**As 44% of Nigerians Have Access to Basic Sanitation Services By Modupe Gbadeyanka A report released on Tuesday by the federal government has revealed that 44 per cent of the population in Nigeria now have access to basic sanitation services in 2019. The survey, conducted in conjunction with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), UNICEF and the African Development Bank (AfDB), showed that this was an improvement from the 42 per cent recorded in 2018. However, UNICEF has advised Nigeria to make urgent investments in basic sanitation and this should include a partnership with the private sector, communities and young people. UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, said that \u201cthe results from this survey underline the urgent need to increase investments in sustaining and expanding access to hygiene, water and sanitation if Nigeria is to contain the spread of the coronavirus and other deadly diseases,\u201d noting that the results also provide policymakers with a critical roadmap on exactly where to put the nation\u2019s resources. At an event held in Abuja, the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, unveiled the 2019 WASH NORM II Report, which was borne out of the need for comprehensive data on water supply, sanitation and hygiene for effective monitoring the progress the country is making towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets 6.1 and 6.2. It was discovered that access to basic water supply services has steadily increased from 68 per cent in 2018 to 70 per cent in 2019, while about a third of all schools (33 per cent) have basic water supply services, with only 26 per cent of schools provide access to basic sanitation services, amongst others. In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister said that gaps in handwashing should immediately be seen as a major public health issue. To this end, stronger high-level commitments with policy initiatives based on evidence-informed interventions to close the gaps in access to WASH services are needed. Some key policy initiatives have already been enacted at the national level, including the Partnership for Expanded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) programme, Open Defecation Free (ODF) roadmap with Clean Nigeria, Use Toilet Campaign and National Action Plan for Revitalization of the WASH sector. He, therefore, called on state and local governments to beef up efforts in domesticating national programmes with strong commitments backed by adequate budgets for rapid turnaround in the sector. The Minister, thereafter, said Nigeria is clearly in the right direction due to the opportunity presented by the NORM survey in tracking WASH critical indicators. In order to ensure real-time and seamless flow of WASH data, the innovative NORM dashboard and NORM Intervention Profiling Tool are now available at www.washims.gov.ng with associated factsheet that clearly captures the WASH situation at subnational levels. He expressed his optimism that this is a legacy that he hoped would be bequeathed to the new generation of WASH Implementers at all levels and tiers of government.