Over 15m Nigerians have no access to potable water – UNICEF

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Over 15 million Nigerians still drink water from rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and irrigation canals, a United Nation Children’s Fund, UNICEF, specialist, Moustapha Niang, has said.

He said unless government puts in more effort to ensure accessibility to water supply, Nigeria is unlikely to meet the SDGs Goal 6 by 2030.

SDG goal 6 aims at ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Mr. Niang stated this in Uyo on Wednesday during a media dialogue on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the Child Right Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Ministry of Information.

Mr. Niang, who is a UNICEF WASH specialist, said that more than half of the 57 million Nigerians that lack access to potable water supply live in rural areas.

He noted that accessibility to safe water can save the lives of most under five children that die annually from preventable diseases, as most of the diseases are caused by poor access to water.

He said: “We need to do 20 times more of what we are currently doing in terms of policies and funding in providing safe water to the people.

“For example, in 1999, 12 per cent of the population had pipe access to their homes. But this percentage declined to two percent as at 2015.”

In his remarks, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, said the state government was providing new strategic policies that would ensure provision of potable water across the state.

Mr. Emmanuel, represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Political, Legislative Affairs and Water Resources, Nse Edem, noted that the state government was not only doing the policies for the people of Akwa Ibom state, but for the whole of the South-south region.

In her presentation, another UNICEF WASH specialist, Martha Hokonya, enumerated the benefits of provision of potable water and urged journalists to help in prompting the government to invest in provision of potable water.

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