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Buhari declares state of emergency on water sector

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PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has declared a state of emergency on Nigeria’s water sector, assuring that his administration will do more to ensure that the supply of clean water across the country is improved.

He said this while inaugurating the National Action Plan for the Revitalization of Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector at the State House, Abuja, on Thursday.

Buhari described Nigeria’s low global rating regarding WASH as unacceptable, stressing that a lot needs to be done differently to change the narrative.

”We cannot and will not continue to allow these preventable occurrences to decimate our population,’’ Buhari said.

“Access to piped water services which was 32% in 1990 has declined to 7% in 2015; access to improved sanitation has also decreased from 38% in 1990 to 29% in 2015. Our country now ranks No 2 in the global rating on Open Defecation as about 25% of our population are practicing open defecation.

“WASH services at the rural areas are unsustainable as 46% of all water schemes are non-functional, and the share of our spending on WASH sector has been declining from 0.70% of the GDP in 1990 to about 0.27% in 2015 which is far below the 0.70% at the West African regional level.

“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets (6.1 & 6.2) for WASH are even more demanding as they require WASH services to be provided in adequate quantity and quality on premises at affordable prices.

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“This cannot be achieved if we continue with ‘a business as usual’ approach. (And) It is on this premise that I fully endorse the decision taken at the meeting of the Federal Executive Council in April this year to declare ‘a State of Emergency on our WASH Sector’.

”I call on all State Governments to complement this effort by according the sector similar recognition to enable us work together to achieve the SDG targets for WASH by 2030.”

President Buhari said his administration has done a lot to revitalise the water sector, including “approving the 15-year road-map developed for the sector”.

”The transformation being witnessed in the sector since then is highly commendable,” he said.

”I have no doubt that the on-going initiatives including the implementation of the Partnership for Expanded Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) in the Ministry will take the water sector to improved performance and supply, thereby meeting the national aspirations as well as the SDGs.”

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