With 63 million Nigerians lacking access to improved water supply, Nigeria may not meet the Millennium Development Goal, MDG, target for water and sanitation including other health related goals.
According to reports, Nigeria ranks among the 10 countries that are home to almost two-thirds of the global population without access to improved drinking water sources.
Latest estimates of the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP), released in early 2013, 36 per cent of the world’s population – 2.5 billion people – lack improved sanitation facilities, and 768 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources.
Poor sanitation, water and hygiene have many other serious repercussions. Without WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), sustainable development is impossible.
Speaking at a two-day media dialogue on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, in Enugu, UNICEF Specialist, Amos Kudzala said access to water and water quality remains a major challenge.
Kudzala in his presentation entitled: “Water Supply, Water Quality & WASH in Schools,” explained that safe water is important because water is life and linked to hygiene.
He noted that estimated 1,400 children under five die everyday from diarrhoeal diseases linked to lack of safe water and adequate sanitation and hygiene, adding that in Nigeria, 18 per cent of the deaths of children under five years old are linked diarrhoea.
He expressed worry that despite the importance of water in every aspect of life particularly in child survival, allocation for water remains insignificant.
Advocating for the provision of WASH facilities in schools and hospitals across the country, he noted that every child, rich or poor, has the right to survive, the right to health, the right to access to improved water supply.
Speaking on the global agenda, WASH in Schools, he said: Water is intimately linked with education and gender equality. Girls who have to spend time gathering water for the family tend not to be in school. And where schools have sanitation, attendance is higher, especially for girls.”
He stated that WASH in schools would guarantee effective learning, adding that children perform better in a hygienic and clean environment.
WASH will also reduce diseases and worm infestations-clean, well-used toilets and good hygiene practices will prevent infections and infestation.
When WASH is in schools, children and their schools are able to introduce and reinforce hygienic behaviours in the home and community.