Nigeria is at the precipice of a water, sanitation and hygiene catastrophe, says WaterAid International, which adds that 33% (about 60 million) of people in Nigeria are currently living without adequate access to water, and that 67% (over 120 million people) do not have a decent toilet and 26% (about 47 million people) practice open defecation. Accessibility, availability and quality vary widely in Nigeria, with national averages masking significant inequalities between subnational regions, notes the organisation.
In a new brief launched this week titled: “How to reach everyone with safe water and sanitation by 2030”, WaterAid says urgent action to finance water and sanitation, to integrate it with efforts on health, nutrition and other related development, and to make progress sustainable is essential to reach everyone, everywhere. Faster progress on all three will save lives, boost development and change the lives of billions of people living in extreme poverty globally. For every $1 spent on water and sanitation, on average $4 is returned in economic benefits.
The Nigerian government must prioritise clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene for people across the country, if Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the provision of clean water and decent sanitation for everyone everywhere – is to be reached by 2030, international charity, WaterAid, points out.
WaterAid Nigeria is urging the government to take action ahead of the UN’s High Level Political Forum in New York in July, where Goal 6 will come under review. Without water, decent sanitation and good hygiene, other SDGs, including those on gender equality, education, health, reducing inequalities and nutrition, cannot be achieved.
Without access to these basic amenities, men, women and children in Nigeria will remain trapped in a cycle of poverty and disease, while being denied their basic human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.
Dr ChiChi Aniagolu-Okoye, Country Director of WaterAid Nigeria, said: “We are at a critical juncture in the fight to get clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene to the people of Nigeria and across the world.
“We know that if everyone, everywhere was able to access clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene, then we could help end the scourge of extreme poverty and create a more sustainable future. But we have to act now to make this a reality. The Nigerian government must prioritise water, sanitation and hygiene – the basic building blocks of any prosperous community – ensuring proper financing is put in place to build a more sustainable country today and for future generations. The people of Nigeria will be watching.”