Nigeria inaugurates committee to steer water, sanitation access

By Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

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Nigeria's Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

The Nigerian government has inaugurated a steering committee as the country is expanding access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities as one of the most effective weapons against infections diseases.

This is even as stakeholders ramp up efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo inaugurated the Steering Committee of the “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet Campaign” at a virtual event on Thursday in Abuja.

The event was attended by members of the committee drawn from the Federal Executive Council, States, Local Government Areas, Civil Society and the organised private sector.

Speaking at the event, Professor Osinbajo said: “we are embarking upon this initiative at a most auspicious time. As our nation confronts the Covid-19 pandemic, we recognise that expanding access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities is our most effective weapon against the scourge of infectious diseases.
 
“Ensuring the provision of adequate WASH facilities in our communities is the cornerstone of our efforts to strengthen the resilience of our public health structures beyond the present challenge of Covide-19. This is the basis of our commitment to ending open defecation and more broadly to raising the standards in the WASH sector.”

On the progress made since the adoption and implementation of the national road map for WASH in 2016, the Vice President said more Local Government Areas across the country have so far been certified as Open Defecation Free according to the National Open Defecation Free (ODF) Protocol.

He noted that “the key objectives of this effort include the implementation of a campaign to end open defecation in Nigeria by 2025.
 
“This will involve mobilising support and resources at the highest political level and within the private sector, the communities and from development partners.”

Speaking further on the importance of the campaign on sanitation and hygiene in Nigeria, Professor Osinbajo said; “it will create a pool of resource persons to support local actors to implement this nationwide transformational sanitation agenda.
 
“The campaign will mobilise various strata of the society to imbibe a new culture of safe sanitation through behavioural change communication and advocacy strategies; we will also establish mechanisms for tracking progress and sharing knowledge and lessons learnt.”

Clean Nigeria Campaign
Reading out the terms of reference for the steering committee, the Vice President said the group would meet bi-annually to amongst other things provide strategic oversight to the implementation of the Clean Nigeria Campaign.

According to him, “the committee will oversee and advise on the implementation and strategic orientation proposed by the Clean Nigeria Secretariat to execute the campaign.”
 
The committee will also facilitate maximum synergy between the Clean Nigeria Secretariat and other relevant government agencies including security and law enforcement agencies and stakeholders towards meeting the campaign objectives.

Other functions of the committee would be to facilitate access of the Clean Nigeria Secretariat to technical and financial resources for effective implementation of the campaign; to receive and review progress reports of implementation of the campaign; and ensure that results of the campaign monitoring outcomes are well communicated to all stakeholders.

Professor Osinbajo commended the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and other partners for the engagements towards achieving the campaign objectives as approved by the Federal Executive Council, and in line with the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) for Water and Sanitisation.

Chaired by the Vice President, members of the committee include, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Mr Kayode Fayemi Chairman; Senate Committee on Water Resources, Sen. Bello Mandiya and Chairman, House Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli.

Other members of the committee are the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan; the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu; Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed; Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, Mr Sabo Nanono; Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; and Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Paulen.

 

Mercy Chukwudiebere