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FG, UNICEF dialogues with media on water, sanitation

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The Federal Government in collaboration with The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), have stressed the importance of water and sanitation in safeguarding the health of the children.

This was emphasised yesterday during a 2-day media dialogue with journalists on Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Project held in Jos, Plateau State.

In his presentation, the UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Abuja, Zaid Jurji, said investment in water and sanitation is necessary in order for Nigeria to meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Jurji said Nigeria needs to triple its investment in water and sanitation as well as increase budget allocation to water and sanitation.

“According to world bank estimate in 2015, in order for Nigeria to be able to meet the SDG by 2030, It should increase the percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) allocation to WASH by minimum of 1.7 per cent which is an estimated $8b on annual basis until 2030. This is achievable if water becomes a priority.
At the community level, there is a need for them to work at sustainability,” he said.

According to him, only less than 10 per cent of water in Nigeria is suitable for drinking. Quoting a survey conducted by National Bureau of Statistics in collaboration with UNICEF, known as The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), he revealed that, “More than 90 per cent of water sources in Nigeria are contaminated and unsuitable for drinking. Water is available to about two third of the population but this doesn’t mean that the water is suitable for drinking.”

The external factors that make water unsuitable for drinking are nearness to laterine and sewage. Open defecation can also make water unsuitable for drinking despite how much effort we put in to make it suitable”.

Jurji mentioned that 25 per cent of the population in Nigeria practise open defecation, according to the MICS report.

“Having access to WASH is a human right, Nigeria is assigned to meet the SDG by 2013 and this involves ensuring that people have access to water and sanitation,” he added.

Earlier on, during his opening remark, the deputy director, Child Right Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr Olumide Osanyinpeju, commended UNICEF and European Union for their role in improving water and sanitation in Nigeria through the WASH project.

According to him, “It is a fact that UNICEF and EU has been in the forefront of ensuring that we have access to safe drinking water supply, adequate sanitation and proper hygiene in our environment and communities.”

Speaking further, Osanyinpeju said WASH remained very important in the life of a Child and significant to achieving Sustaining Development Goal 6. He noted that water is essential for the survival and development of all children.

His words: “Without water, children simply cannot stay alive or thrive in a healthy environment. Water resources, and the range of services they provide strengthen poverty reduction, economic growth and environmental sustainability.

“Sanitation is essential to the survival and development of children. Open defecation is incredibly dangerous, as contact with human waste can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhoea, worm infestation and undernutrition.”

Osanyinpeju said there was a need to improve on water and sanitation in order to end Open Defecation by 2030. He maintained that simple hygiene such as hand washing can save lives.

According to him; “Washing hands with soap after going to the toilet or before eating can have a significant impact on children’s health. Good hygiene practices reduce the incidence of diseases such as pneumonia, trachoma, scabies, skin and eye infections and diarrhoea-related diseases like cholera and dysentery.”

“Research has also shown that regular hand washing with soap can reduce the incidents of diarrhoea, a disease which can be deadly to children.”

In the same vein, The Plateau state Commissioner for Water Resources and Energy, Engineer David Wuyep who declared the Media Dialogue open, commended UNICEF for its intervention in the provision of water in the state and assured that the state government will always ensure prompt payment of counterpart funds.


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