The Oyo State government has been asked to accelerate the trend of the high political will it demonstrated when it declared a state of emergency in its water, sanitation and hygiene sector as only by accelerating the implementation of the national and state WASH Action Plan for the sector’s revitalisation and fast tracking the implementation of its Clean Nigeria: Use Toilet Campaign can it make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene a reality for everyone.
The call was made by an international organization, Living Word Mission (LIWOM) on Sunday while presenting a policy brief on halting the spread of infectious diseases in Oyo State through universal access to water sanitation and good hygiene as part of activities marking this year’s Global Hand Washing Day.
Speaking on behalf of LIWOM, the Country Lead, Pastor Marcus Williams, stated that hand washing with soap and clean water remains one of the simplest and cost-effective interventions for high burden diseases in Oyo State, adding that a lack of clean water, decent toilets and hand washing facilities in homes, organisations, healthcare facilities and public places not only make people vulnerable to potentially fatal diseases but also makes it difficult for them to protect themselves from spread and control of disease outbreaks.
According to him, the 2019 figures from the National Outcome Routine Mapping of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Service Levels (WASH NORM) indicates that 167 million Nigerians do not have access to hand washing facilities and 60 million lacks access to basic water while only seven per cent of health facilities and 14 per cent of schools in the country have access to combined basic water, sanitation and hygiene.
“Information has it that thousands of people across Oyo State do not have access to a clean source of water in their homes, schools or health centres to protect themselves from the spread of these diseases and confront pandemics. Levels of access to water, sanitation and hygiene service in rural communities are far more worrisome, making this segment of the community more vulnerable.
“This emergency is an opportunity to lay the foundation of a viable and sustainable water sanitation and hygiene sector focused on eliminating the death of hundreds of children daily from water-borne diseases including diarrhoea in Oyo State. The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for Oyo State government to take urgent action to implement key recommendations and commitments for the provision of inclusive and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services.
“There is need for partnerships and collaborations and urgent collective action to build resilient water, sanitation and hygiene systems to control and overcome COVID-19 and prevent the next pandemic,” Williams stated.
The LIWOM Country Lead added that his organization with support from Water Aid Nigeria and funding support from HEINEKEN Africa Foundation is supporting the Oyo State Government to boost its activities with the Scale-Up Hygiene Project that will cost the sum of N28.5m for Oyo State alone.
According to him, the project that will run for six months is producing100 semi-permanent handwash facility, 20 permanent handwash facility and 15 new model permanent handwash facility which will all be non-contact and the model one is designed with features to cater for people living with disabilities in addition to sensitisation programmes and distribution of Hygiene Product Packs to 12,000 household and 6000 people with disabilities among many other interventions.