The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Nigeria and its implementing partner, the Green Habitat Initiative (GHI) have launched a project for improved sustainability of integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services in Nigeria.
Speaking at the project launch today (July 15) in Abuja, the GHI president, Engr. Sadiq Gulma, said the project being executed in Sokoto and Kebbi states, as the pilot phase, was motivated by the appalling statistics of poor WASH services in the states which are among the least in the country and unfortunately, in West Africa too.
According to him, a large presence of unprotected water sources, poor sanitary and hygiene conditions have increased vulnerability to water borne diseases affecting all especially children, and thus scaling up morbidity and mortality.
“Over the past 15 months, we have interfaced with SSG, KBSG and especially with the USAID to design a program aimed at reducing water borne diseases and associated socio-economic challenges through an integrated, participatory and innovative approach that focuses on improving reliable and inclusive access to WASH services in health centres, schools and unserved as well as underserved communities of Sokoto and Kebbi states,
“Despite the restrictions on physical gatherings and lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, our team and colleagues from USAID, both in Nigeria and Washington DC, continued to work remotely on the development of this program. Indeed, the need for improved access to WASH services becomes more relevant to ensure resiliency against COVID-19 increases for the targeted beneficiaries,” he said.
He added the program aimed to reach about 32,000 beneficiaries made up of indigent populations, school students, patients and workers at health centres and sector professionals spread in both states in the next two years.
In her remarks, the USAID Nigeria development and outreach communications specialist, Amarachi Obinna-Nnadi identified poor access to WASH services as the second major risk factor leading to death and disability in Nigeria and, contributing to at least 70,000 deaths a year among children under five-year-old according to the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
She, however, said Nigeria government was already making progress towards enhanced rural WASH services in the region, adding the organization was at the launch because of the commitment shown by the government, and likewise the governments of Kebbi and Sokoto states to improve rural water infrastructure in the north-west.
“It is our shared expectation that this activity will improve the provision of WASH services at the community level and contribute to improved health outcomes. It is also our expectation that integrated programs across WASH sectors can serve as a platform for improving linkages between the community and WASH service providers to increase access to water and sanitation. And expand watershed protection and restoration to improve water quality and quantity and reduce vulnerability to water-related risks and stresses.
“i-Wash implemented by our partner, Green Habitat Initiative, will lead the intervention to provide sustainable and equitable access to safety managed WASH services to vulnerable populations in rural Kebbi and Sokoto to reduce contamination, a key driver of water borne diseases,” she added.
In his remarks, the Sokoto State Commissioner for Water Resources, Hon. Umar Bature, said the project meant a lot to the state in terms of improvement and management of water facilities together with WASH facilities in terms of sanitation and hygiene.
He explained it as a project the state was working on with other development partners to realize its objectives and expressed appreciation to USAID and GHI for including Sokoto in the programme.
Similarly, the Kebbi State Commissioner for Water Resources and Rural Development, Hon. Nuraddeen Kangiwa, said the project had the capacity of providing sustainability in improving water to its communities.
“This project is very important to us because one of our challenges is the maintenance and sustenance of these facilities. So, for this kind of programme, I am sure the problem will be tackled,” he added.