Stories by Etta Michael Bisong
Stakeholders in the water and sanitation sector have challenged the political class, especially aspirants to prioritise issues of clean water, hygiene and sanitation into their electioneering campaigns so as to improve livelihoods across the country.
The stakeholders while giving the charge at a workshop jointly organised by Youth Water Sanitation and Hygiene (YOUTHWASH) and WaterAid Nigeria held in Abuja, urged political aspirants to specifically focus on how to help increase the funds appropriated for the development and management of water and sanitation to reduce the risk associated with the above environmental challenges.
National coordinator of YouthWASH, Mr. Nature Obiakor, in his address describes access to portable water and sanitation as critical to the livelihoods and reduction of poverty among households. Obiakor, while hinting on the motive of the meeting which observed the unveiling of a campaign dubbed ‘’Vote4WASH,’’ hinted that the exercise is designed to engage political aspirants and gather their commitments for the transformation of the sector.
He said such commitments would enable communities and voters hold the aspirants accountable to deliver on their promises.
The enthusiastic rights campaigner lamented over the slow level of work in the provision and management of sanitation in spite of the huge commitments made in the past.
He urged the citizens on the need to mobilise and demand justice in exchange for their votes to properly address the problems of water, hygiene and sanitation to improve their living standards.
Also remarking at the event, Head of Governance at WaterAid, TolaniBusari, disclosed that the essence of the Vote4WASH campaign was to sensitise citizens on their rights to basic sanitation and how to seek for it from political aspirants.
“We believe that the general elections scheduled for February 2015 is an opportunity to sensitise the citizens on the demands they can begin to make on the candidates. And the people who would eventually hold different positions in Nigeria, demands that can secure development in the country.
“And we are more focused on the provision of water sanitation and hygiene, people need to have toilet in their houses have water running from taps and have improved healthy lives that is our focus.
‘’We are investing in this campaign because we believe it can make the desired change, we are starting now and people are going into communities immediately after this planning meeting to sensitise the citizenry,’’ she said.
Busari noted that, access to safe water and sanitation was a right of every citizen of the country and should be paramount in the activities of the government.
According to her, a World Bank report shows that Nigeria loses N455 billion annually due to inadequate sanitation, equivalent to 1.3% of the country’s GDP.