‘Global goal on water, sanitation will transform our world’
AFTER the global commitment to end extreme poverty and ensure more sustainable planet, WaterAid Nigeria has urged leaders to deliver on the new UN Global Goals and leave no one behind.
At the weekend, world leaders including Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, met in New York at a summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda and to determine the next set of global goals that will help transform the world by 2030.
The 17 Global Goals on sustainable development aim to tackle extreme poverty, inequalities and climate change, including the water and sanitation crisis which kills half a million young children each year from preventable diarrhoeal diseases.
Global Goal six commits UN member-states to delivering access to safe water, basic sanitation and hygiene to everyone, everywhere by 2030. The inclusion of this goal is a victory for more than 650 million people in the world today without access to clean water and 2.3 billion people without access to safe, private toilets.
WaterAid Nigeria Country Representative, Dr. Michael Ojo said: “This is our chance to change the course of history and reach those who are poorest and most vulnerable. Water, sanitation and hygiene are fundamental to development and by delivering these essential services, the lives of hundreds of millions of people will be transformed. It is possible, with the right political commitment, innovative thinking and funding.”
In Nigeria, 31 per cent of households do not have access to clean water. The country, which is Africa’s most populous nation, has shown worsening trends across the board in the area of sanitation and hygiene, with decreasing access and increasing open defecation in both rural and urban areas. The percentage of the population without access to basic sanitation is an astounding 71 per cent while 25 per cent practice open defecation.
This crisis compromises the ability of children to attend school and that of adults to engage in income-generating work. It affects women and girls most, as they are largely often tasked with collecting water and are made more vulnerable to attack if they must relieve themselves in the open. They are also at higher risk of illness or infection in the absence of safe water, basic toilets and good hygiene.
A recent report by WaterAid, Essential Element, has found that 45 chronically underfunded high-priority countries have been left behind in financing for water, sanitation and hygiene services and will not be able to meet the UN goal to reach everyone with water and sanitation without targeted overseas aid and strong leadership that gives new political and financial prioritisation to the issue.
Nigeria, which is classed as a Lower Middle Income Country (LMIC) is among these 45 countries, most of which are post-conflict and fragile low income countries.
In each of these countries, half or more of the population do not have a safe place to relieve themselves. This pollutes their water supply and general environment and leaves people at high risk of illness.
This ambitious goal to deliver water and sanitation to all is achievable, but requires political will and financing. Specifically WaterAid is calling on the Nigerian Government to: deliver on their promise to achieve the new global goal on water, sanitation and hygiene to ensure everyone everywhere has these essentials by 2030; prioritise water, sanitation and hygiene programmes and to find new and effective ways of mobilising domestic resources; ensure that there are indicators to monitor progress for access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in homes, schools and healthcare facilities;
Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) also welcomes a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal on water. It is paramount for addressing our world’s water-related challenges. Water’s relevance to the implementation of the goals should not be limited to Goal six however. Access to water is a prerequisite for the achievement of the majority of the other goals such as poverty, health, food, energy, climate, and infrastructure.