88 views | Kenechukwu Ofomah | March 27, 2021
Awka – Only 9% of the Nigerian population has access to combined water, sanitation and hygiene services.
A breakdown further shows that 60 million people, that is 30% of the population, lack access to clean water, 112 million people (56% of the population) lack decent toilets, while 46 million people (23% of the population) practice open defecation.
This is according to statistics as contained in a report titled ‘Turn the tide: The state of the world’s water 2021’, issued by WaterAid, an international not-for-profit organization, working in 28 countries of the world, to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people.
The report aimed to show how people are losing access to clean water, due to environmental and manmade factors.
Speaking with TNC correspondent on Friday, the WaterAid Nigeria’s Head of Advocacy, Policy and Communications, Kolawole Banwo, said the very poor statistics in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector is driven basically by weak governance- the absence of necessary policy, plans and institutional framework and also the capacity to ensure that the sector works well.
He said Nigeria is a Federal State, with Federal, State and the local governments, all of whom has responsibilities to ensure that people have access to water, but said the absence of plans and policies at all levels, which must be well coordinated to ensure that things work well, is the issue.
“Linked to this, is also the issue of funding. Without the right policies and investment plans, capacity assessment plans, you cannot invest properly in the sector over a long period, to have sustainable water supply.
“And when you consider that lack of access to water supply happens in the hard-to-reach communities, where we have people who cannot support themselves in this area, it makes the issue more worrisome.
“Government must be deliberate to have the right policies in place, to ensure that it invests well to target the poor and the vulnerable and rural communities where the majority of the population resides,” he said.
On how to address the anomaly, Banwo advocated that all stakeholders must put their hands on deck.
According to him, the government, the private sector and the citizens are key players and have very critical responsibilities.
“On its part, Government must ensure that the right policies are in place at the Federal level. States must buy in into these policies as the National Action plan, establish their own policies at the state levels, pass the necessary legislations, establish the necessary institutions that can drive it and acquire the necessary professional expertise in terms of manpower to drive the sector. It must also accompany that with sustainable funding over a long period of time, to ensure they are implemented and then follow them up with effective monitoring and evaluation to ensure compliance with the strategies.
“The Private Sector and Investors need to support the sector with research and development and ensure healthy water and waste management policies so they do not contribute to water stress in the communities. They should also key into government plans in terms of Corporate Social Responsibilities in the sector.
“Citizens should endeavour to pay the necessary water tariffs to ensure there is cost recovery, for government to have the resources to manage and maintain water schemes. Communities must also take up the responsibility of ensuring that water projects in their localities are protected and maintained,” he suggested.
The WaterAid Nigeria’s advocacy and policy head, also spoke of the harsh implication of climate change for the sector, adding that investing in water systems that provide a reliable supply, whatever the weather, is a frontline defense against the impact of climate change that will also aid the realization of Sustainable Development Goal 6- Clean Water and sanitation for all.
In his words, “Climate change results in extreme weather conditions, temperatures are high in some places and are increasing. Bad Storms and flood can pollute water sources. In the event of delayed rainfall and prolonged dry season, water bodies dry up and the ground water level are going deeper and people have to deep dipper to get water. Instances of climate change in Nigeria exist in Delta, Bayelsa, Adamawa, Yobe, Borno, and other Northeast region generally as well as in the Lake Chad Region. Rivers are going dry. People are being displaced and competition for water is becoming intense because humans and livestock are competing for fewer water sources and this is a reality that the country is facing.”