Lack of access to WASH facilities raises risk of disease outbreaks

Toyin Ojora-Saraki, is a healthcare advocacy champion.

*Treat sources of water in affected rural communities to stop cholera epidemic

Worried by the lack of access to Water Sanitation and Health (WASH) facilities, Wife of the Senate President, Toyin Ojora Saraki has stated that Nigeria’s generation to come will be devastated if the government fails to provide the necessary investment in WASH facilities and honour its recent promises.

In a statement issued Tuesday in Abuja by the Well-being Foundation to commemorate global hand washing day, Saraki lamented that the current infrastructure is inadequate for the current population and entirely unfit for the years ahead.

She said: “Government must lead the way, achieving economies of scale in densely populated areas by providing piped water and not forcing individual families or streets to rely on their own sources”

“As the World Bank report rightly highlights, this also allows for the proper regulation of groundwater, essential in the fight against pollution. For all of Nigeria, the tripling of current WASH spending is an absolute imperative.””Nigeria, which is certainly embracing Global Handwashing Day enthusiastically, and in April of this year, the Federal Government declared a state of national WASH emergency, hinged upon a 13-year revitalization strategy. This must be properly funded and implemented across Nigeria,” she said.

According to Saraki, 15 percent of completed works on public water infrastructure are considered to be of unsatisfactory quality, and nearly 30 percent of water points and water schemes fail within their first year of operation.She maintained that access to piped water on premises in urban areas has decreased substantially, from a level, which was already critical.

She added: “Across most water-utility indicators, Nigeria underperforms in comparison to African and global averages and needs to invest at least three times more than it does today to achieve the WASH sustainable development goals.”She expressed the foundations commitment to improving hygiene practices as well as impacting more than two million children over the next years.

Meanwhile, to curb the spread of cholera outbreak in the country, Zenith Water Project has urged the federal government to ensure treatment of water sources in the affected communities to improve the water quality

The Managing Director Zenith Water Project, Ibe Nicholas, who stated this at the sidelines of the 2018 global hand washing day celebration yesterday in Abuja, said government could tackle the spread of the disease by treating the community water source instead of spending so much money preventing the spread of the disease.He said: “The whole idea is not to keep pumping money through the health sector to keeping on treating people of cholera disease and people still go back to the same water source and take the same water that has not been adequately treated.”

Stressing the need to ensure that quality water is provided for Nigerians, he said “People have to be made to understand that water kills it is only clean water that is life, that a water is clear does not make the water clean.”Nicholas stressed that the role of private sector was to provide sustainable water projects to treat the water source in the rural areas that have been affected and make sure the water quality is good adding that there was need to keep educating the people.

He said although Zenith Water Project is a private sector company, but they have been working with the government and other agencies in promoting water for all in Nigeria and beyond adding that they are also members of the Sanitation Water for All (SWA) under the auspices of United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).He said the aim of SWA whose member spanning from Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), government, private sector, donor agencies among others was to ensure that all partners work together to tackle the challenges that come from lack of access to water and sanitation.

Stressing the need for the private sector to work closely with the government in sensitizing Nigerians on the importance of sanitation.If the mortality rate from bacteria infection that comes from lack of access to water and sanitation is high, it will have adverse effect of poor water and sanitation, Nicholas stressed that private sector must begin to work closing with the government to ensure attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.

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