By Chigozie Uzosike
To ensure availability of safe and accessible water in Imo State, Christian Fellowship and Care Foundation (CFCF) in collaboration with Center for Peace Across Borders (CePAB) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has urged citizens to lodge complaints to claim their water and sanitation rights.
Speaking during a one day capacity building with National Human Rights Commission on supporting citizens/communities to lodge complaints to claim their Water and Sanitation right, held at the office of NHRC, Owerri, the Project Manager of CePAB, Ohaka Amauche called on citizens to use their votes to demand for their human rights to safe water and sanitation. She revealed that the essence of the meeting was to connect the community members to NHRC, so that they can learn how to write and lodge their complaints on issues concerning water and sanitation rights for quick attention.
She noted that it is estimated that 60 million Nigerians live without access to clean, safe water, while 120 million lack access to decent toilet and sanitation facilities and 46 million practice open defecation.
The civil society and development expert, Amauche said Goal 6 of the SDGs is one of the most interconnected goals, and undoubtedly increasing access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene aids economic development, poverty reduction and education – especially for goals , health and many more.
She hinted that it is the Governments responsibility to fulfil this human rights to safe water and sanitation especially those in the rural areas. And it is not just safe water, but also to make sure that they have access to it and also to make sure that it is available and affordable to the citizens.
In her comment, the Imo Coordinator of NHRC, Uka Ukachi said the commission is open for complaints pertaining to violation of human rights especially water and sanitation rights, adding that they also liaise with other state and government agencies to address issues of violation of human and environmental rights.
Speaking during the meeting, the Head of water Services Department, Imo State Water and Sewerage Corporation, who represented the MD/CEO ISWSC, Engr. Henry Adiruo said that Access to Water and Sanitation are recognised by United Nations as human rights – Fundamental to everyone’s health, dignity and prosperity.
He noted that it is the right of citizens to request for safely managed Water and Sanitation.
In conclusion Engr. Henry Adiruo said that marginalized groups are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination as the try to access the water and Sanitation services they need. Government must take a human right based approach (HRBA) which ISWSC has also adopted to water and Sanitation improvements, so that no one will be left behind.
In his contributions, a participant from one of communities that brought their complaints to the NHRC, Nwoko Koke Alozie from Ahiazu Mbaise said he learned alot on the process of filling complaints to the Commission.
He called on the government to make necessary efforts to revamp the Water Scheme at Mpam and Ogbe in Ahiazu local government area, stressing that given that those Water Schemes were properly treated, it will reduce spate of untreated water taken by the citizenry. He called on the government to constitute monitoring team that will go into the communities to ensure compliance with the specifications of drilling boreholes that have become order of the day.
Ifeanyi Nwodu of CFCF urged the citizens to leverage on the forthcoming Nigerian general elections to use their votes to demand that government keeps to the legal obligations they have already agreed to.
In his contribution, the Coordinator, Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN), Imo State, Ikenna Anumnu noted that given that Imo State Corporation is doing her best to ensure safe water, there was need for more work.
He posited that in the Wash sector, there’s alot to be done to enable citizens have access to available, safe and accessible water. He said in this election period, it is important that citizens make their stand known on water, calling on them to also look out for policies around safe water provision from the candidates of 2023 election.
He regretted that Nigeria is the number one country in Africa involved in open defecation according to the global Open Defecation index, while urging all and sundry to take advantage of the Executive Order 009 signed by president Buhari which seeks to end open defecation in Nigeria. He hinted that there’s high level of open defecation practice in Imo and poor waste disposal management.
The Program Manager of CFCF, Ohaka Chioma Delight called on the community members to always report poor citing of boreholes to the appropriate authority for sanctions. She said’ that the only way the State can be rid of water related diseases is for the relevant authorities to begin to wade into indiscriminate sinking of boreholes.