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April 20, 2024
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World Water Day: Lagos unveils new WASH policy

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By Adebola Adegoke/Mariam Akande

The Lagos State Government, has unveiled its new Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) policy 2023, aimed at improving access to clean water and sanitation.

The state government said that the policy was also in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Six.

The policy was presented during an event organised in commemoration of the 2024 World Water Day with the theme: “Water for Peace.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Lagos State WASH policy was developed by the Lagos State Government with technical support from United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The technical support came through the USAID/Nigeria Lagos Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (LUWASH) Activity.

Presenting the policy, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said it served as a guiding framework in the journey towards ensuring universal access to clean water and sanitation.

Sanwo-Olu was represented by the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Mr Tokunbo Wahab.

“This comprehensive policy outlines a holistic approach to water management, encompassing strategies for conservation, pollution prevention, and equitable distribution.

“By implementing the provisions of the WASH Policy, we reaffirm our commitment to leave no-one behind in our quest for water security and peace.

“In our pursuit of water security and sustainability, it is imperative that we embrace the principles of inclusivity and equity.

“By addressing water scarcity and inequities in access, we can mitigate conflicts and build a more peaceful and just society,” he said.

The governor added that the ongoing activities of the LUWASH project supported by USAID, exemplified the government’s dedication to promoting water security and sustainability in urban areas.

He said that LUWASH was currently supporting the water sector in various activities, which included rehabilitation of five micro/mini water works for Lagos Water Corporation (LWC).

He said that it also included capacity building for Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission (LASWARCO) in the area of tariff setting, and supporting the development of a business case for Lagos State Wastewater Management Office (LSWMO).

“Through innovative interventions and partnerships, we are improving water infrastructure, enhancing sanitation services, and empowering communities to take ownership of their water resources.

“By investing in urban WASH initiatives, we are not only improving the quality of life for urban dwellers, but also fostering resilience and social cohesion in our cities.

The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Aliyu Shinkafi, said access to clean water remained a luxury for too many people.

Utsev said that this led to inequality, conflict, and instability.

“More than 3 billion people worldwide depend on water that crosses national borders.

“Yet, only 24 countries have cooperation agreements for all their shared water as reported by the UN waters.

“Public health and prosperity, food and energy systems, economic productivity and environmental integrity all rely on a well-functioning and equitably managed water cycle.

“Today, we are confronted with unprecedented challenges, from the escalating impacts of climate change to the growing demands of a rapidly expanding global population.

“Yet, in the face of these challenges, we must also recognise the immense potential of water as a catalyst for cooperation, collaboration and peace-building,” he said.

Speaking on the theme, Utsev highlighted the power of water to create peace or spark conflict.

According to him, when water is scarce or polluted, or when people have unequal, or no access to water, tensions can rise between communities and countries.

“By harnessing the power of water as a tool for diplomacy and dialogue, we can bridge divides, build trust and forge lasting partnerships that transcend the limitations of geography and ideology.

“By promoting inclusive governance structures, promoting integrated water resource management, and investing in water infrastructure and technology, we can create the conditions for peace to flourish and prosperity to thrive,” he said.

Mr James Racicot, LUWASH Chief of Party, explained that LUWASH was implemented in 2023 as a five-year $38.9 million activity supported by USAID.

He said that it was to increase the availability, quality and use of safe water and sanitation services.

According to him, the objectives of the LUWASH activity are to strengthen governance and institutional arrangement to deliver improved WASH services, improve public and private service provider performance.

Others, Racicot said, are to increase access to safe and sustainable water services and improve the quality of source water.

“LUWASH has started capacity building of key institutional stakeholders and will soon begin rehabilitation of selected priority Lagos Water Corporation water works to enable increased water production and supply,” Racicot said.

Edited by Christiana Fadare

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