Abuja – 10/01/2019 (NAN) There is no gainsaying the fact that many Nigerians have been facing a lot of challenges in accessing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services over the years.
In recent times, however, the poor access of the citizens to WASH facilities has elicited the attention of the government and other stakeholders, as they look into practical ways of addressing the drawback.
Some analysts note that even though the federal, state and local governments are all involved in the provision of water for the citizenry, the current level of water supply has been grossly inadequate, considering the increasing population of the country.
They, therefore, underscore the need for a synergy among all the stakeholders in efforts to proffer pragmatic solutions to the water supply challenges facing Nigerians, as part of the country’s efforts to achieve Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sustainable Development Goal 6 — one of the 17 SDGs established by the United Nations (UN) in 2015 — aims at ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all people.
However, some reports of the UN and WaterAid have indicated that in Nigeria, more than 60 million citizens still lacked access to potable water.
The reports also said that more than 120 million people did not have access to decent toilet facilities, while no fewer than 47 million persons still engaged in open defecation.
These disturbing statistics, perhaps, compelled President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency in the WASH sector on Nov. 8, 2018, as part of calculated efforts to galvanise action and investments in the sector.
The declaration comes amid rising concerns that Nigeria has been falling behind, in terms of improving the citizens’ access to water and sanitation.
« The declaration means that there is political will, at the highest level, to commit more investment and encourage the states – the main targets of the initiative — to follow suit and prioritise WASH projects, » Buhari said at the launch of the action plan
The Minister for Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu, said that the National Action Plan for Revitalisation of the WASH Sector, which was launched by President Buhari, would strengthen the provision of WASH services in the country.
He said that the action plan would particularly ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all citizens by 2030.
He emphasised that the plan was also aimed at renewing the partnership between the Federal Government and state governments to improve sustainable management of water supply and sanitation facilities across the country.
Besides, Adamu said that the strategy would facilitate the creation of an enabling the environment to support effective and sustainable management of WASH services.
The minister, nonetheless, blamed the collapse of several bore holes across the country, barely a year after their construction, to the prevalence of quacks among the borehole drillers.
He, therefore, urged the Association of Water Well Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners (AWDROP) to monitor the activities of its members properly.
All the same, Adamu underscored the need for all Nigerians to conserve the country’s underground water resources so as to promote water efficiency and ensure water availability for future use.
Stakeholders in the water sector have commended the Federal Government for launching the action plan on the WASH sector, while pledging to contribute their quotas to its success.
Dr ChiChi Aniagolu-Okoye, the Country Director of WaterAid, particularly lauded the Federal Government’s emergency response plan to address the water and sanitation crises facing the country.
« With one in three Nigerians without clean water, and two in three Nigerians without decent household sanitation, our expectation is that state governments will follow suit by developing action plans to address the water and sanitation crises in their respective states. »
Aniagolu-Okoye, nonetheless, stressed that the country’s leaders must exhibit a strong political will in their efforts to tackle the WASH crises in the country.
« WaterAid, as an organisation, is happy to note that the Federal Government, under President Muhammadu Buhari, is demonstrating the needed political will to address the crises with the launch of the National Action Plan for Revitalisation of the WASH Sector.
« The national plan of action is a significant political milestone towards achieving the UN-SDG 6 to reach everyone, everywhere with clean water and decent sanitation by 2030.
« As we all know, our country is vast with an increasing rate of urbanisation.
« However recent indices for water supply and sanitation access require that governments at all levels redouble efforts and work in synergy towards meeting the nation’s water supply and sanitation demands, » she said.
Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Benson Attah, the National Coordinator of Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN), said that the initiation of the action plan for the WASH sector was indeed a good development.
He extolled the Federal Government for taking such an apt decision to tackle the WASH challenges facing the country frontally.
Nevertheless, Nature Uchenna Obiakor, Coordinator, Youth WASH Network Africa, said that efforts to achieve the targets of the action plan would be futile unless supporting policies such as the National Water Management Policy were put in place to drive the plan’s implementation.
Obiakor said that the National Water Resources Bill, which had yet to be passed by the National Assembly, would facilitate the implementation and effectiveness of the action plan.
All the same, Mr Peter Onoja, Acting Executive Director, Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission (IWRM), said that there was a paradigm shift in the approach to the management of the nation’s water resources from the traditional procedures to the global best practices.
He said the initiative aimed at protecting the nation’s water sources from unscientific extraction of natural resources, adding, however, that it required appropriate legal backing and institutional framework of IWRM.
He, nonetheless, noted that policies had been put in place to drive the process, stressing that the regulation of water resources sought to ensure the availability of sufficient water in qualitative and quantitative terms.
Onoja said that the commission was working with other stakeholders to enforce approved standards for water resources management in the country.
He said that the collaboration was aimed at protecting the country’s water sources, while ensuring water availability and conservation for future purposes.
While calling for the speedy passage of the Water Resources Bill by the National Assembly, Onoja said that the bill would facilitate the efforts of the commission to actualise its vision and fulfil its mission.