Reporter : ONYINYE CHIJIOBI –
An interministerial steering committee on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) has been constituted in Anambra State.
Inaugurating the committee in Awka, Governor Willie Obiano said that the interministerial steering committee would enable the state to align with the clean Nigeria Campaign by the Federal Government, which aimed to end open defecation in the country by 2025.
The states involved in the “EU/UNICEF supported Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme 2” include Anambra, Cross River, Jigawa, kano, Osun, and Yobe states.
The programme is aimed at enhancing child survival and development through sustainable access to water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Governor Willie Obiano said that the importance of the event is derived from the fact that clean and healthy habits remained humanity’s only armour against COVID-19 until a widely accepted vaccine is made available to all.
The Governor expressed hope that the launch of the interministerial steering committee on WASH would strengthen the state collaborative efforts with UNICEF to make the state open defaecation free and address other crucial issues in the public health sector of the state.
While saying that lack of portable water could cripple all well meaning initiatives and open communities up to a high incidence of diseases, infection and death, the Governor maintained that the partnership with UNICEF would give the people a fighting chance against ailments caused by lack of portable water, open defaecation and other poor hygiene practices.
The State Commissioner for Public Utility, Mr. Emeka Ezenwanne, lamented that less than 50 percent of Nigerians lacked access to sanitation while about nine million people still practiced open defaecation.
The Commissioner said that the present administration had made giant strides in the WASH sector through the Otuocha and Obizi regional water schemes, among others.
WASH Manager UNICEF Enugu, Mrs. Mamita Bora-Thakker, who commended the Federal Government for declaring a state of emergency on WASH and launch of clean Nigeria campaign to accelerate progress towards an Open Defecation Free (ODF) country by 2025 and commended the state government for its significant improvements in wash.
While stressing the need for the people to change their mind set on sanitation, Mrs. Bora-Thakker said that though the WSSRRP project had ended, UNICEF would continue to support the state.
She stressed that UNICEF would support all interventions to make Anambra East the first ODF local government Area in the state by 2021, saying that it would help establish a stable model for the state.
The slogan of WASH campaign in the state is “Operation Clean Anambra Use the Toilet.”