Stakeholders in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector have bemoaned the challenges of hand washing practices with soap in the country.
Mr Emmanuel Awe, the Director, Water Quality Control and Sanitation in the Ministry of Water Resources said this while declaring open the Nigeria Handwashing Roundtable meeting on Wednesday in Abuja.
The meeting was organised by the National Task Group on Sanitation (NTGS) with support of the Global Handwashing Partnership and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).
The meeting was aimed at reviewing the challenges and how to effectively create awareness on the practice of hand washing with soap.
“In the WASH sector, sanitation is often seen as the orphan, receiving little attention and funding.
“But much more so is hygiene, which is indicated under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) six as availability of hand washing facilities with soap and water.
“Hand washing with soap is considered as an affordable, accessible “do-it-yourself” vaccine for sanitation and hygiene related diseases like diarrhea, cholera, typhoid fever among others that are prevalent in our communities.
“It is estimated to cut death from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by a quarter. It also helps to ensure the sustenance of effort to end Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) which are endemic in some communities,” he said.
Awe said in Nigeria, about 100,000 children under the age of five die annually due to diseases caused by poor sanitation and unhygienic practices, which about 33 per cent of the children are stunted, limiting their mental development.
The director said according to the 2018, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) Report, national access to basic hygiene services was 21 per cent with an estimated 150 million people lacking access.
“In schools and health care facilities, access to basic hygiene is 28 per cent and 40 per cent respectively, while only five per cent of public places such as markets and parks have hygiene facilities.
“The absence of WASH facilities, including hand washing stations in schools, healthcare facilities and workplaces are equity issues for girls and women, particularly for menstrual hygiene management.
“The availability of hand washing stations can stop the spread of diseases in these setting. It must be noted that the benefits accruable through provision of these facilities depends on the utilisation.
“Behaviour change is required for people to wash their hands consistently at key times,” Awe said.
Mrs Chizoma Opara, the Acting Coordinator Clean Nigeria, said that the ‘Clean Nigeria:Use the Toilet’ campaign under the National Programme was aimed at ending open defecation by 2025.
Opara said that the campaign would be officially launched on Nov. 19 by President Muhammadu Buhari to improve sanitation services in the country.
“The campaign will have integral component, hygiene promotion with emphasis on hand washing at critical times to break oral-route diseases transmission.’’
Mr Ron Clemmer, the Global Handwashing Partnership, Washington, U.S., said that hand washing was critical all the time in households, schools, healthcare, workplaces and emergency situations.
Clemmer noted that only 19 per cent of the world’s population particularly wash their hands with soap after contact with feaces.
He noted that only 20 per cent of people wash hands before preparing food, while only 31 per cent of health workers practices proper hand hygiene at critical time.
He said “findings shows that lack of hand washing with soap is a global risk present in all regions and it is a reminder that this nexus of risk is relevant to all countries, not just the poorest.’’
Mrs Elizabeth Warmera, a representative of Water Supply, Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) Office, Geneva, Switzerland said that the SDG six for Water and Sanitation, hand washing with soap was an essential factor.
She said this contributed to other SDGs on zero hunger, child survival, nutrition, good health, among others.
“This has the power to improve access to education for children, protect the health of patients and reduce inequalities which cuts across other goals,” she said.
Dead Fishes:Environment Groups Demand Palliatives For Bonny Residents
Two environment groups in Nigeria, the Bonny Environment Consultant Committee (BECC) and the Association of Environmental Lawyers of Nigeria, have decried the devastating impact of the massive dead fishes floating along the Bonny coastline in Rivers State which they say have destroyed economic lives of the inhabitants of the area, with a call for the provision of palliatives to them.
The groups which made their position known in separate interviews with The Tide in Port Harcourt said it was not enough to unravel the causes of the dead fishes on the coastline but that there was the need to provide palliatives to the people whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by the ugly incident.
The Chairman of Bonny Environment Consultant Committee, Prof. Sodeinye Abere, who described the incident as disturbing, said on confirming the veracity of the massive dead fishes on the Bonny coastline, his committee directed the people to stop harvesting, buying and eating fishes for now, thereby temporarily putting on hold their means of livelihoods.
According to him, “the stench of the dead fishes alone is very, very disturbing. Ordinarily, the coastline dwellers enjoy the cosy breeze that comes in and refreshes their bodies. It is no more the case. More than that, with the Coronavirus issue restricting people’s movement, again, the ordinary Bonny man can go behind of his house at the creek and fetch fish to subsist with, but he cannot do that any more. The economic load now would be so much on the ordinary natives.”
