…says 63 million Nigeria don’t have access to water
Chris Steven, Abuja
Indications have emerged that Nigeria may not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 6 which is clean water and sanitation as 63million Nigerians which represents 39 percent of the nation’s population don’t have access to clean or safe water.
This is as another 112million Nigerians also don’t have access to improved sanitation.
This was disclosed in Abuja on Monday by the Head of Progrmmes, Oxfam, Mr. Constant Tchona at a media briefing on World Water Day Celebration.
The situation, Tchona said, if not quickly addressed may threaten the chance of Nigeria meeting the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) which is “Clean water and Sanitation” .
According to him, nearly 800 million people around the world have no access to water even as he remarked that many more people are without access to sanitation.
He lamented that nearly 3.5 million people die annually from water-related diseases with about 1.7 million children under the age of 5 among the people who die each year from diarrhea disease.
“In Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa with an estimated population of 170 million people, access to safe water and sanitation is a major challenge with about 39% (63 million people) of the population lacking access to safe or clean water sources while nearly 112 million people are without access to improved sanitation despite the progress made by the MDG project,” he said
Tchona expressed concerns that water and sanitation coverage rates in Nigeria are still amongst the lowest in the world saying “unless we improve our efforts, the SDG 6 “Clean water and Sanitation” may not be achieved”.
He added that the water and sanitation challenge in Nigeria however goes beyond questions of access as young girls are forced to drop out of school due to a lack of sanitation facilities while women are harassed or assaulted as they trek long distances, through the bush to collect and carry water home or when going to the bush to defecate due to the lack of access to a public toilet.
The Oxfam Head Programme further lamented that, the poorest and most vulnerable members of society often have little choice but to buy water from informal vendors at prices estimated to be 20 to 100 per cent higher than that of their richer neighbours, who receive piped city water in their homes or can afford to sink boreholes.
” This is not just unsustainable; it is unacceptable,” he said
He however urged governments at all tiers to recognize the water crisis currently confronting the nation for what it is describing it as a crisis of governance, weak policies and poor management, rather than one of scarcity.
“Let us also pledge to reverse the alarming decline in pro poor investment in water and sanitation and give recognition to and protect the basic labour rights of water sector workers.
And let us reaffirm our commitment to ending the plight of the more than 63 million Nigerians who, in a world of plenty, still do not have the safe drinking water and the 112 million people, who still do not have the sanitation they need for a life in dignity and good health. For, without enough quantity and good quality water and sanitation, human health is negatively impacted on and economic productivity declines: people become sick and unable to work,” he said