The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said about 57 million Nigerians lack access to safe water supply, and more than half of these people live in the rural community.
The UNICEF WASH Specialist, Mr Moustapha Niang, who revealed this yesterday, at a two-day media dialogue on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, noted that poor sanitation and hygiene is still a major problem in the country.
According to him. about 46 million people still practise open defecation. “rural people still drink water from rural lakes, ponds, streams and irrigation canals. About 130 million people use unimproved sanitation”, he said.
He revealed that poor access to water and sanitation hygiene,(WASH) has killed 45,000 under five children annually in the country, which is why there is a need for urgent action.
In his speech, The acting General Manager of Akwa-Ibom State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, Mr Idongesit Ido, said with the release of the counterpart funds from the Akwa Ibom state governor, 30 solar power mini water schemes and 24 sanitation facilities have been awarded to contractors and some of them have already been delivered.
Also, The Akwa Ibom state governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel who was represented at the media dialogue by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Political, Legislative Affairs and Water Resources, Mr Nse Edem disclosed that the state government is providing new strategic policies that would ensure the provision of potable water across the state.
UNICEF Communication Specialist Nigeria, Mr Geoffrey Njoku, explained the interventions of UNICEF and the EU in water and sanitation project in the Niger Delta which include Delta, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Bayelsa and Rivers states.
He appealed to newsmen to help promote awareness on the importance of water, sanitation and Hygiene.
He explained that the media dialogue on WASH was organised by UNICEF with supports from the European Union to boost the understanding of the journalists on issues that concerned water, sanitation and hygiene as they affect child survival.
According to him, “this media dialogue is aimed at promoting advocacy for water and sanitation, understanding of the link between water and child survival and the roles of UNICEF and EU as well as their efforts in water, sanitation and hygiene in Nigeria.”
Another UNICEF WASH Specialist, Ms Martha Hokonya enumerated the benefits of provision of potable water and urged journalists to do the needful in prompting the government to invest in the provision of potable water.