WaterAid and WASH CSOs partners during a press conference in Abuja, Nigeria

By Ndidichukwu Odoh

WaterAid and other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Nigeria says Nigeria is “off-track” from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals-6 as it has not clearly commenced plans on how to ensure access to clean water, and  sanitation for all.

Speaking to the media as WaterAid and its partners launched post-electoral “keep your Promises” campaign, Mrs. Evelyn Mere WaterAid Acting Director, said the partnership and launch of the campaign is to advocate to elected officials to honor their election campaign commitments to prioritise Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services and contribute to responding to the state of emergency in the WASH sector declared by the Nigerian government in 2018.

Prior to 2019 elections, the CSOs group in WASH, had made political aspirants sign-up a commitment to WASH during electioneering campaigns.

“we are glad that 80% of the politicians who singed-up won, what it means to us is that WASH won because they declared in paper and by word of mouth that they will support WASH for the people they represents, this campaign is for us to remind them and hold them accountable” said Ahmed Lawal, Program Lead of Connected Development.

A joint monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (JMP) lead by Nigeria in partnership with World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says 29% of the people in Nigeria (54.6 million) do not have access to clean water, 61% (116 million) do not have basic sanitation and 20% (37.8 million) are practicing open defecation. The WASH CSO group says the data shows that Nigeria still has a long way to go and is off-track to meet the SDGs 6 target on water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030.

“Nigerians have a huge role to play in the success of this campaign and in WASH governance in the country. We must hold our government accountable and demand for our rights to water and sanitation. When elected public officials and institutions are held accountable and governance is transparent, it increases the likelihood that these institutions and public officials will deliver on their mandate” Mere told a press conference in Abuja as the new campaign commences.

“today marks the beginning of a 4-year electoral advocacy campaign which aims to amplify the voices of citizens to demand for transparent and accountable governance in WASH sector and allow close engagement with elected officials to translate their commitment to realistic and sustainable actions”

“at current rates of progress in Nigeria, we are still a long ways, and in fact off-track, from achieving the promise of Sustainable Development Goal 6 and ensuring clean water and sanitation for all. But together, we can make clean water decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation.

Poor WASH is one of the main causes of Nigeria’s disease burden, without WASH there will not be health for Nigerians, WaterAid says around 60,000 children under the age of five in Nigeria die from disease caused by the nation’s poor levels of access to WASH facilities.

Half of all schools in Nigeria are without access to basic toilets or clean water, yet Nigerian children go to the schools every day.

According to WaterAid Factsheets, 50% of healthcare facility n Nigeria, do not have access to clean water, 88% do not have decent toilets and 57% of the health facilities in Nigeria do not have hand hygiene at points of care and hand washing facility with water and soap at toilets.

Beyond SDGs 6, Goal 3 may also be missed in Nigeria, however more lives could be saved for Nigeria by Nigerians through improved political will on the side of the government and behavioural change practices by Nigerians.