UNICEF warns of acute water shortage in Nigeria

People’s Gazette 

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has hinted that Nigeria’s continued reliance on surface water sources may lead to an acute shortage, negatively impacting the livelihoods and well-being of the population.

Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, said this when he featured on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum, a special interview programme, in Abuja.

He said due to population growth, Nigeria made slow progress in improving access to potable water for the citizens, with access only at 10 per cent, calling for more investments in the sector.

Mr Hawkins emphasised that there was a need for the country to seek water storage alternatives through harvesting and sustainable conservation.

“Nigeria relies a lot on the water table and surface water.

“The water table with climate change and the massive population, Nigeria potentially has a crisis looming in the future.

“I am talking about 10, 20, 30 years, and its reliance on surface water, without the infrastructure to meet it, is always going to be a burden on the country,” he said.

Mr Hawkins charged the country to seek other alternatives for capturing water, emphasising the urban areas.

The UNICEF representative noted that the biggest progress in the sector was the declaration of a state of emergency in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018.

He said this had led to more local governments becoming open defecation-free and communities taking ownership of their sanitation and hygiene needs.

Mr Hawkins said that UNICEF had introduced the annual Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) Report for all stakeholders to monitor progress in water and sanitation at the state level.

According to him, Nigeria needs N3 billion annually to make a reasonable change.

“The level of investment, I think, if I remember correctly, is between the region of N3 billion a year if Nigeria were to catch up with any sort of reasonable level of access to clean water and good sanitation.

“That level of investment needs to take place, and if it doesn’t take place, I am afraid, over the next 20, 30 years, that Nigeria will be faced with serious consequences.

“I will give you one statistic that I know from water in primary healthcare centres, it has dropped from 7 to 6 per cent year on year.

“So only 6 per cent of primary healthcare centres across the country have access to clean water,” he said…

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