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Nigeria is far from having clean water

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By Nicole

Nigeria and other African countries should prioritize investment in sanitation.

Seven years after the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, SDGS, expired, Barrister Cordelia Agbo, President of the Nigeria Network of Women Professionals in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), claimed Nigeria was still far from reaching universal access to clean water. In the face of climate change and population increase, Nigeria and other African countries have been advised to prioritize investment in water and sanitation. Agbo said on the sidelines of the 21st African Water Association International Congress and Exhibition- 7th International Faecal Sludge Management Conference in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, that the incoming Nigerian government should look into the water and sanitation sectors to ensure that Nigerians have access to safe drinking water.

She regretted that, although providing its counterpart financing for several water and sanitation projects provided to some of the country’s states by AfWSA, the government failed to monitor the projects’ full implementation. AfWA granted money to three Nigerian states for faecal sludge in 2020, and they pledged to come to Nigeria for training; however, the government has not adequately monitored those programs. Nigeria must investigate and insure that fecal waste is no longer a waste for us; in certain nations, such as South Africa, wastewater is transformed into potable water. They created drinking water from effluent. These are the types of initiatives that the Nigerian government should pursue.

The government should invest more in water and sanitation.

The African Water and Sanitation Association’s (AfWSA) President, Dr. Eng Silver Mugisha, underlined the need of government investment in water and sanitation during his speech at the congress’ opening ceremony. He recalled that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the water and sanitation sector in Africa experienced a number of difficulties, and that the pandemic exacerbated those difficulties. All of these factors pointed to a potentially excessive load for the water and sanitation sector in Africa, he continued.

According to Dr. Mugisha, the subject of the congress emphasized the task ahead of Africa as it works to bridge the gap between water, sanitation, and people, as well as achieve progress toward Africa’s SDG6 and Agenda 2063. He stated that the issues that African water and sanitation companies face are well-known and systemic. They include weak corporate governance systems, top utility leadership mixes that place insufficient emphasis on smart solutions and actions while instead focusing on position, little belief in self-sufficiency and do-it-yourself mindsets, strategic plans with insufficient clarity and home-grown solution intents, ageing infrastructure, rapid urbanization that strains existing water systems, and insufficient infrastructure financing as a result of foundational weaknesses such as operational inefficiencies.

60 million Nigerians without access to basic drinking water.

In 2018 the government of Nigeria proclaimed the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector to be in a state of emergency.  In 2019, a combination of inadequate infrastructure, a lack of essential human capacity, low investment, and a deficient supporting regulatory environment, among other difficulties, meant that around 60 million Nigerians lacked basic drinking water access. 80 million people did not have access to adequate sanitation, and 167 million did not have access to basic handwashing facilities. In rural regions, 39% of families lack access to at least basic water supplies, while only half have access to improved sanitation and almost a third (29%) practice open defecation, a percentage that has changed only little since 1990.

Women and girls bear a disproportionate share of the burden of insufficient WASH services. They suffer the burden of long-distance water collection, which has been linked to poor consequences on well-being, school attendance, and an increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV). Access to WASH can benefit years of schooling by freeing up time spent by children collecting water to attend school, lowering the prevalence of disease that can keep them out of school, and contributing to a safe and healthy learning environment while at school. President Muhammadu Buhari declared a State of Emergency in 2018 and launched the National Action Plan (NAP), a 13-year strategy for the Revitalization of Nigeria’s Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH). The sector aimed at ensuring universal access to sustainable and safely managed WASH services by 2030, commensurate with the Sustainable Development Goals.

There should be universal access to sustainable WASH services by 2030.

With the assistance of the World Bank and other development partners, the Federal Government of Nigeria has launched measures to address identified gaps that have hampered individuals’ access to safe and portable water. One of these initiatives was the National Urban Water Sector Reform Program (NUWSRP). The NUWSRP specified numerous goals, including sector reform, water utility sustainability and commercial viability, infrastructure improvement, service dependability and performance enhancement, and greater access to excellent piped water networks in urban areas across the country.

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