The general paucity of public awareness of environmental issues among the Nigerian citizenry still leaves much to be desired. Cross River State in particular, used to be the neatest and cleanest state in Nigeria and was the role model of other states in the country but in recent times, the state is about the dirtiest in Nigeria. The environmental condition is so challenging as the state and her people are faced with refuse all over which has led to the breeding of diseases and rodents.
As an Organization working in the community, we have realized that environmental sanitation strongly depends on social and cultural practices and beliefs and these have to be considered when planning interventions. Cultural issues play an active part in hygiene and sanitation behavior especially among members of rural communities. Basing on that, our interventions are demand-based, requiring the involvement of the community. We believe sanitation needs to be addressed as a whole, including improvement of facilities, environmental conditions and behavioral change.
Attitudinal change is one of the key objectives of Environmental Education, which is more likely to inculcate in the citizenry a sustained culture of environmental ethic and discipline capable of engendering lasting environmental friendliness. We focus on the importance of proper disposal of waste, the construction and proper use of toilets, hand washing, avoiding drinking from open water sources (the dangers of water-borne diseases contracted by drinking contaminated water), taking showers, cutting nails and hair, the use of safe and clean sanitary pads during monthly bleeding, and maintaining cleanliness inside and outside the house.
We have also partnered with local schools, encouraging children to adopt personal habits of hygiene. It is hoped that they will eventually help their schools and families.
We also do practical demonstrations of cleaning and hands washing that are sustainable. Community health teams have been selected and trained to continue sensitizing the people in order to bring about behavioral change and ensure that the interventions initiated are long-lasting and not short-lived.