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The Accountant-General of the Federation in Nigeria affirms that policies and programmes designed to improve water, sanitation and hygiene must be supported by the government and its treasury office. The honourable Ahmed Idris expressed his support in a meeting with members of the Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN) in Abuja on 1 July.
The accountant-general went on to state that access to water sanitation and hygiene for citizens is non-negotiable if the dignity of life is to be preserved. He said that sanitation means living well, and living decently in a clean environment and that anything that degrades the environment degrades sanitation and poses a danger to human life.
“There are also other steps that government has taken in line with meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on Water and Sanitation such as, funding the Ministries of Water Resources and Environment, and other ministries that do similar work has been on the priority list of the government,” he said.
NEWSAN is a coordinating network of more than 300 civil society, non-governmental and community-based organizations working to ensure access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities across Nigeria. The organization is supported by stakeholders such as Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).
Recently, the Nigerian government has renewed its commitment to address its dire WASH realities. A seeks to advance Nigeria’s commitment to being open defecation free by 2025 and implement a National Open Defecation Free (ODF) Roadmap.
Echoing the accountant-general, Mr Benson Attah, NEWSAN’s National Coordinator, insisted that for Nigeria to achieve its ODF goals, financing WASH-related projects and programmes must be given maximum priority.
A policy brief released by NEWSAN in November 2018 noted that there had been no significant increase in budgets for sanitation at either federal or state levels. In the brief, NEWSAN highlighted a situation where the Federal Ministry of Environment had no budget allocation for sanitation between 2014 and 2016. In 2017, while there was a budget line for sanitation, it was less than 0.5% against a 1.0% commitment, with only 46% of the amount budgeted being released.
The honourable Idris, while commending NEWSAN for its advocacy for a much-improved WASH sector in Nigeria, noted that the federal government is increasingly making all its activities transparent by adopting open governance principles that allow all stakeholders to have independent access to information on its open treasury portal.
The Treasury’s commitment to supporting WASH comes on the heels of the recent announcement by Mr Suleiman Adamu, Minister for Water Resources, that N10bn (approximately US$27.7m) will be shared among Nigerian as part of efforts to end COVID-19 pandemic in the country.