About 25% of Nigerians defecate openly, placing Nigeria No. 2 in the global rating on open defecation. According to Federal Ministry of Water Resources in Nigeria, access to improved sanitation has decreased from 38% in 1990 to 29% in 2015. In the rural areas, 46% of all water schemes are non-functional and the statistics is similar in the urban areas.
More disturbing is the fact that annually, about 60,000 Nigerian children, under the age of five, die of WASH-related diseases. This connotes a full-blown crisis situation and implies that water supply has deteriorated and degenerated in successive governments or administrations.
Launched in November 2018, #Vote4WASH is a national campaign rooted in Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals which calls for transformative budgetary provisions, funding and investment in WASH-related projects in schools and communities. #Vote4WASH wants water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to dominate 2019 election campaigns and political conversations especially at sub-national levels of government.
However, since Nigerian government had declared a “State of Emergency on Nigeria’s Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Sector,’’ it is therefore a national concern for all stakeholders. With the National Action Plan for Revitalization of Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene; all stakeholders are called to action.
On this basis, our team reached out to five presidential candidates under the historic #ReadyToRun platform. The movement had organized a town hall meeting at Channels TV, Abuja on February 10, 2019, for engagement and in-depth interaction with electorates. After due diligence and engagement, we secured overwhelming support from the five candidates as they signed up to the accountability tool (Pledge Cards) – publicly declaring to support and prioritize water programmes, projects and interventions if elected into office.
The five presidential candidates include: Mr. Chike Ukagbu (Advanced Allied Party), Mr. Babatunde Ademola (Nigeria Community Movement Party), Mr. Emmanuel Ishie Etim (Change Nigeria Party) Mrs Eunice Atuejide of (National Interest Party) and Ahmed Buhari of (Sustainable National Party).
Water is life and lack of it means death. Access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are crucial for good outcomes in health, nutrition, education and livelihood standards. When water and sanitation facilities are available and accessible to citizens, they act as primary barriers against disease transmission. Personal hygiene, particularly hand washing with soap and running water, has been identified as the most cost-effective disease control mechanism.
Nevertheless, Nigeria parades embarrassing statistics as highlighted above in relation to WASH. The implication of signing up to #Vote4WASH Pledge Cards is acceptance to be held accountable in terms of support and investment towards universal access to safe water and improved sanitation in our communities (urban and rural) in line with the SDGs, National Open Defecation Free Roadmap (ODF), Partnership for Expanded Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) and a State of Emergency in Nigeria’s WASH Sector.
In addition, signatories to the Pledge Cards mean support and investment to ensure that all public institutions especially schools, health centres, markets and parks have inclusive WASH facilities and/or services. And because poor sanitation keeps people in poverty, WASH would form components of poverty alleviation schemes and social welfare programmes.
We are reaching out to electoral stakeholders – political parties and their candidates for Gubernatorial, National Assembly and House of Assembly positions; community-based organisations; civil societies; and electorates, to recognize; influence and demand for remarkable budgetary attention and funding for WASH in the grassroots.
Citizens are enjoined to vote for candidates who have to upgrade and prioritize WASH sector. With evidences, we ascertain that increasing access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) aids economic development, poverty reduction, education, good health and general well-being.