Nigerian Journalists under the auspices of the Water and Sanitation Media Network and Non Governmental Organizations working in the water and sanitation sector in Nigeria organized under the platform of the Society for Water and Sanitation in Nigeria (NEWSAN) have formed a partnership to address the challenges of Nigeria’s water supply and sanitation sector.
At an event attended by representatives of the two bodies in Abuja, this Tuesday, the two bodies signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop and undertake collaborative activities, projects, campaign and advocacy programmes to promote Good Governance, Transparency, accountability, and mainstream the principles of equity and inclusion in the delivery of Water supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services in Nigeria.
The event took place with the support of WaterAid Nigeria, an International non government organisation focussed on increasing access of the World’s poor to WASH services.
Addressing participants, Water Aid in Nigeria’s Head of People and Organizational Development, Grace Ezigbo said that the event which also witnessed a media dialogue on the “Freedom of Information Law as a tool to promoting Transparency and Accountability in the WASH sector” is very timely and critical in pushing forward development in the sector.
“Information and access to information has real power in combating corruption, promoting transparency and energizing civil engagement. But having the information is only half the story – knowing what to do with the information is an entirely different and important aspect. Civil Society and the Media have a massive role to play in holding government accountable and promoting the principles of good governance for improved service delivery”, said Ezigbo.
Speaking in a similar vein, Leo Otakpu, NEWSAN Coordinator asked NGOs to consider how “we leverage the power of the media to influence not only how people, policy makers, politicians and governments thinks; but more importantly to help direct the policy choices and reforms critical for fostering development in the WASH sector”
“We in NEWSAN are today ready, more that ever to join media professionals to face up to address the challenges of better service delivery in the WASH sector. The marriage of NEWSAN and Media today, is therefore considered an important milestone in our collective quest to confront the many challenges facing the WASH sector in our beloved country”, said Otakpu who also doubles as the Chair of the African Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW).
Noting that Nigeria is not on track to meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on Water and Sanitation; that there is a breakdown of water supply and sanitation facilities across the country which limits access, particularly for the poor; and that there is a lack of public toilets in most Cities and Towns in Nigeria, a situation which has perpetuated Open Defecation Practices that leads to infectious diseases with worrying levels of under five and maternal child mortality rates, the workshop participants pledged to form a common front to hold government and other duty bearers accountable to the people.