By Vincent Ujumadu
AS Nigeria joins other nations to mark the 2023 World Water Day celebration, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has made a forecast that the country might not meet the Sustainable Development Goal, SDG, global requirement on water supply by 2030, going by poor investment in the sector.
The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, specialist at the UNICEF Field Office, Enugu, Mr. Timi Kiakubu said at a press conference to mark the occasion that it would require the country about 16 years to achieve the SDG on water supply.
According to him, although interphase with government has been positive, progress has not accelerated as much as UNICEF wants in terms of meeting the SDGs by 2030.
He said: “One of the key aspects of SDGs as it relates to water is access to safely managed water. The water must come from an improved source such that it is protected from contamination. It must also be available on premises and available when needed.
“When we look at the SDGs within the eight states covered by the Enugu Field Office, the statistics is very low. It ranges from 13% to 40% of access to safe drinking water.
“The situation is even more scary when we consider availability of water in health facilities, educational institutions and even government offices. It is therefore a very big challenge.
“In the eight states that we cover, the progress in water availability is marginal. In fact, we are retrogresing. We are therefore taking the advantage of the World Water Day to remind all of us of the need for state institutions and partners to scale up investment for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, and other health facilities.
“If we continue at the current rate, it will take about 16 years to achieve the SDG on water. What it means is that the country should work four times as hard as it doing by emphasizing on adequate planning, adequate resource allocation and mobilization, forming partnerships and making WASH a topical issue.
“The children we represent in UNICEF don’t have a voice and so we should do everything possible to make water supply a reality in their schools, health institutions and homes.”
Acknowledging that there are competing priorities of government, Kiakubu argued that such issues, like Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, should be brought to the front burner in terms of budget allocation and fund disbursement.
He also called for the strengthening of national institutions to carry out evidence -based and data planning to help achieve the desired goals.
The Chief of Field Office of UNICEF, Enugu, Mrs. Juliet Chiluwe said the world body has a passion for water availability because of what its supply could do for the child.
“In UNICEF, we are ready to partner with state institutions to ensure that we achieve our objectives. So the World Water Day is a wakeup call to institutions to do an analysis of what had been done and the way forward.
“It is not enough to provide water, but also to ensure that there is long time supply which could only be achieved through proper investment.
“UNICEF has limited resources and that is why it ensures that available resources are properly utilized. We have developed certain models that government can leverage on and be able to get things done”, she said.
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