Okowa focuses attention on water, sanitation in Delta

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The Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has declared a
“State of Emergency” in the water and sanitation sector in the state.

The governor, who observed that a lot is required for the
nation to provide public water and sanitation facilities for her growing
population, stated that in Delta State, the water and sanitation sectors are
receiving more funding.

Declaring the “State of Emergency” at Asaba, Okowa
inaugurated a high-powered steering committee which has him as the chairman to
coordinate the Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Services (WASH) and
“proffer effective reforms as well as formulate policies to end open
defecation.”

“In the next four years, we will increase the allocation to
water and sanitation sectors and hold those within the sector accountable as we
intend to have good value for any money released,” the governor said, adding,
“water, as the saying goes, is life; but regrettably, we have not done enough
collectively as a nation in the provision of public water and sanitation
facilities for our ever-growing population.”

He continued, “available statistics from the UNICEF-WHO
Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) show that access to piped water on premises in
urban areas declined from 32 per cent in 1990 to less than 10 per cent in 2015
and in the same token, access to improved sanitation dropped from 38 per cent
to 29 per cent; this clearly suggests an erosion of WASH utility service
coverage and it is shocking to say the least, that while population is
increasing, WASH asset is depleting.”

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“Nigeria currently ranks No. 2 in the world after India in
terms of people defecating in the open, as about 25 per cent of our population
still practice open defecation; the Sustainable Development Goals 6.1 and 6.2,
seek to stop open defecation by 2025 and ensure access to sustainable and
safely managed WASH services by 2030,” Governor Okowa stated while thanking
President Muhammadu Buhari declaring state of emergency on the revitalization
of WASH services and threw his weight behind the strategies contained in the
National Action Plan.

Governor Okowa also thanked the European Union, UNICEF and
USAID for their support and various interventions on the improvement of the
state’s WASH services since the beginning of his administration.

The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, had in an
address read by Osikela Omo-Ikirodah commended Governor Okowa’s administration
for declaring the state of emergency, assuring that such has opened the state
for financial and technical assistance from the federal government which is
determined to end open defecation in Nigeria by 2025.

Goodwill messages were received at the event from the
representatives of UNICEF, EU/NDSP, USAID, among others.

The steering committee has Commissioner of Water Resources
as Secretary, Commissioners for Health, Environment, Agriculture, Finance,
Basic and Secondary Education, Women Affairs, Works, Economic Planning, among
others as members.

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