Coalition Of CSOs Urges Enugu Governorship Candidates To Prioritise WASH Services

…Says Over 2.37m People Lack Access To Potable, Drinking Water In Enugu

By Tony Adibe

The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) under the banner of Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN) Enugu State, has advised all governorship candidates for elections to prioritise Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services.

This advice came as research finding indicated that over 2.37 million people lacked access to potable drinking water in Enugu State while there has been a price hike of over 100 per cent in the past year from water vendors, according to the CSOs. The State Coordinator of NEWSAN, Ogechukwu Enwelum, who made the disclosure during a press conference held on resuscitation of public water supply in Enugu State, said: “The coalition called for the candidates to share their blueprint for improving WASH services in Enugu State.”

NewsBits reports that the conference, tagged: “Enugu Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Challenge: The Way Forward,” was organised by WaterAid Nigeria in partnership with SSDO and NEWSAN. Enwelum said that the coalition would embark on aggressive advocacy to the residents to demand full resuscitation of public water supply from political party candidates vying for the general elections.

She explained that NEWSAN Enugu State in partnership with South Saharan Social Development Organisation (SSDO) and WaterAid Nigeria, “is calling the attention” of relevant stakeholders and governorship candidates to the dire WASH services challenges in the state. She said: “Research shows that over 2.37 million people lack access to potable drinking water in Enugu State; while there has been a price hike of over 100 per cent in the past year from water vendors.

“The government and international non-governmental organizations have played their part to see a lasting solution to this problem but all to no avail. In time past, over N600 million was awarded for the 9th Mile Water Scheme. Also, the French Development Agency donated $50 million to the state through the Enugu Water Corporation, but this has not yielded the desired outcome.

“The lack of access to adequate water supply increases open defecation in communities. This pollutes the environment, contaminates available water sources, and exposes the community to diseases like cholera, diarrhoea, and dysentery. Over 47 million Nigerians still practice open defecation and Enugu State is not exempted as about 47 per cent of the populace still practice open defecation.

“This is a pointer to the lack of proper toilet infrastructure and water facilities, especially in rural communities. If the goal to make Enugu State an Open Defecation Free State by 2025, in line with the state’s road map, is to be a reality, then this status quo must change.”

Enwelum further stated that there was a need for partnership between the incoming government and the outgoing administration, adding, however, that “understanding how important the government’s role is in improving WASH services through policy, infrastructure, and partnerships remains imperative.”

In his speech, the Head of Programme of SSDO, Mr Udochukwu Egwim said that the coalition was supporting government efforts toward improving WASH services, stressing that “all we are doing is to ginger stakeholders, especially government, that have huge resources to act.”

Egwim said that before now, the coalition with the help of partners and donor agencies had been able to repair bore holes and mini-water schemes within rural villages and communities in the state.

“We want citizens to join and press on the government and other stakeholders especially political party candidates to ensure that WASH services and provision of potable drinking water is available for the people,” he said.

Also speaking, the Executive Director of Youth Child Support Initiative, Ijeoma Nnaji,    said there was a need for citizens to hold the government accountable for resuscitating public taps once more in Enugu State. Nnaji said: “The present situation of WASH services is affecting the health department of many residents and mostly the children who are more vulnerable to diseases like cholera, diarrhea and dysentery among others.”

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