Kuni Tyessi in Abuja
To overcome the huge number of Nigerians practicing open defecation and to provide safe water and hygiene, six local government areas of Kano and Jigawa states have benefited from the European Union intervention of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in Nigeria.
So far pegged at N11.6 billion (€25m), this is in continuation of the EU support, through UNICEF and the federal government, towards achieving the objectives of the national campaign on an open defecation free Nigeria launched last year and the state of emergency declared on the WASH sector in 2018.
The facilities which are expected to serve over one million people will go a long way towards ensuring that people in Nigeria have access to safe WASH services which is one of requirements needed in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG6).
Kano State Communications Specialist from UNICEF, Mr. Rabiu Musa in a statement, said data from the WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH NORM) shows that 47 million Nigerians practice open defecation with only 11 per cent having access to complete basic WASH services, with only 13 per cent of schools having access to WASH.
He said the federal government should invest three times more in the water sector making sure that every Nigerian has access to clean water and a toilet as the lack of access to water is impacting the well-being, especially of the most vulnerable.
He said:” The lack of WASH facilities in schools are of serious concern as children who do not have access to water are most likely to lose interest in pursuing learning opportunities because they are forced to spend more time in search for water during school hours or stay out of school to recover from illness caused by frequent episodes of diarrhea.
“More than 100,000 children under five years of age die each year due to water borne diseases like diarrhea, of which 90 per cent is directly attributed to unsafe water and sanitation.
“Access to clean drinking water is a human right – just like the right to food and the right to live without torture and racial discrimination.
“And ending open defecation and making water, sanitation, and hygiene services available to all Nigerians is one of the biggest challenges as construction and management of facilities requires sustained investments and more partnerships, especially with the private sector.
“The Nigeria government should invest three times more in the water sector making sure that every Nigeria has access to clean water and a toilet as the lack of access to water is impacting the wellbeing specially of the most vulnerable.”
Meanwhile, the EU-funded programmes support WASH projects in urban and rural areas through the provision of water schemes, technical assistance and capacity development to sector institutions and agencies responsible, and improved access to safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene services in communities.
The EU has invested more than 250 million Euros in the Nigerian water sector, aimed at improving the WASH conditions of more than 10 million people in 14 States across the country.