Campaigning for increased access to water sanitation and hygiene for all

3 min read
Image: WaterAid/Tom Saater

Globally, access to clean water, improved hygiene and sanitation are recognised as the first essential steps to reducing poverty and crucial for sustainable development. In spite of this, they remain in the background and are given little or no priority in national and global agendas.

As an international charity with a vision of a world where everyone, everywhere has access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene, we advocate for the prioritisation of these life-saving services in Nigeria’s national agenda and development plans. We believe that the basic human rights to water and sanitation should be fulfilled and governments have a huge responsibility to make this happen. To ensure this, we leverage on global campaign days and other influencing strategies to call for urgent action towards increased access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene in Nigeria.

Water is life, necessary for the survival of all living organisms on earth. However, about 60 million people in Nigeria lack access to clean water, resulting in devastating consequences for their health and general wellbeing.

Every March 22, we get the chance to reiterate the importance of freshwater in the sustainable development agenda, and advocate for increased investment in the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities, schools, public places and communities.

Proper menstrual hygiene management for women and girls requires inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools and in public places as well as access to protection materials at affordable rates.

Every 28 May, we talk louder about periods and advocate for the prioritisation of good menstrual hygiene management for all women and girls, particularly with clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene.

Proper hand hygiene stops the spread of infectious disease, yet, in Nigeria, only about 13% of the population have access to handwashing facilities. The promotion of this handwashing practice is estimated to reduce diarrhoeal diseases by between 27% and 48%.

On October 15, we increase awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap and water, as one of the simplest and cost-effective ways to prevent the spread of fatal contagious diseases.

Sanitation is a basic human right, yet 110 million of the Nigerian population lack decent toilets. Poor sanitation is one of the glaring indicators of povery, epidemics and poor health, and is globally recognised at being at the root of dozens of fatal contagious diseases, many of which are prevalent among children.

Every 19 November, we amp up our advocacy to governments and responsible institutions as well as inform, engage and inspire people to take action towards improving access to decent toilets to end open defecation by 2030.

These global water, sanitation and hygiene campaign days give us an added to advocate for the change we seek, and go a long way in highlighting the adverse effects of a lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene services. They further allow for the integration of water, sanitation and hygiene into other sectors and allows us to form the strong alliances needed to improve access to these life-saving services for everyone, everywhere.