SULEIMAN Adamu, the Minister of Water Resources says an additional nine million Nigerians now have access to potable water.
He disclosed this at the launch of 2019 Water supply, Sanitation and Hygiene, National Outcome Routing Mapping (WASH-NORM), held Tuesday in Abuja.
According to him, the percentage of the population with access to basic water supply services has steadily increased from 68 per cent in 2018 to 70 per cent in 2019.
The minister explained that WASH-NORM survey, however, showed a decrease in access to hygiene services between 2018 and 2019.
Adamu had said last year May that only 21, 000 communities in Nigeria have met the Open Defecation Free status. As a result, he disclosed that Nigeria would require N959 billion to achieve ODF status by 2025.
To affirm his commitment to addressing the problem of open defecation, President Muhammadu Buhari signed an executive order 009 last year November in order for the country to meet up with the set target. Nigeria currently ranks the global index on open defecation, surpassing India which used to occupy that position.
“On access to sanitation, indicators across the country show a slight improvement as 44 per cent of the population was found to have access to basic sanitation services in 2019 compared to 42 per cent in 2018.
“The number of people practising open defecation has marginally changed from 24 per cent in 2018 to 23 per cent in 2019,” he said.
Adamu described the WASH-NORM as an annual survey that examines the status of Water supply, Sanitation and Hygiene services across the country.
He added that the survey was borne out of the need for comprehensive data on WASH for effective monitoring of the progress the country was making towards achieving sustainable development goals target of 6.1 and 6.2
“In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen that the gaps in handwashing should immediately be seen as a major public health issue.
“In the light of the current WASH status, stronger high-level commitments with policy initiatives based on evidence-informed interventions to close the gaps in access to WASH services are needed,” he added.
He, however, stated that the challenges remained is to sustain the commitments made at the national level, efficiently and sustainably domesticating them at the sub-national levels and across line ministries where implementation takes place to ensure Nigeria achieves its WASH goals.
He commended the efforts of the development partners who, he said, worked tirelessly to make NORM 11 report a reality, including the National Bureau of Statistics, UNICEF, AfDB and the World Bank.
Mrs Didi -Walson Jack, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, in her remarks, said that progress over the past decade showed that the targets for WASH were not adequately tracked due to paucity of data which subsequently hinders appropriate planning and execution of policies and programmes.
Mr Benson Ajisegiri, speaking on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, said the SDGs presented the most ambitious targets for water supply, sanitation and hygiene, as water is inextricably linked to many other sustainable development outcomes.
“It is in recognition of this enormous responsibility that the Ministry in collaboration with National Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF has established the WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH-NORM) in 2018.
He added that the objective is to make available comprehensive and qualitative data for planning, priority setting, resource mobilization and other critical decision-making support in the WASH sector.