Over 120m lack decent toilet
Statistics reeled out recently by WaterAid Nigeria shows that 33 per cent (about 60 million) of people in Nigeria are currently living without adequate access to water; 67% (over 120 million people) do not have a decent toilet; and 26% (about 47 million people) practice open defecation.
WaterAid, which has an office in Nigeria, is a global organisation with branches across the world. It enables the world’s poorest people to gain access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education. The organisation believes that these basic human rights underpin health, education and livelihoods and form the first, essential step in overcoming poverty.
Presenting the water and sanitation situation in Nigeria, the Country Director, WaterAid Nigeria, Dr. ChiChi AniagoluOkoye said, “Nigeria is at the precipice of a water, sanitation and hygiene catastrophe. Despite the progress achieved between 1990 and 2015 for access rates to improved water sources, Nigeria has regressed with regard to access to piped water service. Access to piped water on premises in urban areas dropped from three in every 10 persons in 1990, to even less than one in 2015.”
The country director of WaterAid Nigeria stated this in her presentation at a workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, organised by the Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA), an association of writers, journalists and communicators who specialise in reporting science for development; the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a leading research and advocacy think tank based in New Delhi, India; and the Kenya Network for Water and Sanitation. The workshop for journalists in Africa discussed, among other things, how to improve coverage of water and sanitation in the African media.
ChiChi Aniagolu-Okoye said a major intervention was the federal government’s “declaration of a state of emergency in water and sanitation. In addition to declaring a state of emergency, the Federal government has also enacted enabling policies and programmes in the last three years towards achieving the goal of SDG 6.”
Other interventions are the Development of the Partnership for expanded WASH (PEWASH) policy 2016-2030. The PEWASH articulates the government’s plans to reach 100% coverage for WASH services in rural areas. The document sets out a framework for coordination and investment among key sector stakeholders and across the three tiers of government, according to her.
There is also the development of a National WASH Action Plan that sets out a 13-year strategy, including an 18-month emergency phase. It includes the establishment of a National WASH Fund for increased financial investment for WASH.
She said Nigeria has a national sanitation roadmap 2025 which provides a guide towards achieving an open defecation-free country; a Water Bill for the proper regulation of water provision and use in the country. The bill has passed the 3rd reading at the National Assembly; improved coordination of sector actors through the National Task Group on Sanitation, revitalisation of the task group on water quality, setting up the inter-ministerial committee on sanitation to facilitate high level engagements between relevant ministries, improved engagement with development partners, development of draft national monitoring framework (National WASH Information System (NAWIS) WASH information Management System (WASHIMS).
She said despite these laudable steps, a lot still needed to be done to ensure that Nigeria meets SDG 6 Goals by 2030, saying there was need for strong political will that would ensure “improved funding for the section, including plugging leakages to ensure the funds that do come to the sector are properly utilised; better coordination of stakeholders -government, donors, CSOs; an effective monitoring system that includes a high level task force chaired by the minister and includes government, bureaucrats, CSOs, the religious, traditional rulers, representatives of women, girls and people living with disabilities groups which meets monthly basis to track progress.
Others are improved private sector involvement; Hygiene Behaviour Change programme that works and is sustainable.
WaterAid, she said “is throwing its weight behind this audacious step of the federal government to support the realisation of the expected goals of SDG 6.”