FG ready to improve access to portable water, sanitation — Minister

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said on Monday that collaboration with its development partners it would do its best to ensure that citizenry had improved access to potable and sanitation.

Minister of , Mrs Sarah Ochekpe, said this at a meeting on implementation of Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Programme Nigeria (RUSHPIN).

The meeting also witnessed the signing of MoU by implementing parties in the programme, which is being supported by Supply Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), an .

“If the issue of sanitation and hygiene is squarely addressed in Nigeria it will have far reaching impact globally.

“Without access to potable water supply and basic sanitation the development and wellbeing of the populace will be in jeopardy.

“It is in view of this that the three tiers of government in Nigeria have put in place a collaborative mechanism to access to water and sanitation.

“The population of Nigeria with access to basic sanitation and hygiene has been fluctuating.

“For us to reach the stated MDG targets massive investment is needed.

“ It is on this note that we welcome the support and participation of our development partners in scaling up access to water and sanitation.’’

Also speaking, the Executive Director of the Geneva-based WSSCC, Dr Chris William, said that no fewer than 30 million Nigerians defecate in the open.

“After India Nigeria is the largest population of people defecate in the open. It is estimated to be between 30 million and 35 million people.

“If one Nigeria right, one the bigger population very much correct; so Nigeria is an important strategic place in addition to strong partners.

“I think now is the time to build on sanitation and hygiene as a priority.

“Nigerians should take up this challenge and look at what countries are doing,” he said.

The UN Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) , Ebele Okeke, in her speech said stakeholders should pool their in the fight against open defecation.

She called on Nigerians to urinating in the open as it had negative effect on the environment.

The project is being implemented in Benue and Cross River states.

Highlight of the event was the signing of the MoU by Ochekpe, Williams and Benue Governor  Gabriel Suswam, was represented by Dr David Salifu, Secretary to the State Government.

The MoU was also signed by the Cross River Governor, Mr Liyel Imoke, was represented by Mr Patrick Imoreh, General Manager Cross River Rural Water Supply and sanitation Agency (RUWASSA).

The parties are working on WSSCC’s five million dollars donation to Nigeria to access to safe water and sanitation its Sanitation Fund (GSF) project.

WSSCC is a multi-stakeholder partnership and membership organisation that works to save and livelihoods. (NAN)