The Managing Director of the Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC), Engineer Muminu Badmus, dearly wants stakeholders, including government at all levels, to approach the problem of water shortage with renewed vigour and insights.
Badmus made the call at a news conference to announce the maiden edition of the LSWC Annual Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Essay Competition on Wednesday in Lagos, South-West Nigeria.
The competition is in conjuction with the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, with the over 30 participating schools writing on topics related to water, sanitation and hygiene.
The competition, which will be in stages, will be concluded on the World Water Day, March 23.
Earlier, Badmus during his opening remarks, appreciated the key stakeholders in the water sector for coming together at ensuring safe and hygienic water for Lagosians.
Everyone, according to him, had a role to play at ensuring improved water and sanitation facilities to promote handwashing and prevent diseases.
“As we all know, regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs and avoid getting sick.
“If we would recall in 2020 on how safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene services were in high demand as the pandemic rocked different parts of the world.
“This is why I am using the opportunity to call on governments and major stakeholders in the water sector to approach the problem of water shortage with renewed vigour and insights,” Badmus said.
Calling for an attitudinal shift in the water and sanitation crisis, Badmus noted that it was no longer an issue that could be shelved in favour of other sectors.
“Within this vein, the United Nations had decided that this year’s World Water Day’s theme should be: ‘Accelerating Change to solve the water and sanitation crisis’’.
“They know that there is an urgent need to accelerate change, to go beyond business as usual.
“This shows that governments must work at least four times faster than the latest pace in order to meet the sustainable Development Goal number six (SDG Six).
“This SDG 6 states that everyone should have safely managed water and sanitation by 2030,” he said.
He added that everyone must be involved at making this goal possible.
On the competition, Badmus said that he was happy that the children from various schools would be competing with each other on different topics of water and sanitation related issues.
The Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Fumilade Akingbagbohun, in her speech, said that every practical aspect of life required water.
“Life, economy, manufacturing, farming, tourism, recreation, energy production, and other economic sectors need clean water to function and flourish.
“Despite this universal importance of water and scarcity of fresh water, decades of misuse, poor management, and contamination of freshwater supplies have exacerbated water stress.
“In addition, many countries including Nigeria are facing growing challenge of water scarcity caused by climate change, underinvestment in water and sanitation and insufficient cooperation on transboundary waters,” Akingbagbohun said.
She said the use of contaminated drinking water and poor sanitary conditions in Nigerian had resulted in increased vulnerability to water-borne diseases.
“This also includes diaorrhea which leads to deaths of more than 70,000 children under five annually.
“It is especially worse among low-income communities who also have the little access to information needed to manage their situations,” she said.
She added that inadequate, or inappropriately managed water and sanitation services expose individuals to preventable health risks.
“United Nations SDG Six calls for ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, and ending open defecation.
“It also aims to improve water quality and water-use efficiency and to encourage sustainable abstractions and supply of freshwater.
“It is in view of these challenges that we have chosen to team up with our development partner, LSWC, to organise this advocacy programme.
“This is with dual focus of creating awareness and also tasking young people to get involved,” she said.
She said the essay competition would challenge the participants to think creatively and formulate ideas.
“They are also to formulate solutions toward deepening practical understanding of WASH and various means of achieving SDG Six.
“Young people are the best chance of addressing this. Youths are key stakeholders in building a sustainable sanitation ecosystem in every community.
“They are agile and can influence behaviourial change at the grassroots level.
“Therefore, getting youths actively engaged in the process of sanitation provision, in every way possible is a gamechanger,” she said.
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