The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has called for the reversal of the situation where the lack of clean water and poor sanitary conditions have caused the death of many Nigerians.
Osinbajo made the observation at the launch of the Partnership for the Expanded Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) and unveiling of the National Water Resources and Irrigation Policy in Abuja on Monday.
The vice president acknowledged that in spite of efforts made by previous administrations, the country had yet to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation due to poor coordination among the stakeholders and the inability to harness the required funds.
“It is also a well-known fact that Nigeria did not achieve targets of the Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation, Prof. Yemi said.
“Some of the reasons adduced for this include primarily the lack of effective coordination among the stakeholders and the inability to harness the required funds.
“Unfortunately, statistics show that over 66 million Nigerians still lack access to safe water, while 110 million do not have adequate sanitation.
“Consequently, large numbers of children under the age of five die annually from diarrhoea-related diseases and these are mostly traceable to unsafe drinking water.
“The situation is even more depressing in the rural areas, where polluted ponds and streams remain the only sources of water for drinking and other household chores.
“This trend must change.’’
Osinbajo noted that successive governments in collaboration with development partners had contributed to efforts geared towards improving access to water supply and sanitation services.
According to him some successes have been recorded in a number of areas as access to water supply presently is at 69 per cent and sanitation is at 29 per cent.
“But still this is still a far cry from what is needed.
“Indeed with an ever increasing population and a drive to self-sufficiency in food production, the demand for water supply and sanitation services will continue to increase.’’
He remarked that excess water or insufficient water not properly managed was devastating to both man and the environment adding that an innovative and holistic approach was required toward closing the access gaps.
Osinbajo observed that the Ministry of Water Resources had concluded work on the national water resources policy and the national irrigation policy and both had been approved by the federal executive council.
He said the policy provided the framework which would guide the activities of all stakeholders in the sector especially in the administration’s renewed focus on agriculture as revenue earner and contributor to GDP.
He added that the policy would facilitate the development of irrigation infrastructure in the country.
The vice president said he was informed that PEWASH would provide a new collaborative and systematic approach to the achievement of an increased universal access to sustainable rural water supply and sanitation services involving relevant stakeholders.
He expressed satisfaction with the inclusion of the beneficiary communities, local government areas, state governments, development partners, donor agencies, the organized private sector and the federal government.
He also said it was gratifying that the initiative also took cognizance of special groups such as the vulnerable and people living with disabilities through this well-structured framework for project delivery.
“It is expected that the implementation of PEWASH will help to attain our targets of increased rural water supply and sanitation and improved public health as well as expected positive impact on economic growth and human development.’’
The vice president commended the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, for his strong belief and practice of policy-driven initiatives.
He said it was clear that the minister strongly subscribed to the view that the way of ensuring sustainable attainment was to ensure that they were based on robust policy.
Osinbajo also commended the development partners involved in the initiative for their commitment and officials of the ministry for their hard work.
He, therefore, urged the stakeholders, especially the states and local governments, to participate in and commit to the success of the initiative in order that the common development goals of the nation would be achieved.