To cushion the effects of this seeming disruption of the people’s socio-economic wellbeing, Prof. Abere said there was the need to provide palliatives to them. “Palliative measures are also solicited because our people waiting to die of Coronavirus should be alive first”, he said.
He pointed out that there was also the need not to only investigate the circumstances surrounding the dead fishes but also the physiochemical properties of the water where the fishes live, stressing that if not properly handled, the situation can become a pandemic in Nigeria.
On his part, the President of the Association of Environmental Lawyers of Nigeria, Dr Samuel Chisa Dike said the body was disturbed by the development and urged the Federal Government to treat the issue the same way it is treating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dike, an Associate Professor of Energy and Environment Law at the Rivers State University, stressed the need for critical stakeholders to work together to address the issue.
“ You never can tell who has consumed this specie of fishes since one month now. And we want to be sure that government is sensitised about it, because there is the tendency to tell the people about the danger of consuming the fishes but another thing is what happens to their economic lives?”, he queried.
By: Donatus Ebi
COVID-19: Man O’ War Distributes Hand Sanitisers To Eneka Residents
The Rivers State Command of the “Man O’ War” Nigeria has distributed thousands of hand sanitisers to residents of Eneka and other communities in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
The State Commandant of the paramilitary organisation, Barrister Dignity N. Nwieke, told newsmen during a sensitisation programme on the coronavirus pandemic in Eneka that, the move was to complement the effort of the State Government at checking the spread of the disease to the state.
Barrister Nwieke said the sensitisation programme which started in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area will be taken round the 23 local government areas.
According to him, as a responsible organisation the Man O’ War will not wait for the Rivers State Government to shoulder the burden of checking the spread of the disease alone, stressing that the organisation must play its part in ensuring that Rivers State is coronavirus free.
The State Commandant also called on other organisations and agencies to assist the state governor towards combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Governor Wike is trying. He needs the support of everybody to succeed,” he said.
Nwieke also called on the people of Eneka and other communities to maintain the highest level of personal hygiene, by washing their hands regularly with soap and running water, avoiding handshakes and keeping their environment clean.
He also called for support to the paramilitary organisation.
Some beneficiaries of the hand sanitisers commended the organisation for the gesture.
RSG Probes Causes Of Dead Fishes As Andoni Communities Raise Alarm Over Likelihood Of Epidemic
The Rivers State Government says it will investigate the incident of thousands of dead fishes along the Bonny and Andoni coastal waterways.
The State Commissioner for Environment, Dr Igbikis Tamuno, said this in a press release while reacting to reports of floating dead fishes along the Bonny and Andoni waterways.
The release signed by the Commissioner, Dr Igbikis Tamuno said the government will investigate the cause of the dead fishes.
The Commissioner also urged indigenes of coastal communities both in Bonny and Andoni not to eat the dead fishes.
Meanwhile, residents of some coastal communities in Andoni Local Government Area have alleged the presence of thousands of dead fishes along the Andoni River.
According to the residents, thousands of dead fishes are being washed ashore by Atlantic waves.
Speaking in an interview with The Tide, a resident of Muma community, Engr Joshua Ngo said the area may experience an epidemic if the decaying fishes are not properly buried.
Engr Ngo, also said, multinational companies operating in the area are denying being responsible for the incident.
According to him, the incident has deprived fishermen of their sources of livelihood as the entire coast stretching from Muma to Finima in Bonny Local Government Area has been polluted.
The community leader also called for the entire coastal environment of Andoni stretching from Oyorokoto to Ibot-Okpon Obolo to be fumigated in order to save the communities from epidemic.
Ngo also called for the communities to be compensated with relief materials.
Also speaking, the Chairman, Community Development Committee (CDC), Ngo mainland, Mr Clement Clement Sunday, called on the government to act urgently as hunger may force the people to feed on the dead fishes.
Sunday also told The Tide that all oil companies operating in the Andoni territorial waters have denied responsibility for the dead fishes.
“We have contacted companies operating in the area and they said they don’t know what caused the death of the fishes.
According to him, more than 20 communities in the coastal environment are on the verge of starvation as the decaying fishes have polluted the entire source of water source.
“I want to call on the government to come to the aide of the communities as the decaying fishes are all over the water surface.
“Hunger is looming,” he said.
Meanwhile, an Environmentalist, Mr Iniruo Wills, has urged the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), to probe the cause of death of fishes along the Niger Delta coastline.
Wills, in an interview with newsmen in Yenagoa, noted that dead fishes littered the coastline across Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States.
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