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Nigeria: Urgent Action Needed to Address Unsafe Water Access

Nigeria’s Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation has called for urgent action to improve access to safe water in the country. Minister Joseph Utsev highlighted that roughly 25% of Nigerians, or 25 out of every 100 people, rely on unsafe water sources like open streams and ponds.

This lack of access to safe water poses significant health and environmental risks. Minister Utsev noted the connection between unsafe water and sanitation, stating, “A good percentage relieves themselves outdoors or uses inadequate latrines, leading to untreated human waste contaminating water sources.”

The Ministry is actively working to address the water crisis. Key initiatives include the Partnership for Expanded Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene program, focused on rural areas, and the Sustainable Urban, Rural and Small Towns Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene program, supported by the World Bank.

Utsev emphasized the government’s commitment and called for continued collaboration with development partners and donors. He highlighted progress made, stating, “Since assuming office, the Federal Government has ensured 15 Local Governments achieved Open Defecation-Free status.”

Global Context

Nigeria’s situation is not unique. A new report by UNESCO reveals that 2.2 billion people globally lack access to safe drinking water, and 3.5 billion lack safe sanitation. Water scarcity is a growing concern, with the potential to exacerbate conflict.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay stated, “Water scarcity, affecting half the world’s population, could heighten geopolitical tensions and threaten fundamental rights, particularly for women and girls.” The report estimates achieving universal access to safe water and sanitation in low and middle-income countries would cost approximately $1.7 trillion by 2030.

World Water Day 2024: A Call to Action

The theme for World Water Day 2024, “Water for Peace,” underscores the critical need for sustainable water management. As Azoulay stated, “This is a call to action to manage water sustainably, reconnect with our planet, and ultimately, build peace.”

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