Nigeria takes the lead globally in open defecation and has also been ranked the poorest in terms of provision of potable water supply to its citizens.
The Managing Director of Taraba Water and Sewage Corporation (TAWASCO), Mr. Buba Siam said this on Tuesday at a Knowledge Cafe (Mu-Gana) quarterly meeting between TAWASCO, E-WASH and CSOs involved in the E-WASH projects in Taraba.
Siam said that in spite of efforts by the corporation to ensure adequate water supply to residents in the state, lack of adequate funding had continued to militate against achieving the objective.
He said while India which was the leader in open defecation had lost the position in 2019, “Nigeria today is now number one in the world’’.
“That was why President Muhammadu Buhari declared operation ‘Clean Nigeria’, Use the Toilet’ in December 2019 with the view of reversing the negative trend in open defecation.
“Taraba state government in partnership with FECAL Sludge is to establish a treatment plant in Jalingo to collect and treat human faeces from individual homes to a central treatment facility.
“This programme is being supported by USAID E-WASH,” Siam explained. He expressed regret that in spite of abundant water resources, Nigerians still did not have potable water on their tables due largely to the government’s lean resources and lack of political will.
“In Taraba state, despite our conscious efforts, we have not been able to meet the water demands of our customers. Water supply and sanitation are capital intensive and without adequate funding, there is little the utility companies can do,” Siam said.
Some of the civil society organisations who spoke at the meeting said that there were still a lot of households even within the state capital that were not yet connected to the water supply channels.
They noted sadly that the preference to open defecation by most people, especially in the rural areas was due to lack of toilet facilities at some public places.
They, however, observed that with the intervention of USAID E-WASH, the water, sanitation and hygiene sector might drastically improve the situation.