COVID-19: 150m Nigerians lack access to safe water, precautionary facilities

By Rotimi Ojomoyela

Ado Ekiti — The Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, Dr Hephzibah Oladebeye and the Commissioner for Public Utilities in Ekiti, Mr Bamidele Faparusi on Tuesday identified the reason behind the spread of the Covid-19 in Nigeria.

The duo disclosed that Covid-19 spread has been difficult to tame in Nigeria because about 150 million Nigerians lack access to safe water and other precautionary facilities.

They stated that about 60 million Nigerians also lack access to clean water services, hence, the increasing morbidity and mortality rates, which result in low life expectancy of the citizens.

They spoke on Tuesday during the 2020 Engineering Week organised by Nigerian Society of Engineers(NSE), Ekiti chapter in Ado Ekiti .

The theme of this year’s programme focused on: ‘The Role of Adequate Water Supply , Sanitation and Hygiene Infrastructure to Combating the Spread of Covid 19 in Nigeria’.

Oladebeye revealed that the geometric spread of the Covid 19 infection was gradually assuming a frightening and disturbing dimension, saying unfettered access to water and other precautionary facilities are necessary to save the citizenry from serious affliction.

“As the coronavirus spread all over the world, it is increasingly clear that people with the least access to essential services like water will feel the traumatic effect.

“Sustainable Development Goals 2019 report in Nigeria revealed that about 60m people lack access to clean water supply and 150m lack basic handwashing facilities with soap and water.

“From the foregoing, stakeholders must recognise and be committed to prioritizing access to clean water and decent toilets as basic human rights and must ensure provision of these services at this most critical time when they have been proven to be crucial to fighting Covid 19”.

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Buttressing the statistics reeled out by the Rector, the State’s Commissioner for Public Utilities, Bamidele Faparusi, expressed dismay that about 24 percent of the Nigerian population have limited access to Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene(WASH), which he said made the Covid 19 challenge more traumatic and daunting.

Faparusi disclosed that Ekiti State has been upping the game to ensuring adequate water supply, by investing over $55 million on the maintenance of Ero and Egbe dams, as well as reticulation of water to 10 local governments.

“Ekiti are partnering world bank, European Union, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Wateraid in the WASH sector reform with massive infrastructure investment in the maintenance of dams and reticulation of water to Ado Ekiti capital city and nine other council areas.

“Ekiti is one of the leading states in the fight against Covid 19, but only 8 percent of the population has access to basic water sanitation and hygiene with only 27 percent having access to handwashing facilities and soap.

“To be able to fight Covid 19 pandemic, government at all levels must rehabilitate all the WASH facilities as a short term response to Covid 19, while budgetary provisions to water supply must increase by government at all levels to attract private participation”.

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