By Patricia Amogu
Abuja, Oct. 15, 2020 Water Aid, an international non-governmental organisation, has called on the Federal Government to double its investment in clean water and hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.
The Country Director, Evelyn Mere made this call in a press statement on Thursday signed by communication and media manager, Oluseyi Abdulmalik to commemorate the 2020 global handwashing day.
The statement declared that over 160 million people in Nigeria are still living without basic handwashing facilities, where clean water and hygiene offer a vital first line of defence against the pandemic.
“As thousands of people across the world demonstrate their support, we are urgently calling on our government to listen and double investment in clean water and hygiene.
“This is so that everyone, including the most vulnerable in our society, have the chance of a healthy and secure future.
“To beat the virus today and ensure better health outcomes beyond the pandemic, handwashing with soap must be a priority now and in the future.
“Today also reminds us of the need to build on the current momentum to make hand hygiene a mainstay in public health interventions beyond the pandemic and create a culture of hand hygiene which must become everyone’s business,” it said.
The statement noted that in Nigeria, a staggering 84 per cent of the people, do not have basic handwashing facilities with water and soap available on premises.
“Frequent handwashing with soap is one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Without this frontline defence, the risk of the virus spreading in communities is greater.
“To make matters worse, in Nigeria, 90 per cent of schools do not have basic handwashing facilities with soap and water, leaving children vulnerable not only to COVID-19 but also to other infectious diseases.
“Millions of children and young people across the country miss lessons as they walk long distances to collect water or use bushes in the school grounds to go to the toilet.
“Due to a continued lack of clean water and soap, children are not only exposed to this disease, they risk spreading it among other members of their community, while those forced to stay home will miss out on vital education.
“In Nigeria, only 7 per cent of healthcare facilities have combined water, sanitation and hygiene access,” it explained.
For the 2020 Global Handwashing Day, WaterAid Nigeria is joining thousands of others through its celebrity-backed Art of Change competition to call for governments to act by bringing clean water and hygiene to everyone.
The competition was launched in July on the 10th anniversary of water and sanitation being recognised by the United Nations General Assembly as vital human rights, which should be afforded to every person.
It attracted 285 artists across 44 countries who produced inspiring artworks on the theme of water and hygiene.
This is to help use their art as a force for good and make the voices of millions heard on this important issue.
Today, WaterAid has announced that the powerful winning Art of Change piece, chosen by the public, “Clean water saves lives’ ’ will now be presented to government leaders across the world.
This is together with a letter of support, urging them to make sure everyone has water and hygiene to defend themselves and their communities against diseases including COVID-19.