Women leader of Ibedu, Adiaha Douglass Ekot, said prior to the intervention by EU, UNICEF and the State, the community was noted for open defecation.
Joe Effiong, Uyo
Life in Ibedu community in Nsit Atai Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State can never be the same again. This is because with the assistance of the European Union (EU), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the state government, the community has finally banished the culture of open defecation, which, according to locals, used to be their only mode of toileting. Women are particularly elated, as the open defecation with its attendant risks, would henceforth be history following the provision of water scheme projects by donor agencies.
Women leader of Ibedu, Obonganwan Adiaha Douglass Ekot, said prior to the intervention by EU, UNICEF and the State government under the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), the community was noted for open defecation.
Ekot said as a woman, the project was dear to her heart especially as the female folks have particularly benefited from the sanitation projects. She said the gesture has improved the people’s sanitation values and hygiene in the community.
“I thank UNICEF and the government for bringing this project to our community. I am very happy because our female children are now neat. They do no longer defecate anywhere as they used to do in the past.
“Because of the training UNICEF gave to us about personal hygiene, we now know how and where to take care of ourselves in order to stay clean and avoid contracting infections,” she said.
The WASH committee secretary, Mr. Ekong James Akpan, said the consciousness of the people have been altered as it concerns hygiene and sanitation issues.
Akpan who demonstrated the foot operated hand washing facility made with local devices, said the WASH initiative had extracted creative abilities to improve sanitation and hygiene through a combination of local and modern devices.
“They have come to throw limelight on how to comport ourselves in terms of sanitation. They trained us on how to construct this local hand washing device. This device is called Tipi Tap foot operated hand washing facility. It is used after toileting. So you open it, pour some water, cover it and keep it ready for use. Once you finish using the toilet, you have to wash your hand by pressing this stick to the ground and water will run out from the tank,” Ekong said as he demonstrated it.
On the water scheme, the deputy village head, Chief Sunday Tom Mkpene, talked with satisfaction on the provision of 24,000-litre reticulated solar powered borehole installed in strategic points in the community. According to him, the project has given the entire community a new lease of life.
“Before UNICEF and the state government came to set up this project, life used to be very difficult in this community. We used to trek long distance before we could get to the stream. I thank the EU, UNICEF and the state for changing our story. They have made our lives beautiful and enjoyable.
“Even in our community primary school, there used to be no toilet not to talk of pipe borne water but today, QIC Primary School, Ibedu, has been provided with sanitation facilities for our children.
The village head of Ibedu, Etebom Douglas Ekot thanked the state government for contributing its counterpart fund to UNICEF; the local government and the WASH coordinators for their efforts.
“I pray to God to bless each and everyone who has contributed to these projects.
“I thank UNICEF in particular for being so organised to put up these projects irrespective of the fact that they do not know anybody in this village,” he said.
The 24,000-litre reticulated solar powered borehole and sanitation projects, designed to serve 1,484 people, was provided by the state government in partnership with EU/UNICEF under the WASH programme.
The sanitation projects comprise two units of five compartment, four flush latrine, one unit for boys and one unit for girls at the QIC Primary School Ibedu, according to Imo Thomas Willie, the WASH coordinator for Nsit Atai Local Government Area. Acting General Manager of Akwa Ibom Rural Water and Sanitation (AKRUWATSAN), Mr. Idongesit Ido, while addressing the press at the inauguration of WASH Media Network, said the past three years had not only been challenging, but also fruitfully challenging.
“With the help of relevant stakeholders, we made remarkable milestones in water schemes, provision of sanitation facilities, baseline surveys, anti-open defecation awareness campaigns and sundry WASH programmes.
“Please permit me to blow our trumpet in the two pilot local government areas of Nsit Atai and Obot Akara, we have awarded contracts for 54 solar powered mini water schemes, 46 of the water schemes and 32 of sanitation facilities sited in schools, health centres and public places like motor parks and markets, have been completed. These have improved the lives of our women and children in terms of access to improved water and sanitation services,” Ido said.