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Groups advocate regular hand washing to curb Covid-19

The Society for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (NEWSAN) and the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) have called on Nigerians to wholly  embrace hand washing as a daily routine to effectively curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic ravaging the world.

Global Handwashing Day
Pupils engaging in handwashing

Speaking at a workshop on Monday, July 27, 2020 in Abuja, NEWSAN National Coordinator, Mr. Benson Attah, emphasised the importance of the WASH activities in relation to the dreaded coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.

He noted that water as the gateway to citizens’ and country’s development affects all sectors, hence the need to upscale the ongoing awareness campaign among all stakeholders and the general public.

Attah stressed that strict adherence to WASH practices shall curb under-5 (years) mortality rate related to water borne diseases, adding that    establishment of WASH facilities would fast-track the reopening of schools in the nation.

He said: “It is also evident that coronavirus has come to stay, therefore, there is a rising need to intensify our interventions in curbing its spread through WASH campaign that we have been championing even before the Covid-19 outbreak.”

He explained that NEWSAN and SWA are partnering organisations that drive the process responsible for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in ensuring that stakeholders in the WASH sectors are committed to SDG 6 and their national development plan. He added that the essence of the workshop is to review the CSOs’ commitments being developed in 2019 with a wider stakeholders’ engagement.

The session was attended by the media, civil society groups, Federal Ministries of Health, Women Affairs, Water Resources, Education, Environment, National Orientation Agency, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and FCT RUWASA.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the forum, the group observed that there is a low level of compliance in most LGAs on ODF practices, as only 23 out of 774 LGAs are open defecation free.

The group noted that due to the fast spreading of Covid-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need to create awareness campaigns at the communities/households levels on WASH practices to effectively control and prevent the spread of the disease.

It lamented that some states are not complying with the guidelines of WASH sector while some related projects are being underfunded.

“It is obvious that federal government cannot fund all the projects, hence, private sectors and civil society groups should contribute their quota in achieving the national and global goals.”

NEWSAN reiterates its commitment to engage policy makers so as to hold them accountable for their compliance with Nigeria’s WASH sector’s 2014 and 2019 SWA commitments and Ngor Declaration by 2021, just as it urged the legislative arm of the government (federal and state) to enact law that will make it mandatory for both federal and state governments to construct public toilets in strategic locations in the LGAs across the nation.

NEWSAN also said it would intensify its engagement with the State Governors on a state-by-state basis through the Nigeria’s Governors’ Forum (NGF) and seek the support  of the legislators at both national and state levels to improve WASH services by 2021.

“In the management of public toilets, low user-fee(s) for users of such facilities should be introduced to encourage the private sector buy into it,” it added.

By Mustapha Suleiman

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