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WaterAid Applauds Nigerian Govt for Declaring Emergency in Sanitation, Water Sector

By Eric Ojo, Abuja

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – WaterAid Nigeria has applauded the Federal Government for its bold step in declaring a state of emergency for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector of the Nigerian economy and demanding action to tackle the water and sanitation crisis in the country.

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. The country has made solid progress in reaching people with water: seven in ten people now have clean water to drink.

Moreover, a gap between poor and rich persists, as only 30 percent of the poorest people have access to clean water, compared to 89 percent of the richest. And with fewer than three in ten people having a decent toilet, the country has a big task ahead to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal targets for water and sanitation access.

WaterAid, an international charity that dedicated to changing lives by improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene for the poorest and most marginalised communities, also urged the government to back up this declaration with significant investment and raise the financing needed to assure sustainable and affordable WASH services for all Nigerians.

The decision came at the heels of the recent call by WaterAid, urging the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the water and sanitation sector. WaterAid Nigeria also called on the Federal Government to set up a presidential taskforce empowered to lead, coordinate and deliver on providing water and sanitation for all Nigerians.

In its declaration of the state of emergency in WASH, the Nigerian government states that the WASH sector in Nigeria is in crisis and that urgent action is required for its revitalisation. The government announced the development of a National WASH Action Plan that will set out a 13-year strategy for the WASH sector, including an 18-month emergency phase. It includes the establishment of a National WASH Fund for increased financial investment for WASH.

While commending the government, WaterAid Nigeria Country Director, Dr ChiChi Aniagolu-Okoye, expressed her satisfaction over the decision, adding that it will attract the much needed attention to the sector.

“I am utterly delighted that the Federal Government has declared a State of Emergency in WASH, following our campaign demands during World Water Day and beyond. We hope that with this declaration more attention will be focused on the sector. This is a significant step towards achieving clean water, sanitation and hygiene for everyone, everywhere by 2030”, she said.

WaterAid in a press statement made available to African Examiner, further urged the Federal Government to ensure that the National Healthcare Act which requires 1 percent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to be channelled to healthcare is implemented with clear inclusion of WASH in healthcare priorities.

The group also noted that multi-sectoral coordination and clarity of institutional arrangements, the lack of which is hampering the development of needed policies (such as the national sanitation policy) and hindering robust sector plans and policies with critical inputs of sector actors and sufficient ownership by allied sectors.

It also called for a harmonised monitoring and supervision platform for the sector, noting that those that exist are duplicative, non-inclusive, unreliable and not owned by all key sector actors. “Gaps in Nigeria’s monitoring frameworks for the sector sabotages sector planning and makes it difficult to measure the impact of WASH interventions and track progress of WASH access”, the statement added.

It further recommended that states and local governments should take advantage of the State of Emergency declared in the sector by the Federal Government, by launching the same in their respective jurisdiction.

It may be recalled that WaterAid wants all governments to take action ahead of the UN’s High Level Political Forum in New York in July, where Goal 6 of clean water, sanitation and hygiene for everyone, everywhere by 2030 will come under review.

It is the position of the group that without water, decent sanitation and good hygiene, other Sustainable Development Goals, including those on gender equality, education, health, reducing inequalities and nutrition, cannot be achieved.

 

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