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World Water Day: WaterAid Wants Ugwuanyi To Implement State Water Sector Law Before Leaving Office

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – As the  present administration of governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state like others, move closer to handing over to a new government come May 29th,  2023, , WaterAid  Nigeria, has urged the government  to fully implement the State Water Sector Law assented to in 2021 by he (Ugwuanyi), before bowing out of office.

The Organization, posited  that the implementation of the said  law and adequate funding of the sector will help to revitalize the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector and provide functional and sustainable water facilities in healthcare Centres, schools and Communities 

Country Director of WaterAid, Evelyn Mere, stated this  weekend at IgboEze North local government area of Enugu  State during the Commemoration of this year’s World  Water Day, marked on 22nd of March, 2023, but was shifted to 25th, March in Enugu state due to electioneering political issues in the state.

WaterAid, equally used the event  to appeal to the incoming Administration to endeavor to accord  the (WASH) sector a top most priority, adding that the government must also take positive steps towards ending open defecation like Jigawa State and uplift the state to attain the ODF status.

She said: “Annually, World Water Day celebrates one of the earth’s invaluable resources-water and amplifies the call to action for all stakeholders to do more in addressing the plight of the people living without access to safe water globally. 

Mere noted that “Water is crucial to overcoming many of the biggest challenges the world faces today and only by seeing the links between all the ways we need water-for health, food security, climate resilience – can we solve the water crisis.

The Country Director who spoke through the Enugu state programme lead of WaterAid, Mr. Solomon Akpanufot, pointed out  that 

the latest reports by The World Health Organization (WHO) reveal an outbreak of cholera in 23 countries worldwide with 1 billion people in 43 countries at risk, and the upsurge continues where water and sanitation infrastructure is fragile, especially in countries within Africa. 

“Invariably, this points to the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene as crucial in helping communities build resilience to the effects of climate change. 

“We have proved that real progress is possible with increased access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) achieved in the last 20 years. But this is still too slow, Even more so, the recent outbreak of cholera threatens to reverse progress.

According to her, “Data from the 2021 WASHNORM survey show that 68 percent of households in Enugu State have access to basic water supply. 

‘However, about 96% are served through private boreholes, unregulated vendors and service providers. This compromises quality as these water sources could be unfit for consumption and exacerbates the risk of water- borne diseases.

“With the 2030 target fast approaching to deliver on SDG 6 which is about “clean water and sanitation for all”, this year’s theme ‘Accelerating Change to solve the water and sanitation crisis’ is apt as it beckons on all stakeholders to play their role in ending the water and sanitation crisis. 

“For citizens to make a difference by changing the way they use, consume and manage water and the willingness to pay appropriate tariffs to ensure cost recovery for sustainability. 

Mere stressed that “For the government of Enugu State: to make water, sanitation, and hygiene a top state-level priority by investing in viable and sustainable water systems that deliver value and champion these as the key drivers of economic progress, development, health, gender equality and climate resilience.

“Today, we appeal to the government and people of Enugu State to take positive steps towards ending open defecation like Jigawa State and uplift the state to attain the ODF status.

“The law prohibiting open defection in Igbo-Etiti LGA is a step in the right direction and we commend its Chairman for this bold step. If implemented satisfactorily, it will speed up the attainment of ODF across all communities in the LGA.

” It will be satisfying to see similar actions taken in Igbo Eze North LGA and indeed all LGAs as we work together to ensure every household in Enugu State has access to clean toilets.

“As we move closer to a peaceful transition in government, we urge the incumbent government to fully implement the state Water Sector Law assented to in 2021 by His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi. 

“The implementation of this law and adequate funding of the sector will help to revitalise the WASH sector and provide functional and sustainable water facilities in healthcare centres, schools and communities.

“WaterAid is committed to working with the government, sector stakeholders and development partners in delivering on Sustainable Development Goal 6 and we call for a multistakeholder approach in making clean water accessible to everyone, especially the poor and marginalised people of Enugu State whose rights to water must be protected.

