Abimbola Akosile

WaterAid Nigeria has launched a five-year strategic plan to focus on increasing citizens’ access to quality, equitable and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services built on a strong sector and engaged communities.

The plan was launched recently in Abuja by the WaterAid International’s Chief Executive, Ms. Barbara Frost, who was on a working visit to the country. This plan, according to reports, will be laying the foundation for the fifteen year path to achieving universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene for everyone everywhere in Nigeria by 2030, as encapsulated in the 17 new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Speaking on the new strategy, WaterAid Nigeria Country Director, Dr. Michael Ojo said: “Our new strategy is an ambitious and challenging one but we look forward to an exciting journey that will impact positively on child health, education, livelihoods, the environment and addressing poverty and inequalities.

“Our strategic objectives target strengthening systems to reduce WASH sector blockages; empowering citizens to demand their rights and participate in WASH decision-making and strengthening partnerships to influence the WASH sector and increase access to sustainable WASH services. We will continue to work with the government, colleagues in the development sector and through our partners, to ensure universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene for all in Nigeria by 2030,” he added.

Frost, on her part, said the strategy is an impressive roadmap to changing the course of history and reaching those who are poorest and most vulnerable in Nigeria with safe water, sanitation and hygiene.

“These life-saving and essential services are fundamental to both human and national development and delivering on them will transform the lives of millions of Nigerians. Achieving universal access for all in Nigeria is possible with the right political commitment, funding, collaborations and innovative thinking,” she said.

Despite documented progress of people having improved access to water in Nigeria, the country failed to meet the MDG targets for both water and sanitation and consequently, nearly 45,000 children under the age of five in Nigeria still die from diarrheal diseases caused by the nation’s poor levels of access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

Water and sanitation are strong goals under the new global development goals, and Nigeria has for long been trying to realise these crucial goals, from when the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were in existence. But till now, millions of Nigerians still suffer from poor access to adequate potable water and also decent sanitation facilities.