The Lagos State Government has advised secondary school students to come up with innovations to address water, sanitation and hygiene issues.
The Managing Director, Lagos Water Corporation (LWC), Mr Muminu Badmus, made the call on Wednesday at the Grand Finale and Maiden Annual Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Essay Competition.
The event, which was part of activities to mark World Water Day, was organised by the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers (NIMechE) in collaboration with LWC and held at Victoria Island.
It had over 80 schools and representatives from six education districts in Lagos in attendance.
Badmus commended participants in the essay competition, saying the students must go beyond classroom knowledge to providing solutions.
The managing director said analytical skills would help the students to become game changers and pledged continuous support for the essay competition.
He urged secondary school students to keep participating in the competition to boost their knowledge, exposure and get important research skills to become solution providers.
Badmus cited example of Ansar-udeen Grammar School, ‘ADGS’ Surulere which invented a water Filtration and Purification system a few years ago, which won them the Nigerian Stockholm Junior Water Prize.
He said that the winners went on to represent Nigeria later that year in Sweden and were commended for their innovation.
“By asking the right questions, you can develop analytical skills and Investigate effects by digging deep into their causes.
“When you know the cause of a problem, the solution would easily fall on our laps,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Miss Chioma Joseph, SS2 student of Keke Senior High School, Ifako Ijaye, clinched the overall best position in the senior category.
Vetland Senior Grammar School’s Olaoluwa Olaniyn came second while Oyewole Egunjobi of Ayangburen Senior High School and Josephine Hunpe of Lagos State Senior Model College, Kankon Badagry both came third place.
In the Junior Secondary category, Miss Chisom Ezeanya, Lagos State Junior Model College Ojo came first; Esther Ajileye, Eva Adelaja Junior Girls Secondary School came second while Blessing Nwabueze of District Junior College Agege, came third.
NAN reports that winners were given laptops and other educational gift items while some schools also received cash donations.
The National Chairman, NIMechE, Dr Funmilade Akingbagbohun, said over 80 schools from six education districts participated in the essay writing on topics related to water, sanitation and hygiene.
Akingbagbohun said the competition was organised to address a lacuna in the space of water sanitation and hygiene in Nigeria and engineering is about problem solving.
She thanked the Lagos State Water Corporation for supporting the programme, and commended all the six education districts that participated.
The chairman said 20 out of 80 schools qualified for the grand finale, with seven emerging as winners.
She said all hands must be on deck for effective collaboration towards achieving a clean environment.
The Chairman said everyone had a role to play in ensuring improved water and sanitation facilities, to promote hand washing and prevent diseases.
Akingbagbohun said that every aspect of life required water.
She said the use of polluted drinking water and poor sanitary conditions in Nigeria had increased water-borne diseases including diarrhea and cholera.
The chairman gave statistics on the consequences of poor sanitation and water and the need to target the youth as game changers to provide solutions.
The guest speaker, Ms Cherish Jefferson, said the problems of water required multi-sectoral solution because its impact affected every sector and segment of life.
Jefferson, a 500 level student of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Lagos, called for collective action, saying SDG 6 was the most important which must be pursued to solve societal problems.
She said SDG 6 stated that everyone should have safely managed water, good hygiene and sanitation and focused on ending open defecation by 2030.
Jefferson called for deliberate efforts towards conserving water to mitigate the impact of climate change.
“Simple action like turning off a tap is important,” she said.
She also called for recycling of water, volunteering to support community-led initiatives for change and increased awareness campaigns.
Dr Adetola Salau, Senior Special Assistant to Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on STEM Education said 1,000 children die daily from bad water, sanitation and hygiene, hence the need for creative ways for water conservation.
Salau promised to join the Lagos Water Corporation in the partnership, while urging the students to create prototypes on ideas they have toward solving problems in their communities.
She enumerated various aspects of engineering the students could explore while reeling out examples of teenagers providing solutions in some countries.
Other speakers, including the representative of the United Nations and the Commissioner for the Environment, explained measures and solutions being provided for flooding, and how STEM education was aiding creativity.
They enumerated challenges of COVID-19, hand washing, scarcity of drinking water, poor sanitation, among others.(NAN)