As the world commemorates this year’s World Water Day under the umbrella theme set by UN-Water, ‘leaving no one behind’, WaterAid Nigeria and the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) are calling for stronger protections against overuse and misuse of water supply and an acceleration in the provision of sustainable WASH services for all so as to reach everyone and ensure no one is left behind.
The collaboration between PIND and WaterAid is aimed at bringing together various key stakeholders further re-enforces the need for actors in WASH and related sectors, to work together towards improving access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in and should be normal for everyone, everywhere. Regrettably, the progress made since 2000 in delivering clean water to 1.5 billion people globally is now under threat.
In its 2019 State of the World’s Water report, ‘Beneath the Surface’, WaterAid warns that the human right to water must take priority ahead of other competing demands otherwise we will be leaving unserved populations behind in the race to get clean water to everyone, everywhere by 2030.
Unsustainable production of products for export, combined with consumers’ increasing desire for water-intensive products, may leave poor communities struggling to access clean water.
While exports of food and goods are important sources of income, production must be made sustainable, and industrial and agricultural use of water should not be prioritised over people’s ability to get water for their basic needs.
Some 844 million people around the worldare denied access to clean water simply because of who they are, how much money they have, or where they live. In Nigeria, nearly 60 million people do not have clean water close to home.
Lacking access to this basic need means people are deprived of an equal chance to be healthy, educated, improve livelihoods and be financially secure. Women, girls, people living with disabilities and other vulnerable groups are especially at a higher risk of bearing the brunt of a lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene and this World Water Day is a reminder that everyone must be carried along and included.
According to Country Director, WaterAid Nigeria, Dr ChiChi Aniagolu-Okoye, “This year’s World Water Day theme‘leaving no one behind’ could not have been more apt in recognising the reality that marginalised groups – women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and the elderly – are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination in their quest to access and manage the clean water they need to live daily.
She added that most of the people affected live in hard-to-reach communities – riverine, uphill and interior areas that account for a significant percentage of the country’s total population.
To keep advocating and contribute to delivering fair, inclusive and effective access to water across Nigeria, WaterAid and the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) hosted stakeholders from the government and private sector as well as development partners and civil society organisations to a roundtable on sustainable access to and management of inclusive safe water sources.
Lessons learned as well as shared experiences and best practices drawn from water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions across key stakeholders will form concrete recommendations into ongoing consultations around the recently launched National WASH Action Plan – a strategy document and guide that came out of the Federal Government’s formal declaration of a State of Emergency in Nigeria’s WASH sector.
Dr Dara Akala, Executive Director, PIND stated in a press statement that “The severity of water, sanitation and hygiene needs in Nigeria’s Niger Delta cuts across communities and institutions in urban, peri-urban and rural settings, with largely dysfunctional and non-existent WASH facilities, and polluted water sources. This contributes very highly to WASH related disease burden with consequent health, economic and education impacts.
“Unequal access to water fuelled by a growing demand on water resources and the impact of climate and population changes, traps people in poverty and limits potential.
“The push for economic development must not imperil current and future generations’ access to water. Unless everyone has access to clean water, there can be no sustainable economic development.” said Akala.