Nearly 4,500 people in Riyom local government area of Plateau State, north-central Nigeria will benefit from improved access to safe water and sanitation facilities following the commissioning of a communal solar driven motorized water facility and WASH facilities in a school which include gender segregated latrines and a handpump.
Built with support from the European Union (EU), the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities will go a long way towards ensuring that every child in Nigeria has access to safe WASH services.
“Children who do not have safe access to WASH, are most likely to lose interest in pursuing learning opportunities because they are forced to spend more time in search for water during school hours or stay out of school to recover from illness caused by frequent episodes of diarrhea,” says Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative.
According to the data from the WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH NORM), as many as 47 million Nigerians practice open defecation, only 11 percent of Nigerians have access to complete basic water, sanitation and hygiene services and only 13 percent of schools have access to basic water and sanitation services.
The ripple effect of this is that more than 100,000 children under five years of age die each year due to water borne diseases like diarrhea, of which 90 percent is directly attributed to unsafe water and sanitation.
“Clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene practices are critical for the survival and development of children. Without these basic needs, the lives of millions of children are at risk. We must do better for children by prioritizing WASH on the development agenda,” says Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head of EU Delegation in Nigeria.
The European Union Ambassador explains that ending open defecation and making water, sanitation, and hygiene services available to children in rural Nigeria is one of the biggest challenges in Nigeria, construction and management of which requires sustained investments and more partnerships.
In November 2018, the Nigerian president declared a state of emergency in the WASH sector, reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment for eliminating open defecation and launched a national campaign with an objective of achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) status by 2025.
The EU through UNICEF and other development partners is supporting the government of Nigeria to protect the rights of children through the provision of access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene services in needy locations within the country.
The EU funded programmes support WASH projects in urban and rural areas through the provision of water schemes, technical assistance and capacity development to sector institutions and agencies responsible, and improved access to safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene services in communities. The European Union has has invested more than 250 MEUROs in the Nigerian water sector improving the WASH conditions of more than 10 million people in 14 States. Working towards achievieng the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is a priority for the EU and Nigeria. SDG 6 ensure access to clean and sustainable water for all.