Inadequate sanitation impacts on everybody; from the greatest to the least. But, in spite of all these, a 5-day programme convened by the African Leadership Forum suggests sanitation coverage in Nigeria is extremely low. pembi stephen-david writes.
In furtherance of Africa Leadership Forum’s support to the development of sustainable democratic institutions and promotion of good governance in Nigeria and Africa at large, the ALF organised a capacity building workshop on Water and Sanitation for staff of National and State assemblies.
Held between April 16 and 20, 2012 at the ALF secretariat in Ota, Ogun State, the workshop attracted 30 participants from 12 state houses of assembly across the nation, representing the South South, South West, South East and the North Central.
Others are North West and North East. As it is with the ALF programmes, resource persons were drawn from the academia, civil society and the legislature.
While welcoming participants on the opening day of the programme, the Executive Director of ALF, Mr Ayodele Aderinwale, MFR, said the organisation lunched the Parliamentary Support Institute for Nigeria in 2005 to deliver capacity building programmes for state and national parliaments.
He said ‘‘The free training programme was conceived to equip participants with requisite technical skills required to improve the performance of parliamentarians in their oversight and legislative functions.’’
Aderinwale revealed that, ‘‘ The Africa Leadership Forum decided to focus on training parliamentary support staff instead of legislators due to the advantage of sustainability as support staff remain with the assemblies even after legislators are voted out of office.’’
He encouraged participants to utilise the knowledge and experience shared by resource persons. ‘‘The resource persons are well schooled in the areas of discourse, you are at liberty to ask them questions that relate to the sessions they handle,’’
Speaking on ‘Developing Sustainable Policies, Legislative And Regulatory Framework For Sanitation And Waste Management In Nigeria’, Peter Coocky, one of the facilitators of the workshop, said, ‘‘ The provision of sanitation is a key development intervention – without it, poor health is guaranteed, dignity is lost, education, the environment and the economy is negatively impacted.
Simply having access to sanitation improves health, well-being, livelihood, the environment and economic productivity.” He said that, “Nigeria is way off-track to meeting the MDGs for sanitation and this is in spite of all the various attempts by governments and intervention agencies. The aim should be to use the next ten to fifteen years to close the gap. To achieve this, we need the right kind of legal instruments (policies, legislations, regulations, etc).’’
Speaking further, Coocky argued that, ‘‘Creating the right types of legal instruments or framework to support sanitation management in Nigeria and improving quality is essential to meeting the MDG Targets on sanitation. Achieving sustainable sanitation and waste management in Nigeria is not impossible.
But, to make this dream a reality, we need to get several things right. The truth is that the set of legal instruments we have now make implementation near impossible and that is why they are all short on their goals and targets. ’’
Making a presentation on ‘‘Environmental and Health Implications for Potable Water Packaging and Disposal in Nigeria,’’ Immaculate Ifunaya Nwokoro (PhD),said, ‘‘ Lack of access to potable water by many Nigerians as the major reason for the high demand of packaged water. There is a need to close this supply and demand gap.
However, while seeking to protect public health in a developing world like Nigeria, there is need for regulatory and health agencies to maintain a balanced position that concurrently improve social welfare and access to drinking water. Regulatory activities that promote core hygiene values (e.g., hand washing, general cleanliness of storage environment and vendor containers) and a proper handling culture could produce the desired improvements rather than a tenacious focus on end-product monitoring, which does not always give a complete picture in terms of microbiological risk assessment.’’
He added that, ‘‘considering the importance of sanitation and waste management to the health, economy, environment and general wellbeing of the people, legal reforms in this area is a worthwhile venture for our parliaments.
Therefore, the next step of action is to return to base and challenge the entire legal framework we have on sanitation and waste management at the various levels of governance and place them under microscopic review for necessary reforms.’’
Facilitating ‘Public Water Supply Infrasturture and Sustainability Issues In Nigeria’, Mallam D. Bashir recommends that, ‘‘the Federal and State Governments should provide the necessary enabling environment to facilitate the processes of establishing supply chains for water supply and sanitation materials, spare parts and repair tools. This also has tremendous potentials for job creation.’’
She argued that, ‘‘ sustainable operation and maintenance mechanisms should be put in place, by all Governments, for increased output of water supply and adequate maintenance of infrastructures in the country.’’
At the end of the workshop, participants issued a communiqué in which they decried the state of gender inequality in the country and called on national and state assemblies to ensure that “appropriate legislation be passed to ensure that gender imbalanced is addressed in the country.”
The organisation’s Publications Manager, Mr Atom Lim, revealed that the PSP serves as a stable resource centre for Nigerian Parliaments, facilitate research and other documentary exercises that would support and enhance parliamentary development, provide relevant information and training to Nigerian Parliamentarians and the parliamentary support staff on a continuous basis and finally to expose Nigerian Parliamentarians to best practices in legislation and functional networking framework and linkages with lawmakers in Africa and other parts of the world.’’