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About 2.5 Million People Lack Access to Clean Water In Enugu, Says WaterAid

From Ignatius Okpara, Enugu

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Worried by the devastating effect of the neglect of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in parts of Nigeria, which often create room for outbreak of epidemic and other forms of diseases, the Enugu state government has declared state of emergency in the sector, even as about 2.5 million people lack access to clean water in the state.

Enugu state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, while officially inaugurating an 18-man inter-ministerial committee for the implementation of WASH Action Plan in the state Wednesday, stressed the need for government at all levels to always take issues relating to the sector very seriously.

African Examiner reports that the committee members are drawn from the state ministry of Health, Water Resources, Environment, agencies and nongovernmental organisations, NGOs.

Part of the WASH Action Plan is to provide adequate water for the populace and to eradicate open defecation in Nigeria on or before the year 2025.

Ugwuanyi, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Professor. Simon Ortuanya, said that the importance of water to any society cannot be overemphasised, pointing out that over 55 million Nigerians do not have access to adequate clean water.

He equally pointed out that it is appalling that in this computer age, many Nigerians do not have access to toilet facilities, hence they defecate in the open.

According to the governor, it is his expectation that the Committee would ensure that they carry out the full implementation of the WASH action plan which is to provide water for sanitation and hygiene for all.

To ensure that Enugu meets up with the action plan of eradicating open defecation before year 2025, Ugwuanyi said that his government is committed to providing water in the state for drinking and other uses that include sanitation and hygiene.

“As a government have continued to pursue the goal of providing water in the state,” he said adding that, “I declare state of emergency on water, sanitation and hygiene, adding that his administration would also build modern abbatoirs where water will be used to maintain their cleanliness, as well as  build public toilets in the markets in Enugu so that nobody would defecate in the open again.

In her reaction, WaterAid Nigeria Acting Country Director, Evelyn Mere said: “It is about time and I am excited that the Government of Enugu State has declared a State of Emergency in WASH and has further inaugurated an inter-ministerial committee to lead, coordinate and domesticate the goals of the National WASH Action Plan in the state, this is a laudable development following our campaign demands during the 2019 World Water Day and beyond.

“We hope that with this declaration more attention will be focused on the sector as this is a significant step towards achieving clean water, sanitation and hygiene for everyone, everywhere by 2030. Without water, decent sanitation and good hygiene, there can be no sustainable economic development and other Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved.

She disclosed that WaterAid, is an international charity,p organization  dedicated to changing lives by improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene for the poorest and most marginalised communities, and is advocating for a state of emergency to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goal of access to water and sanitation for everyone, everywhere by 2030 would be achieved.

“Although Nigeria is oil-rich and has sub-Saharan Africa’s largest income, it has nonetheless struggled to deliver clean water and sanitation to its people, saying  ” according to national statistics, about 60 million people in Nigeria, that is 32% of the population, still lack access to clean water supply services while 110 million people, 58% of the population, lack access to basic sanitation or a decent toilet.

” About 150 million, 79% of the population, lack basic handwashing facilities with soap and water. There are a staggering 47 million people practising open defecation and about 70,000 children under 5 die every year from diseases caused by the nation’s poor levels of access to these basic life-saving services.

“In Enugu State, about 2.5 million people lack clean water; nearly 3 million do not have basic toilets and almost 2 million people defecate in the open. Lacking access to these basic needs means people are deprived of an equal chance to improve their livelihoods, be healthy, educated and financially secure.

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