“I am confident, that together we can work to create a future where everyone, everywhere

ithin a generation has access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

In a goodwill remark, Dr. Stanley  Ilechukwu , the Executive Director of South Saharan Social Development Organization (SSDO), appreciated  the effort of WaterAid in improving access to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in Enugu state.

“I  also understand that the success of any project is hinged on the ability of stakeholders to liaise effectively to deliver cross-cutting solutions that will ultimately improve the lives of beneficiaries. 

“On this note, I must commend the efforts of other WASH stakeholders equally committed to resolving the water challenges the state experiences. I thank the Small Towns Unit of the Ministry of Water Resources for their technical expertise and continuous support.

*As we commemorate World Water Day 2023, under the theme, “Accelerating the change to solve the water and sanitation crisis,” we draw the attention of stakeholders and the government to the perennial water scarcity Enugu residents face. 

“This has led to a drastic water price hike, affecting residents’ daily lives. This scarcity affects the return of farmers, causes women and girls to walk long distance, and affect children’s education. About half of the state’s residents lack access to basic water services. This poor access increases poverty, poor health, and stunted growth for children.

“Hundreds of thousands of people, businesses, schools, farms, and factories are being held back today because their rights to clean water and sanitation have not yet been fulfilled. We call on all stakeholders to accelerate change to solve the water and sanitation crisis. What does this mean practically? 

“To make substantial progress in line with Sustainable Development Goal 6, the government needs to multiply its efforts by four if the 2030 goal is to be a reality in Enugu state. And some of these include the provision of pipe-borne water for all urban and rural households and placing regulatory measures to ensure marginalized communities get water at a subsidized price.

Ilechukwu, represented by SSDO’s Head of programmes, Mr. Udochukwu Egwim,  said “I like to say, good governance is a two-way street. As much as the government has a role to play, we also have a quota to contribute to eradicating the water and sanitation crisis we face. 

“We must take action to ensure that provided facilities are utilized properly. This we can do by making a commitment to end open defecation, improving personal hygiene and water quality with low-cost solutions, and continuously sensitizing fellow community members.

He assured that as  WaterAid implementing partner, SSDO is fully committed to achieving SDG 6 and ensuring that women, youth, and children in marginalized communities have constant access to water and sanitation services. I strongly believe that if we all work together, the state’s water challenges will be a thing of the past in no distant time.

In his speech, Executive Chairman of Igbo Eze North Council  Area, Engr. Ejike Itodo, thanked WaterAid and it’s implementing partner, SSDO, for their intervention in the state on issues concerning (WASH), stressing that clean environment guarantees healthy living of the people hence, all hands must always be on deck to promote it.

He stated that since inception,  his administration has continued to promote and encourage WASH, promising to open discussion with members of the legislative arm of the Council Area on how to commence the process of enacting a bye law prohibiting open Defecation in the locality.

“Am  going to make sure that Igbo Eze North local government area becomes the second Council area to enact the open Defecation bye law in Enugu state after Igbo Etiti,  and I want to also use this medium to thank immensely  WaterAid and SSDO for the great job they are doing in our local government area.

The State Commissioner for Rural Development Dr. Kingsley Udeh, and Special Adviser to governor  Ugwuanyi on Water Resources, Anthony Dubem  Onyia, represented by Christopher Ugwu of the Small town Unit water supply in the Ministry ,had in their seprate speeches, thanked WaterAid and SSDO for their interventions in the state on issue of WASH, assuring them of governments readiness to always provide them the enabling Environment.

Udeh said the state government has put in place all that is required to resolve and solve the perennial water crisis bedeviling the state.

Our Correspondent writes that the Wateraid Team and the IgboEze North local government Chairman, had at the end of the colourful event graced by primary school pupils from various Communities in the locality as well as Traditional rulers, visited an ongoing water project being executed by Wateraid in one of the villages in the Council area for inspection.

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