The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Ambassador for Nigeria, Ms Ebele Okeke, has said that her advocacy efforts for 2013 would focus more on support for flood victims and persons with disabilities.
Okeke told newsmen in Abuja on Thursday that these groups of people were in great number, more vulnerable and needed much attention this year.
We recall that the 2012 flooding was unprecedented in the nation’s history, as not less than 34 states were affected and a large number of communities displaced.
The floods affected millions of people, resulting in loss of lives and the destruction of property and infrastructure worth several billions of naira. Current statistics from the Joint National Associations of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) indicate that there are more than 23.5 million persons with disabilities in Nigeria. This group of people have always canvassed for inclusion and equity in government’s developmental programmes, especially in water and sanitation programmes.
Okeke, who is also a member of the Presidential Task Force on Flood Alleviation and Treatment headed by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said she would use the position and her ambassadorial seat to canvass for support for the flood victims and the physically challenged.
The task force targets N100 billion for the supply of meals and rehabilitation for the victims to an even better lifestyle experienced before the flood. ‘’For 2013, my focus will be the disabled, taking them in, considering their situation and making sure that we think about them when we build facilities; it is very important and that’s what we are trying to do. ‘’There has been a lot of flood in Nigeria; so myself and UNICEF are co-chairing what we call Water and Sanitation Working Group, and emergency response group. ‘’Also, I’ve been co-opted into the Presidential Task Group on Flooding, so I’m going to focus a lot on the flood victims because they need to be advocated for so that they don’t fall ill.
‘’This is the time for cholera, typhoid, and for children to die from diarrhoea so they have to be told the little things they have to do and once they know that, they will save their lives,’’ she said.
On the achievements and challenges of the previous year, Okeke said that she had used her position as WASH Ambassador to establish advocacy at both grassroots and the high levels of government.
‘’I worked extremely hard last year and we’ve achieved quite a lot; we’ve advocated to women, to children, we’ve even discussed what we’ve done with international organisations outside Nigeria and they are quite interested.