The WASHMATA Initiative has expressed concern over the Presidential Task Force’s silence on the supply and accessibility of clean water to Nigerians amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
A signed statement by the Executive Director of the Initiative, Dr. Boluwaji Onabolu, stressed the need to include the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Commissioners for Water Resources and Heads of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agencies in the national and state task forces for Covid-19 control.
In her statement, Onabolu said, ‘[A]s a public health expert with over a decade of work experience with the United Nations in various countries and capacities, focused on ensuring water supply, sanitation, and hygiene, I would like to commend the efforts of the Nigerian government through the Presidential Task Force on the control of Covid-19. However, the silence of the Task Force on the provision of adequate quantities of water for people to wash their hands with soap under running water for 20 seconds, as being recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), for the effective control of [Covid-19] is very worrisome’.
‘In a country where two-thirds of the populace lack clean drinking water, 94 percent of the health facilities and almost all the overcrowded motor parks and markets lack water, sanitation, and handwashing facilities. A plan to urgently and systematically provide WASH services, in the Covid-19 national response is critical otherwise it may result in an exponential rise in [Covid-19] cases as seen in USA and Italy’, she added.
She urged the Task Force not to render their efforts ineffective by ignoring the challenge of the poor lacking access to clean water or the challenge of other vulnerable groups living in overcrowded areas. She recommended that the Task Force confront those challenges squarely.
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