Suleiman Adamu, Minister of Water Resources, on Tuesday criticised federating states in the country, over what he described as poor investments in water and sanitation schemes.
While reminding states that provision of water and sanitation fell under their purview, he warned that their actions were indirectly contributing to rising statistics of open defecation, which was second in line to India.
Adamu took swipe on them, when he spoke as special guest of honour, at the commemoration of the 2019 ‘Global Hand Washing Day’, jointly organised by Procter & Gamble, including the Global Citizen Initiative in Abuja.
He said government at the federal level had shown considerable commitment to water provision, but states were not reciprocating, in spite of water provision being their primary responsibility.
“First is the political commitment, at the federal level, we are demonstrating it every now and then with all the actions we have taken in the last few years towards solving our water and sanitation problem, at federal level yes, at state level there is still work to be done.
“Some states are still not investing; I keep saying it, they are primarily responsible for providing water and sanitation but many states are not investing enough to meet the requirements of its citizens. That’s what we are trying to get them to do and that’s what led to launching of the Wash Action Plan and the P-Wash for rural communities that we launched in 2016 while the action plan was launched in 2018.
“All these cover issues of open defecation, so the bulk of the money should come from the people themselves and the states, the federal government does not run a water board,” said.
While reiterating that Nigeria has extended its deadline for eradicating open defecation to 2025, five years ahead of the objectives outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Adamu noted that there was need to strengthen the culture of good hygiene through regular hand washing.
According to research by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), one in four Nigerians, about 47 million people still practice open defecation, especially in the northern part of the country, where there is less access to good toilets.
The trend persists in Nigeria in spite of the significant health risks associated with it, particularly its linkage to death from diarrhea, cholera and typhoid among other ailments.
Temitope Iluyemi, Associate Director, Procter & Gamble, Africa, estimated that 844 million people still suffer access to water globally, in spite of it being a basic necessity of life.
She noted that state governments in Nigeria could improve water and sanitation provision, if they could commit between $14 and $21 million dollars to the scheme in their annual budgetary appropriations.