By Chesa Chesa
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday declared a state of emergency on Nigeria’s water supply, sanitation and hygiene sector, following spiraling preventable deaths arising from high-prevalence of water-borne diseases in different parts of the country.
Inaugurating the National Action Plan for Revitalization of Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector at the State House, the President stressed that “we cannot and will not continue to allow these preventable occurrences to decimate our population”.
He also directed government at all levels to redouble efforts and work towards meeting the nation’s water supply and sanitation needs.
He described statistics on open defecation, access to piped water services and sanitation in the country as ”disturbing”, warning that henceforth, Federal Government support to State Governments will be based on their commitment to implement the National WASH Action Plan in their respective States and to end open defecation by 2025.
”Access to piped water services which was 32% in 1990 has declined to 7% in 2015; access to improved sanitation has also decreased from 38% in 1990 to 29% in 2015.
”Our country now ranks No 2 in the global rating on Open Defecation as about 25% of our population are practicing open defecation.
”WASH services at the rural areas are unsustainable as 46% of all water schemes are non-functional, and the share of our spending on WASH sector has been declining from 0.70% of the GDP in 1990 to about 0.27% in 2015 which is far below the 0.70% at the West African regional level,” he said.
Buhari used the occasion, attended by State Governments and development partners, to reiterate that the provision of potable water supply, adequate sanitation and hygiene are primarily the responsibilities of State and Local Governments.
He added however, that these are not being given the required attention judging from the high prevalence of water-borne diseases that are being reported in different parts of the country.
Buhari told the gathering that he was aware that Nigeria did not meet the MDG targets for Water Supply and Sanitation that ended in 2015.
”The Sustainable Development Goals (MDGs) targets (6.1 & 6.2) for WASH are even more demanding as they require WASH services to be provided in adequate quantity and quality on premises at affordable prices.
”This cannot be achieved if we continue with ‘a business as usual’ approach. It is on this premise that I fully endorse the decision taken at the meeting of the Federal Executive Council in April this year to declare ‘a State of Emergency on our WASH Sector’.
”I call on all State Governments to complement this effort by according the sector similar recognition to enable us work together to achieve the SDG targets for WASH by 2030,’’ he said.
At the Federal level, the President pledged that his administration would continue to place priority on infrastructure development including those of water supply, sanitation and hygiene services towards ensuring a better life for Nigerians.