As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate the “2018 World Water Day, the UN Children’s Fund has called on Nigerian Government to make access to safe water a priority.
This call was made in a statement by its Communication Specialist, Ms Eva Hinds in Abuja and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday.
According to the statement, safe water is a right, not a privilege for every child.
“It is a matter for regret that no fewer than 69 million Nigerians lack access to safe water.
“Access to safe drinking water remained a challenge to majority of Nigerians, especially those in the rural areas, where 19 million people walk long distances to collect unsafe water from lakes, streams and rivers.”
Hinds quoted the recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), conducted by the Government of Nigeria in 2016/17, which indicates that about 40 per cent of households do not have access to clean water sources.
“Children without access to safe water are more likely to die in infancy and throughout childhood from waterborne diseases.
“Diarrhea remains the leading cause of death among children under ﬁve years of age in Nigeria. Waterborne diseases one of the major contribution to stunting,” she said.
She said that lack of safe water and sanitation also makes children vulnerable to other threats beyond health.
According to Hinds, a stunted child is shorter than she or he could have been and will never be able to reach her or his full cognitive potential.
She also quoted Mr Zaid Jurji, Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, UNICEF Nigeria, as saying that for Nigeria to achieve the global goal of providing access to safe water for every citizen by 2030, it needs to make water, together with sanitation and hygiene, a national priority.
Jurji said the goal was closely linked with three key results for the country – good health, environment sustainability and economic prosperity.
“Many children in rural areas spend hours daily collecting water, missing out on the opportunity to go to school.
“Improving water and sanitation services, as well as basic hygiene practices in Nigeria, calls for a strong commitment from all partners; the government, the civil society, the private sector and communities.
“UNICEF, in collaboration with the Federal, State and Local Governments, has provided safe water during the past five years to over eight million Nigerians living in rural areas.’’
The World Water Day is celebrated on March 22 yearly to focus attention on the importance of water.
The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ‘Nature for Water’; exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century. (NAN)