Abuja — As Nigeria joins the world to commemorate Water Day, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has reiterated that 69 million Nigerians do not have access to safe water and 19 million have to walk long distances to get water.
This was revealed by the Chief of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), UNICEF Nigeria, Zaid Jurji, in collaboration with the recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2016/17, which also indicated that about 40 per cent of households do not have access to clean water sources.
In a statement signed by UNICEF Communications Specialist, Ms. Eva Hinds, Jurji said improving water and sanitation services as well as basic hygiene practices in Nigeria, calls for a strong commitment from all partners-the government, the civil society, the private sector and communities.
He said: "For Nigeria to achieve the global goal of providing access to safe water for every citizen by 2030, it needs to make water, together with sanitation and hygiene, a national priority. This goal is closely linked with three key results for the country-good health, environment sustainability and economic prosperity.
"Access to safe drinking water remains a challenge to majority of Nigerians, especially those living in the rural areas. The recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by the government of Nigeria in 2016/17, indicated that about 40 per cent of households and about 69 million people do not have access to clean water sources.
"In the rural areas, 19 million people walk long distances to collect unsafe water from lakes, streams and rivers.
"Children without access to safe water are more likely to die in infancy and throughout childhood from water-borne diseases. Diarrhea remains the leading cause of death among children under ﬁve years of age in Nigeria.
"Waterborne diseases also contribute to stunting. A stunted child is shorter than he or she could have been, and will never be able to reach his or her full cognitive potential. Lack of safe water and sanitation also makes children vulnerable to other threats beyond health. Many children in rural areas spend several hours daily collecting water, missing out on the opportunity to go to school."
UNICEF, in collaboration with the federal, state and local governments, has provided safe water during the past five years to over eight million Nigerians living in rural areas.