By Omeiza Ajayi
The National Human Rights Commission NHRC has described access to clean water as a human rights issue, lamenting how the lack of access negatively impacts on the well-being and human rights of citizens.
Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu who stated this during a webinar on access to clean water and sanitation in Abuja said no responsible government can afford to play politics with such essential commodity.
He noted that the stakeholders meeting was aimed at strengthening and reinforcing the right to clean water and sanitation in Nigeria, through collaboration with the Commission.
Ojukwu in his remarks said; “Our engagement today is to start the process of continuous creation of awareness about the citizen’s right to clean water and sanitation.
“We are all aware there is a nexus between clean water and sanitation. The lack of clean water and sanitation impacts on the wellness and wellbeing of citizens. This situation needs to be urgently addressed especially in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic which necessitates good practices relating to the use of clean water sanitation and general hygiene”.
Also, Head of Monitoring in the Commission, Mr. Benedict Agu reiterated the need to continue to involve community gate-keepers like traditional and religious leaders, the civil society and local governments, concerned agencies and International Development Partners in the creation of awareness for improved Water and Sanitation Hygiene policies in order to mainstream human rights norms into Nigeria’s water resource and sanitation management.
In her presentation on the theme, “Unsafe water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Nigeria’s Public Spaces: Its Effects on the COVID 19 Pandemic on Human Rights”, Mrs. Oluwayemisi Akhile said the primary responsibility of the Federal, State and Local governments in this era is to ensure safe water, basic sanitation, and waste management disposal in communities, healthcare facilities and quarantine centres.
She restated the need to ensure that water utilities have the required financial and safe operational conditions to continue to deliver services in public spaces thereby promoting and protecting the rights of its citizens.
“Any action short of this goes contrary to the core human rights principle of non-discrimination, which will, in turn, expose a certain section of the population to health risks and probably death based on their economic status or because of the community they reside in”, she added.
In his presentation, Dr. Bala Yusuf Yunusa from the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) said that Nigerian government has demonstrated a strong commitment towards the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the SDGs pointing out that institutional frameworks have been established at the national and sub-national levels to support effective implementation of the SDGs.
The SDGs, he noted cannot be achieved with stand-alone programmes and project rather, must be carefully integrated into national and sub-national policies and development plans.
According to him, “within the framework of SDG-6, we have a universal commitment and support to provide clean water and sanitation for humanity”.
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