi on Thursday.
Ibrahim who described toilet as a necessity, be it private or public, recalled that the effort started few months ago when WaterAid sought for the support of the Bauchi state government on the project.
“They knocked at our door and said that they want to improve the existing situation including the design of our toilets in Bauchi state, we supported them and we posted our staff to be part of the team, they made an assessment for the past few months and finally they came up with a prototype”, Ibrahim further explained.
He said that the workshop been witnessed yesterday was to present the prototype based on the inputs received from the users, particularly people living with disability and the women group, among others.
He said that the idea came following complaints about the design of toilets that seems inaccessible to the people living with disability and women, particularly in motor parks and markets, adding that the initiative was welcomed by the state government.
“So, this morning we have seen the prototype and you heard our voice as a government, giving them the assurance that we are going to support the process to the final conclusion”, Ibrahim noted.
The DG while hoping that observations noted during the presentation of the prototype are going to be internalize, described the prototype design presentation as a good move.
While assuring government’s willingness to support the project, the BASEPA DG said government intends to invite service providers from so many companies to come to Bauchi and build many toilets.
“So, this design is going to help us to capture that in our terms of reference when we are going to sign an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)”, he said.
“We will make sure that we are going to use this design by the WaterAid and give it to the service providers that are going provide the toilet facilities in Bauchi”, the DG assured.
On his part, Programme Monitoring, Evaluation and Report Officer of WaterAid Nigeria, Mr. Mashat Mallo said that the workshop was aimed at testing the impact of the Prototype.
“This workshop today is the Impact Accelerator Prototype Testing Workshop which is the follow up to the prototyping workshop we had in December last year”, he explained.
According to him, the workshop was meant for the participants to test the prototype toilet that has been designed, adding that the Impact Accelerator Innovation Project is been shouldered by the WaterAid with Counterpart Country Programme from Bangladesh, Nepal in collaboration with WaterAid Australia.
Mr. Mashat said that the innovation idea is basically to provide toilets that women, girls and people living with special needs can access in public places without barrier.
He said that the WaterAid Nigeria is pushing for a user centered design of public toilets by working with the government, ministry of environment, the Bauchi state environmental protection agency (BASEPA), RUWASA as well as Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) media, CSOs, Disable Persons Organization in Bauchi.
Mashat pointed out that the idea is to come up with a designed toilets that women, girls and persons with Disability and everyone can use without worries.
“What we have done so far is that, we have engaged with government and together we conducted assessibility and safety audit in few selected toilets in Bauchi and with the findings from that, we engaged a consultant and that let to the prototype workshop in December where we presented the finding”, he said.
Mashat added that the participants who include the users, women, persons with Disability, the government, toilet business operators, motor parks and market leaders were in attendance to look at the findings and assessment and make suggestions on what needs to be improve upon to close the existing gaps.
He said it was from that workshop that feed backs were taken in which the consultant went back to reflect on the findings of the assessment, and the prototyping as well as the idea generated from the workshop.
Mashat expressed gratitude that the designer has succeeded in coming up with a prototype design of the toilet including a short animation video of the use of the toilet and its physical model.
“Today, we came back here with all the stakeholders like I have mentioned, to reflect on the design as a way of testing it. And as you can see, at the end of the workshop the users, the toilet business operators accepted this prototype design as a way to go, and also, the government officials have also given us their commitments by acknowledging the project as a worthwhile investment which is aimed at improving access to toilets in line with the Nigerian vision of becoming an Open Defecation Free (ODF) country in 2025 and attaining the entire SDG Goal 6 by 2030.
According to him, the prototype is meant to secure commitment from the government and support from the users as a worthwhile investment or project to implement.
Mr Mashat Mallo noted that the project will ultimately lead to its full implementation after doing a wider consultations with stakeholders by working with gender experts and the government.
“That will lead us to a design of public toilet in Bauchi that women, girls and all people can use without concerns. And that, the government will take particularly the BASEPA which is responsible for enforcement to work with public toilet operators to ensure that these toilets are available in public places”, he said.
Mr Mashat who expressed delight that the project is receiving the needed support from the Bauchi state government, pointed out that, right from the beginning, a committee comprising of technical Directors and technical working groups were selected from the ministries to be part of the process.