Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja declared a state of emergency on Nigeria’s water supply, sanitation and hygiene sector and advised state governments to do same.
Making the declaration at the inauguration of the National Action Plan for Revitalisation of Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector at the State House Conference Centre, the president said the declaration had become imperative if cases of high-prevalence of water-borne diseases leading to preventable deaths in different parts of the country would be reduced.
According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari directed government at all levels to redouble efforts and work towards meeting the nation’s water supply and sanitation needs.
He also said the president described statistics on open defecation, access to pipe-borne water services and sanitation in the country as ‘’disturbing,’’ warning that henceforth, the federal government’s support to state governments will be based on their commitment to implement the National WASH Action Plan in their respective states and to end open defecation by 2025.
‘’Access to piped water services which was 32 percent in 1990 has declined to seven percent in 2015; access to improved sanitation has also decreased from 38 per cent in 1990 to 29 per cent in 2015.
‘’Our country now ranks No 2 in the global rating on Open Defecation as about 25 per cent of our population are practising open defecation.
“WASH services at the rural areas are unsustainable as 46 per cent of all water schemes are non-functional, and the share of our spending on WASH sector has been declining from 0.70 per cent of the GDP in 1990 to about 0.27 per cent in 2015 which is far below the 0.70 per cent at the West African regional level,’’ he was quoted as as saying.
According to the statement, the president used the occasion, which it said was attended by state government representatives and development partners, to reiterate that the provision of potable water supply, adequate sanitation and hygiene are primarily the responsibilities of state and local governments.
‘’However, these are not being given the required attention judging from the high prevalence of water-borne diseases that are being reported in different parts of the country. We cannot and will not continue to allow these preventable occurrences to decimate our population,’’ he was further quoted. It also said Buhari told the gathering that he was aware that Nigeria did not meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets for water supply and sanitation which ended in 2015.
Quoting him further, Adesina said the president noted, “The Sustainable Development Goals (MDGs) targets (6.1 & 6.2) for WASH are even more demanding as they require WASH services to be provided in adequate quantity and quality on premises at affordable prices.
‘’This cannot be achieved if we continue with ‘a business as usual’ approach.
It is on this premise that I fully endorse the decision taken at the meeting of the Federal Executive Council in April this year to declare ‘a State of Emergency on our WASH Sector.’
‘’I call on all state governments to complement this effort by according the sector similar recognition to enable us work together to achieve the SDGs targets for WASH by 2030.”
The statement added that at the federal level, the president pledged that his administration would continue to place priority on infrastructure development including water supply, sanitation and hygiene services with a view to ensuring better life for Nigerians.
According to the statement, the president said the government was doing this through faithful implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which he described as the administration’s blueprint for infrastructure and economic development. ‘’From the inceptionof this administration, we have demonstrated serious commitment to the development of the Water Sector by preserving the Ministry of Water Resources and subsequently approving the 15-year roadmap developed for the sector.
‘’The transformation being witnessed in the sector since then is highly commendable. I have no doubt that the on-going initiatives including the implementation of the Partnership for Expanded Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) in the Ministry will take the water sector to improved performance and supply, thereby meeting the national aspirations as well as the SDGs,’’ he said.