WaterAid Nigeria , a Non-Governmental Organisation has said that more than 116 million Nigerians lack access to decent toilets in their homes, a factor that caused over 38 million of them to engage in open defecation.
Evelyn Mere, Acting Country Director of WaterAid Nigeria made this revelation in Abuja on Thursday, 18, July 2019 at the launch of a sensitization campaign tagged, ‘Keep Your Promises’.
She said the crisis in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector applies to all schools, for example, 50 per cent of all schools in Nigeria do not have basic water supply and sanitation facilities while 50 per cent of health care facilities lack clean water and 88 per cent of them lack basic sanitation.
According to the Country Director, close to sixty thousand children die before they start school from diseases caused by poor levels of access to WASH. She said the time has come for the media to begin to inform citizens to ask duty bearers what their individual stands are on issues like water, sanitation and hygiene.
Mrs Mere added that the situation pushed WaterAid Nigeria to launch the “VOTE4WASH” campaign, during the 2019 general elections, which rounded up successfully, with 120 signed pledge cards from electoral aspirants and politicians including, governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed and former speaker house of representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
Speaking further on why WaterAid Nigeria launched the campaign, she revealed that politicians do not fulfill their electoral campaigns or promises and many of the promises were left unactivated.
“Experience has shown us that many campaign promises in the past have been largely unfulfilled, unmet and without clear and convincing plans for actualising them,” she said.
The Director also revealed that the NGO would use the ” keep Your Promises” as a means to raise awareness among the electorates on how to keep tabs on campaign promises of politicians and on how to hold these politicians accountable
“We will use the platform to keep them accountable to their commitments on increasing budget allocation for WASH services as well as to effectively utilise appropriated funds,” she added
Mr. Hamzat Lawal, the Executive Director of Connected Development, an NGO dedicated to ending open defecation in Nigeria, while speaking at the event, said WASH crisis is something that Nigeria can no longer afford.
Nigeria can no longer afford to not tackle this crisis. Why? Because this costs us 1.7 billion naira annually,” he said.
It would be recalled Nigeria’s Minister For Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu in March this year warned that Nigeria will become the number one open defecation practising country when Indian becomes open defecation free in October.
According to him, access to sanitation has been on the decline from 30 per cent in 2010 to 28 per cent in 2015. Open defecation has been on the increase and there was not a single LGA in Nigeria that is open defecation free.
“It is estimated that more than 48 million Nigerians practise open defecation and that placed Nigeria as second in the world behind Indian,” he added.
By Mike Odeh James
Kaduna Nigeria Reporter