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Many households in Nigeria do not have sufficient access to soap and water for handwashing, a survey by the National Bureau of Statistics has said.

Washing of hands with soap under running water for at least 20 seconds is a key part of preventing the spread of coronavirus.

However, in its National Longitudinal Phone Survey (NLPS) on the socio-economic effects of COVID-19 on Nigerian households conducted for June, the bureau said 24 per cent have insufficient soap and 7 per cent insufficient water for washing hands.

The survey is the second of a planned 12 series of the COVID-19 NLPS of households in Nigeria – 1,950 households – to monitor the economic impact of the pandemic and other shocks.

“Despite high awareness of safety measures, almost a quarter of respondents do not have sufficient soap to wash their hands.

“In the baseline, soap and cleaning supplies were the most commonly needed items, and most families confirmed that they were able to purchase soap when needed.

“In June however, nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of households did not have sufficient soap to wash their hands and about seven per cent of households also reported insufficient access to water for handwashing.

“Poorer households were more likely to have insufficient access to soap and water to wash their hands.”

In its analysis, the shortage of water for drinking and washing hands faced by households was primarily due either to a disruption in the supply or inability to access the source of water.

A breakdown shows 28.4 per cent of the household cannot afford water to wash their hand while 78.8 per cent cannot afford soap to wash their hands.

“However, a large share of households also reported that they could not afford to buy sufficient supplies of water (17 per cent for drinking water and 28 per cent for handwashing water).”

Way before the surge in coronavirus cases in Nigeria, access to water has been an issue in some areas. Some communities travel miles to get water and in most cases, they are left with contaminated water, either from a stream or river.

According to a report of the Joint Monitoring Programme of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) titled “Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2000-2017” one in three people globally do not have access to clean drinking water.

The survey indicates that 69 million Nigerians do not have access to safe water and 19 million have to walk long distances to get unsafe water from lakes, streams, and rivers.


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