Minister laments poor sanitation, rolls out strategic plan

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Joshua Oboh Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation Engr. Joseph Utsev has expressed concerns over the prevalence of poor water, sanitation and hygiene with its devastating effect in the country.

During a three-Day retreat by the ministry for top management staff, Utsev pointed out that approximately 48 million Nigerians still practice Open Defecation (OD) which has placed Nigeria as the second largest country practicing OD behind India.

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He added that about 122,000 Nigerians, including 85,000 children under the age of five, die each year of diarrhea and other poor sanitation related ailments.

According to him: “The federal government in November, 2018 declared a state of emergency on water, sanitation and hygiene. And launched the WASH action plan. This was followed by the approval of the Federal Executive Council in May 2019 to institutionalize a national road map for ending OD in Nigeria by 2025.

“The campaign was backed up with the signing of the executive order 9 in November, 2019 aimed to unite all stakeholders in combating the menace of OD which has placed Nigeria as the second largest country practicing OD behind India.

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“According to the 2021 Water Sanitation Hygiene National Outcome on Routine Marping Survey, approximately 48 million Nigerians, equivalent to 23% of the population, still practice OD. It is no gainsaying to state that the economic, social and health impact of OD on national development is enormous.”

While he admitted that the Federal Ministry of Water Resources plays a significant role, Utsev maintained that collaboration across different stakeholders including government agencies, non-government organizations, community-based organizations and private sectors is essential to achieve access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene in the country.

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