The African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) on Thursday pledged commitment to support Nigeria in actualising her Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) commitment to improve sanitation and hygiene by 2025.
The acting executive secretary of AMCOW, Mr. Thomas Banda, said this while receiving members of the Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN) in Abuja.
The Nigerian government, through its Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu had, in 2019, pledged a creation of a $122 billion Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Fund to meet the country’s target.
Banda urged member states to align its national sanitation policies in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He said that the newly released African Sanitation Policy Guidelines (ASPG) was a continental guideline for sanitation policies.
“We urge our member states to sit back and review their sanitation policies that are already in place. From our statistics, most of these sanitation policies that were reviewed were done during the MDGs. But now that we are talking about achieving the SDGs’ six on accelerated access to sanitation, we really need to make sure that these sanitation policies are very much focused on the SDGs and not the MDGs.
“We also noted that there are quite a lot of gaps in existing policies in the countries, a lot of countries do not have sanitation policy guidelines at all.
“So, we developed the continental ASPG to provide some guidelines for member states, so that they can come up with tailor-made sanitation policies,” Bandan said.
He commended NEWSAN on its activities towards supporting the country in scaling up access to improved sanitation and hygiene and pledged to continue to advocate continentally.
He noted that AMCOWs mandate was continental and Nigeria’s mandate was just one out of its 55 member-states, saying the continental progress report done annually showed that Nigeria had some positive trends that showed it was moving in the right trajectory.
“We have heard about the Clean Nigeria campaign. It is a very good initiative and many other indicators show that it is moving well, but, just like any other member-state, there are still some challenges.
“If we are to achieve our water and sanitation-related goals in the SDGs, we still have a lot of things to achieve, like closing the investment gaps.
“It has been quite a positive visit, ideas have been exchanged and AMCOW, as a continental organisation can put in a voice for member-states’ aspirations domestically,” he said.
The NEWSAN’s national coordinator, Mr. Benson Attah, said the visit was a part of advocacy to support government’s effort and track commitments made to the Sanitation and Water for All in 2019 when it proposed the establishment of a WASH fund for the country.
“We see it as something [tangible] and it will also help to accelerate the achievement of the national goal to attain her open defecation-free target by 2025 and also contribute to the SDGs by 2030.
“Going by the resources that the government projected to do this (which stands at $122 billion), we know that most efforts to scale-up WASH-related interventions in the country is being piloted by the Federal Government, which shouldn’t be. Most states are not forthcoming with commitments to water and sanitation implementation in their states.
“Nigeria has just four years to achieve her target and out of the 774 LGAs, we currently have only 62 that are open defecation-free. If we continue to move at this pace, we will not achieve our goals.
“We see the need to mobilise stakeholders to support the establishment of the WASH Fund and also make it possible to access [the funds] to implement water and sanitation projects and also make contributions,” he said.
Attah noted that although the AMCOW coordinates (the activities of) member states to accelerate WASH in the continent, its presence in Nigeria could be better felt through advocacy to make Nigeria meet her target.
He said the group will continue to strengthen partnership with other stakeholders to support the country’s efforts for water and hygiene promotion scale-up. (NAN)