Society for Water and Sanitation, Akwa Ibom State Chapter has called on the State Governor, Mr. UDOM Emmanuel to align with the Federal Government and declare State of emergency in Akwa Ibom State Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector in a bid to curb open defecation in the State.
This was the position of the NGO in a press statement made available to our reporter in Uyo.
The Press Statement jointly signed by the State Coordinator of the Organisation, Mr. Edidiong Sambo and the Secretary, Mr. Koko Udo was reached when the Organisation joined the rest of the world in celebrating 2019 World Water Day (WWD) in Uyo.
The Theme of this year’s World Water Day was: “Leaving No One Behind”.
The organisation observed that based on the theme of this Year’s celebration, “a significant number of people especially in the rural communities may be left behind in the State due to the following reasons/gaps: Poor state of WASH facilities in the public school, motor parks, markets, health institutions and coastal communities in the State. This is largely due to unavailability of water at these institutions and high cost of construction in the coastal communities.
“The State is yet to ratify its water Law and establish WASH policies which most of time are critical requirement for accessing external funding and support.
“There is a gross inadequate budgetary provisions for WASH activity as reflected in 2018 and 2019 State budgets respectively
“There is no active WASH steering committee and integrated State level WASH Action Plan (short or long term)”.
The Organisation opined that in other not to leave anyone behind, the State Government: ” should join hands with the Federal Government and declare State of Emergency in Akwa Ibom State WASH Sector.
“Create a separate Ministry (Ministry of Water Resources) in line with Federal Government to coordinate WASH activities and also ensure that the indentified gaps are addressed and set the State on the path of attaining Open Defecation Free (ODF) by 2025 and SDG 6 by 2030”.
The Organisation also commended the State Government for providing counterpart funding to promote implementation of WASH Akwa Ibom State.
“We commend Akwa Ibom State Government for providing counterpart funding for WASH interventions in some Local Government Areas of the State.
“We also knowledge the support of donor agencies and Civil Society Organisations who are implementing specific WASH programme and other projects that are geared towards achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) in some Local Government in the State”.
It was also observed that Akwa Ibom State as a coastal State is faced with challenges of accessing safe and clean water, including poor sanitation and hygiene practices mostly among the rural dwellers.
Poor access to WASH facilities has been itemized as serious threat to health and wellbeing of citizens and therefore needs urgent and proactive intervention.