Abuja — The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Engr Joseph Utsev, Thursday, disclosed that the Federal Government is upscaling initiatives to reverse worrisome Water Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, indices in the country.
Utsev made this known in his address during the FG/UNICEF Annual Wash Review Meeting in Abuja.
While declaring the meeting open, he acknowledged that access to sanitation and hygiene services lagged behind access to water supply both at national and global levels.
He said: “The Government is concerned that access to Sanitation and Hygiene services has worrisomely lagged behind access to Water Supply both at national and global levels.
“According to the 2021 WASHNORM Report, access to basic Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Services in Nigeria were estimated at 67%, 46% and 17% respectively. WASH issues have been determined to be fundamental to economic and social development.
“It also has crosscutting impact on different Sectors, mainly health, education, economy, amongst others. Consequently, achieving the WASH targets under SDG 6 in Nigeria is critical as it will contribute to the achievement of our developmental goals as a nation, with regional and global implications in view of the country’s strategic position.
“Over the years, the Federal Government has consistently ensured that the implementation of policies and programmes are designed to address identified Sector gaps, improve access to services and demonstrate its commitment and prioritization of WASH. Some of these initiatives, which were led by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, are targeted at improving access to sustainable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services in the country.
“These include the development of the National Action Plan for the revitalization of the WASH Sector, Presidential declaration of State of Emergency on the Sector; the Partnership for Expanded WASH (PEWASH) programme; institutionalization of the WASH National Routine Outcome Mapping (WASHNORM); the ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ Campaign; Presidential Executive Order 9, the Sustainable Urban and Rural WASH (SURWASH) Project and development of the Roadmap for Hand Hygiene for All, among others.
“Recently, these have been reinforced with new initiatives including the development of a National WASH Policy for which a multi-stakeholder oversight committee has been inaugurated; the signing of Memoranda of Understanding for the take-off of the SchoolWASH, HealthWASH and YouthWASH Programmes in collaboration with the relevant line Ministries.
“These high-level initiatives clearly demonstrate the strong political will of the Federal Government in reversing the narrative on Nigeria’s poor WASH indices and accelerating access to sustainable services in our institutions and public places.”
Meanwhile, the UNICEF Representative, Rownak Khan, pointed out that there is a lot of work to do for children to have access to clean drinking water.
“From UNICEF side, as we work for children in this country, we have various programmes to ensure the basic social services for children, and one of the basic social services is access to clean water and access to sanitation as well. So because in this country there are a huge number of children who do not have access to clean water even there is water, this water is also contaminated.
“As I mentioned, that 68 per cent of the water is contaminated with organism. So therefore, we are working with the government and also other partners to make sure that we are concerned about like your there are many water pumps that are also not functional as well.
“So we are working with the local level counterparts to give them training so that they actually can maintain the water pumps. The other area is access to clean sanitary facilities as well.
“So this is part of this ‘Clean Nigeria Campaign’, where we are working with various partners including the private sector to eliminate open defecation practice as well. So we are making some progress but there’s a lot to do.”
On what UNICEF is doing to mitigate climate change impact on children she (Khan) explained that, “So as the first step, we have done an analysis of how vulnerable children are to climate change in Nigeria.
“So this is a report which was launched in November, and this also shows that high vulnerability of children to different climate change in this country; there’s drought in one place, there’s flooding the places and so we will be working with the Ministry of Environment, but also with the Ministry of Water and Sanitation to develop an action plan.
“This is something that is a new area for all of us. So we are going based on the evidence and also based on what can be done in midterm and long term solutions.”