Some development partners on Friday inaugurated the Vote for Water, Sanitation And Hygiene (WASH) campaign, to encourage Nigerians to vote for candidates who would provide clean water and sanitation for the electorates.
At the event in Abuja, the stakeholders believed that with the current situation of poor access to water and sanitation, efforts at development may not be felt at all tiers of government.
Mannaseh Igyuh, Head, People and Organisational Development, WaterAid Nigeria, noted that access to water and sanitation still remained one of the most neglected critical issues in the country.
He said although the Federal Government had declared a state of emergency in its WASH sector, it was a matter for regret that with current investments, the country may not meet its target to scale up access to water and sanitation.
According to him, with 60 million people living without clean water, over 120 million without access to a decent toilet and about 46 million practicing open defecating, Nigeria cannot afford to ignore the urgency of WASH action.
‘‘At the current rate of progress, the promise to bring safe water and toilets to everyone by 2030 will not be met. In fact, the percentage of the population with access to basic sanitation continues to drop steadily.
‘‘It is sad that a country of our stature cannot provide these basic life-saving services to its citizens, nearly 60,000 children under the age of five die of WASH-related diseases in Nigeria every year.
‘‘Sub-saharan Africa ranks lowest in the world for access to improved drinking water and sanitation and that is linked to the region’s under- five mortality rate, which is one of the highest in the world.’’
Igyuh said the impact of poor access to water and sanitation was not limited to health alone, saying women and children bore greater burden of getting water for the household.
He noted that this was preventing children from attending school regularly, and also discouraging parents from enrolling their wards in school.
He, however, said that the Vote4WASH’ campaign’ was a citizen’s engagement and advocacy campaign programme.
Igyuh added that the programme would mobilise and strengthen citizen’s engagement to demand for right to water and sanitation and increased accountability with their votes.
‘‘We call on the people of Nigeria to use their votes to demand for the right to clean water and decent toilets.
‘‘It is time for politicians to be held to a higher standard of governance.
‘‘It is the duty of all eligible voters to seize this opportunity to hold candidates to account, during and after the election.
‘‘A vote for clean water, is a vote for good health, education and improved livelihood,’’ he added.
Hamzat Lawal, Chief Executive Officer, Connected Development, underscored the need for citizens to understand that access to water and clean toilet is a human right.
He maintained that provision of potable water and clean toilet should be a priority to all tiers of government.
Lawal urged Nigerians to use their permanent voter cards to elect leaders that have their interests at heart, saying water is a necessity for the well being of citizens.
The campaign is focusing on advocacy for water and sanitation to various levels of stakeholders in Nigeria during the 2019 general elections.