*says investments can unlock billions of Dollars
By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
Worried over the basic sanitation of the public, WaterAid Nigeria has said that about 167 million Nigerians lack adequate handwashing facilities, adding that millions of people do not have access to basic water supply across various communities in the country.
WaterAid Nigeria also said in a statement by the Country Director, Evelyn Mere, that providing soap and water everywhere for everyone can yield US$45 billion per year for the country, while making sure everyone has a tap at home can yield US$37 billion per year.
The report cited by the organization, “Mission critical: invest in water, sanitation and hygiene for a healthy and green economic recovery” shows that reaching the levels of access defined by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals could unlock huge sums:
“Ensuring everyone has a toilet where waste is safely managed can yield US$86 billion per year in greater productivity and reduced health costs amongst other benefits. Ensuring everyone has somewhere to wash their hands with soap and water can yield US$45 billion per year. Ensuring everyone has a tap at home can yield US$37 billion per year.”
Mere, said investment in water, sanitation and hygiene is mission-critical not only to ending Covid-19 pandemic and preventing the next, but to bouncing back economically by unlocking trillions of dollars of value for the global economy.
She noted that Water and sanitation have been side-lined over time and their value overlooked, trapping millions in poverty.
According to the statement; “research shows that it’s an extremely cost-effective investment. Ensuring everyone everywhere has access to even basic water, hygiene and toilets would bring returns of up to 21 times the cost. There can be no going back to the pre-pandemic business-as-usual.”
WaterAid, also cited Caroline Vexler, Senior Economist at Vivid Economics, who led analysis that fed into the report, saying; “Our global benefit-cost analysis demonstrates that investing in WASH is a triple win: it can unlock billions in economic opportunities and health savings at relatively low cost, it can address key objectives of stimulus spending post-COVID and can build resilience to increasing global risks.”
The statement further reads; “the cost of not investing in the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector far exceeds the cost of investing. It is impossible to quantify the impacts of poor water supply and sanitation on livelihoods, health, child development, productivity, education, gender, and security outcomes. With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging across the world, the need for quality water, sanitation, and hygiene services has never been more important.”
WaterAid stressed that in order to get progress on track, the government, businesses and donors must appreciate the value of achieving universal access to vital WASH services and expedite actions that ensure sustainable WASH for all.
They however, called on governments, donors and businesses to do the right thing and prioritise the most vulnerable communities by making water, sanitation and hygiene investments central to their COVID-19 response, pandemic-preparedness and green recovery plans.
Other key findings of the report include:
“Protecting water and sanitation infrastructure from worsening flooding is one of the best ways we can protect the world’s most vulnerable people from the impacts of climate change – for every US Dollar spent on strategic flood resilience upgrades, US$62 in flood restoration costs can be avoided, as well as preventing life-threatening contamination of drinking water sources.
“The provision of even just a community water pump or well can give women and girls the equivalent of 77 million working days per year that they currently spend collecting water; whilst upgrading to a tap in every house would free-up 122 million working days that are annually stolen from them. The impact on the lives, prospects and freedom of women and girls, as well as a country’s economic success, would be transformative.”
The statement further noted that “achieving the UN targets on sanitation could prevent up to six billion cases of diarrhoea and 12 billion cases of parasitic worms between 2021 and 2040. Diarrhoea kills more than 70,000 children each year, and hookworm – just one type of parasitic worms – affects 500 million people each year, meaning that every year four million years are lost to people through ill-health or shortened lives.
“Universal access to handwashing can reduce cumulative infections in a respiratory disease epidemic even if no other actions are taken – saving days that COVID-19 shows can be vital for response and containment efforts to limit the spread of infections.”