BY ONYEKA AJUMOBI ONOCHIE
President Muhammadu Buhari has formally declared a state of emergency on Nigeria’s Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector and called on all state governments to complement the effort by according the sector similar recognition to enable all the stakeholders work together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal targets for WASH 2030.
It would be recalled that in April last year, the Federal Executive Council approved the National Action Plan for the revitalization of the WASH sector, including the declaration of a state of emergency for the sector.
Declaring the state of emergency on the WASH sector during the launch of the National Action Plan for the revitalization of Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Sector on Thursday at the State House, Mr. President said that Nigeria is vast with an increasing rate of urbanization and that recent indices for water supply and sanitation access requires that governments at all levels redouble efforts and work in synergy towards meeting the nation’s water supply and sanitation demands.
The President stated that Nigeria has taken positive steps in the WASH Sector towards improving the living standards of Nigerians, both in the rural and urban areas.
“Access to adequate Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene are part of the indices for socio-economic development of any nation, and thus, cannot be ignored,” he said.
According to him, the issues of water supply and sanitation is not being given the right attention by the state judging from the high prevalence of water borne diseases that are being reported in different parts of the country, adding that Federal Government’s support to State Governments will be based on their commitment to implement the National WASH action plan for their respective states.
He emphasized, “in order to curb these challenges, we cannot and will not continue to allow these preventable occurrences to decimate our population any longer.”
On his own, the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman H. Adamu, stated that the Ministry has taken some steps in addressing the challenges in the sector, noting that, accordingly, the ministry, with the help of World Bank, had developed WASH Poverty Diagnostic Report, hosted National retreat on revitalization of the WASH sector, ensured the development of the draft Action Plan by a task team with representatives from the Federal and State Governments as well as presentation of the Action Plan to the Federal Executive Council for approval in April, 2018.
Engr. Adamu added that the formal declaration of the state of emergency by Mr. President will stimulate high political commitment to WASH issues at both the Federal and State levels. He stressed that it will ensure that everyone living in Nigeria has access to sustainable and safely-managed WASH services by 2030.
Speaking on behalf of the Development Partners Group, the Deputy Representative of UNICEF, Nigeria, Pernille Ironside, applauded the bold step taken by the Federal Government of Nigeria on the launch of the National Action Plan for Revitalization of the WASH and the declaration of a state of emergency for the sector.
She described Federal Government action as historical as this will scale up impact in the WASH Sector. According to her, the Development Partners Group has realized that good hygiene conditions and access to drinking water and sanitation are indispensable in tackling malnutrition and diarrhea related deaths.