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WASH requires urgent intervention in Nigeria

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By Mercy Kelani

Over 70,000 under five-year-old children die of water-borne diseases annually.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) states that high morbidity and mortality rates among under five years Nigerian children is majorly caused by inaccessibility to improve water and Sanitation. Due to poor access to these necessities, children resort to contaminated drinking water and poor sanitary conditions which makes them more vulnerable to water-borne diseases, especially diarrhea, and is responsible for deaths of over 70,000 under five-year-old children every year. In every part of Nigeria, water, Sanitation and hygiene (WASH) requires urgent intervention for the safety of citizens and the environment.

WaterAid Nigeria in partnership with WASH Media Network and the Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN) are frontline organizations conducting intervention programs across the country and have worked in about 100 communities in different states. WaterAid also recently carried out a two-day workshop in the WASH project with the involvement of critical stakeholders, Civil Society organizations (CSOs), the media and researchers. This is done for the sake of creating awareness and strengthening the implementation of the African Sanitation Policy Guidelines (ASPG).

New rules would increase access to clean water and improved hygiene.

Guidelines (ASPG) were developed by the Secretariats of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) of which Nigeria is a member. The aim of the ASPG is to enable provision of guidance to African governments concerning implementation of Sanitation policies, revision, reviews and development. The ASPG document was published in 2021 under the study and review of WaterAid and its partners for publicity and smooth implementation of the policy at national, state and local levels to increase access to clean water, improved hygiene and proper Sanitation for Nigerians.

Interrogation of the progress of eradicating Sanitation/open-defecation/" target="_blank">Open Defecation by 2030, by stakeholders in the WASH project, for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was emphasized by the Country Director of WaterAid Nigeria, Evelyn Mere. She stated that WASH is amidst the purview of multiple Nigerian ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and the need for inter-ministerial collaboration for the achievement of safely managed Sanitation for all Nigerians. Civil societies and the media were also said to be useful for achieving the objectives.

Only 46 percent of Nigerians access basic sanitation services.

Expressing his remarks on the policy, the National Coordinator of WASH Media Network, Wale Elekolusi, asserted that the collaboration between CSOs and the media is important to tackle problems of water and Sanitation confronting Nigerians and aid easy implementation of the ASPG guidelines. Also, the National Coordinator of NEWSAN, Attah Benson, applauded WaterAid for the organization of an event that addresses WASH problems. He affirmed that the problems facing WASH policies is at the state and local levels and should be curbed by enactment of a workable policy.

At the two-day workshop, papers were presented on projects related to ASPG and WASH. The first paper – titled “Policies and Institution for Achieving Safely Managed Sanitation in Nigeria: Roles and Rules for CSOs and WASH Media” – was presented by Danladi Ephraim, a development consultant and researcher. The statistics of the presentation reveal that basic Sanitation services are accessed by only 46 percent of Nigerians; Sanitation/open-defecation/" target="_blank">Open Defecation, capacity constraints, fragmented institutional setup and many others are practiced by 23 percent.

ASPG addresses safe management of excreta and others.

The presentation of the second paper, “African Sanitation Policy Guidelines (ASPG): Standardization of WASH Policies for Maximum Impact,” was done by Kolawole Banwo, the Head of Advocacy, Policy and Communication of WaterAid. It was said that the policy serves as a platform for improvement of collaboration for speedy progress and also to enable provision of full access to safely managed situation to every Nigerian. He included that the ASPG concerns itself with the safe management of excreta, disposal of anal cleansing, associated hygiene practices, and menstrual hygiene materials.

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AMCOW: Sanitation-policy-guidelines-aspg" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Website

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