WaterAid: 60M People in Nigeria Live Without Adequate Access to Water

 *Over 120m lack decent toilet

By Bennett Oghifo

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 Aniagolu-Okoye 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.”

The organisation is working from within and supporting Governments own efforts, she said. “In the past we have tried influencing government by introducing programmes and approaches hoping we can convince them to buy into it. “Currently, our strategy involves using the insider approach to influence government. We plan, learn, document and monitor with technical staff of the Ministries and this has proven to be very good tactic to influencing their thoughts and that of the decision makers. This effectively makes them our internal advocates to achieve our influencing objectives.

“Support coordination meetings, policy development, study tours etc; organised a breakfast meeting at the fringes of the HLPF to spotlight the Nigerian government’s bold step in declaring a state of emergency in Water and Sanitation in Nigeria as well as learn lessons.”

On performance monitoring, she said in order to address common data management challenges and to enhance performance monitoring and reporting of WASH outcomes, a management information systems for WASH have been developed and operationalised at the local, state and national levels.

“This is with the view to integrating all WASH-related data harnessed across all levels of government and multi sectors into a central repository that will inform policy formulation, planning and budgeting.

“WaterAid is supporting the National Water Information System (NAWIS) -the overall tool set up to collect and transmit real time data from the Water Sanitation & Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH-NORM) and Water Sanitation & Hygiene Management Information System (WASHIMS). The Federal Ministry of Water Resources hosts the NAWIS.

The Water Sanitation & Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH-NORM) is a structure that has been put in place to get routine (yearly) outcome data to fill the gap of data and statistics generated from JMP (Joint Monitoring Programme), GLAAS (Global Analysis and Assessment on Sanitation and Drinking-Water), MICS (Multiple indicator Cluster Survey) surveys which are often not routine. It is to provide up-to-date information on WASH statistics and aggregate data to inform subsequent surveys. Water Sanitation & Hygiene Management Information System (WASHIMS) is also a database and reporting system for WASH outcomes from rural, small towns and urban areas

Another coping mechanism, according to her, “Is using our collaboration with national NGOs to address sensitive issues of governance. This is a result of our limitations as an international NGO to tackle certain issues head on. There are a number of emerging NGOs focused on addressing governance issues such as accountability and transparency. Therefore, they are better primed to challenge the government on issues of corruption that affect access to sanitation.

Working with highly influential donor agencies that play a big part in setting the sanitation agenda in Nigeria, have also helped in scaling some hurdles. International collaborations between WaterAid and other donor agencies is sometimes helpful in this regard, like the partnership with the World Bank.

She said an emerging framework to achieving sustainable total sanitation is being developed. “This framework provides an adaptive and composite approach to supporting households and communities to achieve sustainable, improved sanitation provision.”

There was also an introduction of Satopans, which areaffordable, durable toilets which cost a fraction of regular toilets.

WaterAid also links campaigns to epidemics and outbreaks, she said, “When epidemics or outbreaks occur, for example Ebola, Lassa fever, monkey pox, cholera etc. all stakeholders especially government and the affected communities are more open to change and solutions. We therefore always use the opportunity of these outbreaks to push our sanitation campaigns and engage with government.”

She said the Water and Sanitation ‘war’ can be won in Nigeria if the Governments at the state level prioritise WASH; Donors, private sector and media prioritise WASH; Greater coordination of ministries and parastatals to  improve service provision and reduce duplication; Increased funding for households to purchase toilets and entrepreneurs to become interested in the sanitation as a business.

WaterAid, she said would use the upcoming elections to mobilise citizens to demand for WASH from candidates. “The candidates will be required to sign a pledge card accepting to improve WASH services should they be elected. These will be used to hold the candidates accountable to their promises should they win.”

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