By Stanley Onyekwere
Minister of State, for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, yesterday inaugurated the FCT Sanitation Task Group, to serve as a coordinating platform for the implementation of a WASH programme, aimed at promoting hygiene in the Territory.
According to the minister, WASH services make a major difference particularly in health, education and socio economic development, as “they prevent diseases and save lives; 5000 children die every day due to infectious diarrhea, which is caused primarily by poor sanitation and hygiene.
She added that the impact of using basic sanitation, safe drinking water, and improved hygiene practices extends beyond the convenience of simply having facilities.
Represented at the occasion by the Senior Special Assistant on administration, Mrs. Jumai Kwanashie, the minister noted that the FCTis experiencing WASH challenges in communities, schools and in public places leading to health challenges and economic loss.
Akinjide, who described the present sanitary situation in the territory as unacceptable, however acknowledged that local communities in the territory still lack access to portable drinking water, safe sanitation and proper hygiene education.
“This group shall analyse and promote policies, programmes and projects that will specifically trigger the implementation of community and school-led total sanitation. We expect that this group will work with relevant stakeholders in the FCT, and nationally to ensure the achievement of Goal 7 of the Millennium Development Goals. (MDGs), that is, ensuring environmental sustainability,” she said.
The minister, however expressed the hope that advocacy can ameliorate this global crisis, noting that over 2.6 billion people lack access to basic latrine, and nearly 900 million people are thirsty daily because they lack access to safe drinking water.
The Sanitation Task Groupm, according to Akinjide is mandated to develop a standalone FCT Water Sanitation Policy and its implementation guidelines, raise awareness on water sanitation and hygiene, coordinate sanitation delivery at FCT level, monitor programme implementation and advocate for effective sanitation delivery in the FCT.
Responding, the chairman of the Task Group, Tpl. Tukur Bakori who is the Director of Satellite Towns Development Agency (STDA) pledged the group determination to deliver on the task ahead, promising that the group will swing into action.