Stakeholders in Enugu state have expressed concerns over the nonchalant attitude of elected political office holders in the area of water sanitation and hygiene (WASH), challenging the citizens to rise up and demand for their rights.
They regretted that the sector has over the years been relegated to the background by policy makers, at the local, state and federal government levels,positing that such ugly development had continued to endanger the lives of millions of Nigerians, especially in the rural communities.
An international agency, with bias in water and hygiene issues, WaterAid Nigeria, had in a summary report it released on the implementation of the 2019 Vote 4 WASH electoral campaign in Nigeria this year, hinted that about 55 million people do not have access to clean water in Nigeria, while 116 million lack access to basic sanitation
The report further revealed that 43 million rural dwellers lack access to clean water, while 12 million urban residents lack access to the essential commodity, stressing that unsafe water and inadequate sanitation are two of the greatest drivers of world poverty and inequality.
According to the report, 40 million people in Nigeria practice open defecation and 110 lack basic hand washing facilities with soap and water.
The stakeholders, who gathered Wednesday in Enugu at an event to x- ray the vote 4 WASH campaign, and “Keep your promises campaign” put together by WaterAid in collaboration with an Enugu based non- governmental organisation, Global Health Awareness Research Foundation, called on Nigerian leaders to always deliver on their water and sanitation campaign promises.
They noted that clean water and good sanitation are essential for sustainable social and economic development, pointing out that access to these services are basic human rights, but regretted that the Nigerian reality does not reflect the aforementioned principles.
In her remarks, president of GHARF, Professor (Mrs) ObiomaNwaorgu, disclosed that her organisation was partnering with WaterAidNigeria, and Enugu state government to implement the San Mark Expansion Scale-up (SES) programme in the state towards improving access to WASH services through collaboration with key sector actors.
“Usually, during elections, our people demand money from politicians in exchange for votes. In the recent 2019 general elections, WaterAid and patterns decided to change this reality,with vote 4 WASH campaign. That is encouraging voters to vote for candidates who are committed to providing access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene services.
The WaterAid officer, in charge of programmemonitoring, evaluation and representative in Enugu state, Mr. Eta Eteta, said the gathering was aimed at bringing stakeholders together to found out if the politicians are truly keeping to their 2019 campaign promises on issues relating to (WASH) in the Enugu state.
Permanent Secretary, Enugu state Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs. Ada Nwoye, and Special Assistant to governor IfeanyiUgwuanyi on water Resources, Mr. DubemOnyia (Junior), had in their separate speeches, said the state government is always disposed towards implementing human oriented water policies.