CSOs Worry over Delay by Gov Emmanuel to Sign Water Bill into Law

Okon Bassey in Uyo

Stakeholders in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector have called for the immediate intervention by the Akwa Ibom State Government and other agencies in order to reduce open defecation in the state.

The call was as a result of the report of a survey carried out by the state  Ministry of Lands and Water Resources in conjunction with other relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), which ranked the state as one of the highest in open defecation.

The Head of Department in-charge of Water Resources Directorate in Ministry of Lands and Water Resources, Assumpta Udousoro, disclosed this at a WASH forum organised by the African Centre for Human Development (AHDC), and other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Uyo, the state capital.

According to Udousoro, only Nsit Atai Local Government Area out of the 31 LGAs in the state has been certified by the survey and given clean bill with open- defecation- free status.

She, therefore, stressed the need for a holistic action by stakeholders with effective sensitisation, education and enlightenment programmes to stem the menace.

Also, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of AHDC, Prof. Gabriel Umoh, blamed the menace on poor funding of the water sector and  implementation of the WASH policy by the state government and other stakeholders.

He said: “Only a paltry 1.31 percent of the budgetary allocation goes to the water sector,” which he said required between five to seven percent to tackle problems in the sector adequately.

The executive director called on the state Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, to reposition the sector in order to be able to address WASH challenges effectively.

Umoh recalled that the state House of Assembly had since July concluded work on the Water Bill and transmitted it to the governor for assent, but regretted that “it is still yet to be signed into law.”

International interventionist agencies, including USAID, EU, UNICEF and some local CSOs, he noted, had been committing to addressing challenges in the sector, but barely enough to fully mitigate the crisis which he added posed epidemic to the population, especially in the rural communities.

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