Climate Change Biggest Health Challenge to Humanity, Says Minister

…As NEWSAN urges climate resilient measures in WASH

Olawale Ajimotokan

Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu has described climate challenge as the biggest health threat facing humanity.

He stated this in Abuja while addressing the multi-stakeholder dialogue/engagement on the triple crises (climate, health and economic recovery) and the key role of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and the needed actions.

He lamented that climate change was also affecting the social and environmental determinants of health such as clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.

The minister, who was represented by the Coordinator Clean Nigeria, Mrs Chizoba Okpara, said that it was in cognisance of the key role of WASH in stemming the tide of these triple crises, that the ministry of water resources set up a National WASH Emergency Response Committee in the wake of the outbreak of the COVID- 19 pandemic in the country.

He said these platforms helped provide the needed support to states and ensure that WASH services were being prioritised across the country.

The minister also said 78 of the 774 Local Government Areas of the country are open defecation free.

He noted that with the deadline of 2025 Open Defecation Free Target date for the country there was still a lot to be done to move the remaining 696 LGAs to open defecation free status and sustain the 78 LGAs as open defecation free.

In his remarks at the multi-stakeholder dialogue, the National Coordinator, Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN), Mr Benson Attah, has clamoured for the integration of climate-resilient measures in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes in the country.

He said sustainable access to safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene contributed to improvements in public health, nutrition, girl’s education and poverty reduction, thereby promoting food production and income generation, adding the integrating climate change into the WASH sector would reduce the threat reflected in flooding, loss of water sources due to decreasing rainfall and increasing demand for water.  “The time has come when the ministers from Ministries of Environment, Health and Finance should commit to prioritise investment in WASH service delivery, this will provide more value for everyone. 
“I wish to seize this opportunity to recommend that, climate resilience measures should be integrated in to water, sanitation and hygiene-(WASH) in order to reduce climate risk. I call on the Nigerian government to consider the need to revisit the National Climate Change Adaption Plan and Nationally Determined Contribution to ensure that WASH issues are included in these   important documents,” Benson said.

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