– Human Rights Campaigners call for speedy passage of Enugu State Water Bill
Faced with an unprecedented pandemic, the world has come to realize that we are all interconnected and the idea of the world as a global village is further reinforced.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that a society is only as healthy as its most vulnerable member. Handwashing has been widely recognized as one of the cheapest way to prevent the spread of the virus.
However, for millions of people, globally, the practice of hand washing is still a luxury, as they don’t have access to running water.
Access to safe water to maintain good hygiene is no longer a luxury to be accessed by only the privileged.
Simply because, even if you have access to water and practice regular hand washing, you are still faced with a high risk infection from your neighbour without access.
Considering that the pandemic is WASH-centric, leaders across the globe, are focused on wash-centered solutions.
This has put WASH at the front-burner to be prioritized in all COVID-19 interventions as the gaps in WASH services in most countries have been exposed by the pandemic.
In Nigeria, where the states are primarily responsible for providing water to citizens, most state governments have seen the need to prioritize water supply interventions.
Prior to the pandemic, Enugu state known for its perennial water scarcity, were on track to revitalizing the water sector, with the state government declaring a state of emergency in the states WASH sector, further showing her commitment to breaking the water poverty jinx in the state.
The cost of living for many household has increased tremendously because of the cost of getting safe water.
With the outbreak of the pandemic, you would expect that planned interventions in the sector would be fast-racked, however, it doesn’t seem to be so.
As part of the revitalization of the sector, a water sector policy was drafted with collaboration from key stakeholders.
However, this water policy aimed at improving water supply services in the state is yet to see the light of day. The document, which has been with the state house of Assembly prior to the outbreak of the Corona virus disease, is still with the House, as at the time of this report.
Disturbed by this delay in passing the bill into law, the ‘Claim Your Water Rights’ team in Enugu, led by Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation, engaged the House Committee Chair on water, Mrs Ethel Ugwuanyi to understand the issues hindering the swift passage of the bill.
Responding to the team, the Chair stated that the visit was timely as the House of Assembly have just recently deliberated on the bill and are in the process of recruiting a professional to scrutinize the bill for any amendments before it’s been passed.
She assured the team that the bill will be passed within the next two months.
During the engagement, the team expressed the need for an urgent passage of the Bill. They further explained that the bill will not only tackle the problem of water scarcity in Enugu but also addresses the quality of portable water supplied for consumption by residents of Enugu.
At the moment, there is no agency or body in charge of regulating activities of water suppliers or vendors in the state. The quality of water supplied for consumption is not checked and people are daily faced with increased risk of death from water-related diseases, such as typhoid, diarrhoea and cholera.
The bill has made provision for a regulatory body to curtail such practices and protect the health of residents. On the other hand, the bill explicitly recognized access to clean drinking water as a fundamental human right, thus providing a legal backing for residents to engage water suppliers, who poison them and their children when they supply unwholesome water.