Originaly published by Doyin Adeoye on the Nigerian Tribune
To mark the World Water Day held on March 22, WaterAid Nigeria has called for urgent action from the international community and the government to reach the 41 million rural people in Nigeria without access to clean water.
WaterAid’s annual analysis of global water access, entitled ‘Wild Water: The State of the World’s Water,’ released ahead of World Water Day on 22 March, examined the vulnerability of rural communities around the world to extreme weather events resulting from climate change, including cyclones, ruinous flooding and prolonged drought.
The report warned that changes in weather patterns could make it even harder for the world’s poorest people to access clean water.
According to the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, Nigeria ranks in the top 31 per cent of nations worldwide most vulnerable to climate change and in the top eight per cent least ready to adapt to it.
Today, 663 million people are without clean water globally, and the vast majority of them, that is 522 million, live in rural areas. These communities face particular challenges in gaining access to clean water, due to their often isolated location, inadequate infrastructure and a continued lack of funding.
WaterAid UK Chief Executive, Barbara Frost, said “This World Water Day is a timely opportunity to reflect on how extreme weather events make the daily struggle to access clean water even more difficult for the world’s poorest people. Many of the countries featured in the report are already regularly hit by severe cyclones, floods and drought. Rural communities, which are marginalised by their remote location and a continued lack of funding for basic services, often bear the greatest burden of these events.
“Clean water is not a privilege; it is a basic human right. Yet over half a billion rural people are still living without access to clean drinking water. It is staggering to think that if all of these people stood in a queue, it would wrap around the Earth’s circumference six and a half times.
“Assisting communities to develop climate-resilient facilities is critical to the realisation of Goal 6 and to poverty eradication,” she said.
In the same vein, WaterAid Nigeria Country Director, Dr Michael Ojo, said: 41 million rural people in Nigeria are still living without access to clean water. On World Water Day, we call upon our government and others around the world to keep their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, and ensure everyone is able to realise their right to clean water by 2030.
“Our leaders need to deliver on their promises to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 6 to ensure access to safe water and sanitation for all, because everyone – no matter where they live – deserves affordable access to these life essentials. The Federal Government recently launched the Partnership for Expanded Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH), a national multi-sectoral collaboration for the improvement of rural water supply, sanitation and hygiene. This is a great start tackling lack of access in rural areas but there is a need to quickly focus on measures, with government leadership, to address this scourge in our towns and cities too,” he said.
To this end, the organisation has therefore called on governments to prioritise and fund water, sanitation and hygiene, fulfilling these fundamental human rights and building communities’ resilience to extreme weather events and climate change.
It also urged government leaders to increase efforts to meet their commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, including achieving targets to reach everyone everywhere with safe, clean drinking water, adequate sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030.