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.
Sanitation Marshalls Warn Against Dumping Refuse In Gutters
The Coordinator of Rivers
State Sanitation Marshalls, Prince Sodin Akiaba has warned residents of Port Harcourt and it environs against dumping of refuse into drainages.
Speaking in an interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt, Prince Akiabo blamed uses of flooding in parts of Port Harcourt especially in the Mile III area of the indiscriminate dumping of refuse into the gutters.
He said that with the approach of the rainy season, there is need for caution on the part of the people against indiscriminate refuse disposal.
Prince Akiaba said that the situation could lead to massive flooding across the city thereby creating health problem for the people.
He said that there is need for neighbourhood vigilantees to check this situation.
“Every street in Port Harcourt should formed a vigilantee to monitor refuse disposal in their street.
“This is the only way to stop the indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the drains,” he said.
The coordinator said that the sanitation marshalls can help the government to check this trend, if approval is given to that effect by the government.
He used the occasion to commend the Rivers State Ministry of Environment and the Rivers State Environmental Sanitation Authority for the efforts in keeping the city clean, but noted that the two agencies need to work with stakeholders for effective result.
NOSDRA Seeks Oil Spill Response Base
The National Oil Spill De
tection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has called on the military to establish an Oil Spill Response Base (OSRB) for quick intervention during oil spill emergencies.
Mr Peter Idabor, the Director General of the agency, made the call during a courtesy visit to Vice Admiral Usman Jibril, the Chief of Naval Staff, in Abuja.
Idabor said the base, if established, would serve as a veritable security for quick response and intervention by the agency during oil spill emergencies.
He recalled the Bonga oil spill incident and commended the Navy for providing a vessel to NOSDRA that ensured quick response.
According to him, crises usually occurred between affected communities and companies involved during oil spill emergencies.
He said partnership with the Navy had become critical due to its role in providing security to the maritime environment.
“It has become more critical for us to partner with the Nigerian Navy, especially when it has to do with issues relating to oil spill in this country.
“When there is a large oil spill, there is usually conflict between the community and the company involved.
“In most cases, it is sabotage and in such cases, we require the military to come in at certain point.’’
He said that most of the deaths in the Niger Delta had positive correlations with oil spillage.
He explained that people were at the risk of being affected by eating food that come from such polluted environment.
He also said the life span of most Nigerians was shortening due to the effect oil spill on the ecosystem.
“The attitudes of our oil explorers, especially when spills occur, it does not bother them that over a million of chemicals are spilled into the sea, which is very dangerous to health.
“The oil spill contaminate our aquatic resources and it affects the entire food chain as long as we survive on the food chain.’’
Responding, Jibril said the Navy was familiar with the operation of the agency, adding that it would support NOSDRA to stop oil spill in the country.
He said the force was also aware of the effects of oil spill to aquatic life and the environment.
The Navy Chief also commended the agency’s cooperation with the military, saying “you have reduced spillage and its attendant effects in the country within this few days.
“We are ready to contribute to stop oil spillage and we are ready to give to you information about spillage whenever they occur.
“Our new boats that we are importing from China have facilities to contain oil spillage.’’
He however, said the delay in the release of boats to the agency was to control their misuse and advised the agency’s management to henceforth, put in its administrative request at their time of need.
He gave an assurance that the Navy would reduce administrative bottlenecks to enable the agency to access the facility during emergencies.
Jibril, however, sought the support of NOSDRA in the provision of infrastructure to the force, saying, “we need to support one another to achieve our goals.
“We have the human capital base to do what we are trained to do; what we need more is the infrastructure and we call on other organisations to support us too.’’
N300m Debt Worries C’River Water Board
Mr James Buchan, the
General Manager (Operations) of Cross River State Water Board, said more than N300 million owed it by various consumers in the state posed a challenge to its operations.
Buchan said this in an interview with the newsmen in Calabar last week, saying that the board was worried about the debt.
He said the board spent an average of N25 million monthly on diesel and chemicals to sustain water supply, urging the consumers who owed to settle their bills.
The general manager said that the state government paid its water bills regularly, urging the consumer’s to emulate the government by paying their bills to avoid disconnection.
Buchan further advised the consumers to always make genuine complaints about the services of the board to guarantee uninterrupted clean water supply.
The manager also urged consumers to shun illegal connection and to report to the board, those, including its staff members, who engaged in fraudulent activities.
“We want to supply to the public well treated water, we want to provide 24 hours service to the people, but we can only do this with the help of the people,’’ he said.
Buchan promised that Geographic Information System had been put in place to streamline the operations of the board and improve services.
He said the board was also worried over the damage of its pipelines worth more than N300 million by road construction companies in the state.
Buchan said the board had, however, drawn the attention of the officials of the concerned construction companies to the development.
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