Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Organization (ECHO) has donated 5,000 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) kits as well as 100 hand washing facilities to the Benue State government.
The WASH kits are to be distributed to the most vulnerable households among internally displaced persons (IDPs) while the hand washing facilities would be positioned in strategic spots in the nine IDP camps across the state.
Beneficiaries of these WASH kits are to include the poorest households, households with more than four children and those with large families as well as households with senior and aged members and those with at least one physically challenged person.
According to UNICEF’s WASH Manager, Enugu Field Office, Mamita Thakkar, the distribution of the WASH kits and the hand washing facilities in Benue’s IDP camps was part of the organization’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thakkar who was represented at the handing over ceremony in Makurdi on Tuesday by Mr. Toyin Adisa explained that the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene is essential to protecting human health during all infectious outbreaks including the COVID-19 outbreak.
“UNICEF in partnership with RUWASSA has been supporting WASH interventions in these IDP camps for the past few years. However, today, we are confronting probably one of the worst public health crisis in recent times, which is the COVID 19 pandemic.
She maintained that while countries are grappling with finding solutions ranging from prevention to treatment, WASH has continued to remain at the core of all prevention strategies related to COVID 19.
Thakkar added that the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene is essential to protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks, including the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Ensuring good WASH services in communities, homes, schools, marketplaces and health care facilities helps to prevent human-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 virus. And in emergency settings like IDP camps, with poor living conditions and service delivery, the likelihood of transmission and infection is even higher. The camps present some significant criticalities especially when it comes to overcrowding, shelter, water availability and sanitation situation.
While positing that functionality and
adequacy of WASH facilities remain one of the major causes of concern, Thakkar expressed the optimism that the purpose of the supplies which is to ensure that communities in these IDP camps tide over the immediate need for enhanced WASH materials, as well as regular hand washing culture are quickly internalized.
“Never before has there been a greater emphasis on washing hands with soap, as a public health measure. We hope that when facilities and systems are available, and when the practice is repeated over time, the habit will stick. I hope that these handwashing facilities will catalyse this long term behaviour in the communities.
The Enugu UNICEF boss also commended ECHO for the supply of the 100 foot operated handwashing facilities.
Receiving the items on behalf of the state government, Deputy Governor and Chairman of the State Action Committee on COVID-19, Engr. Benson Abounu thanked UNICEF and it’s donor partners for always coming to the aid of the state at very critical times.
Abounu also called on other international partners, donors, NGOs, corporate organizations and spirited individuals to emulate UNICEF’s gesture of responding to the needs of the displaced in order to ameliorate their sufferings.
On her part, First Lady of the State, Mrs. Eunice Ortom who wqs represented by the Commissioner of Information, Orientation and Culture, Mrs. Ngunan Adinggi said the distribution would go a long way in ensuring the very fundamental but critical measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus especially in IDP camps in the state.
General Manager, Benue State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (BERWASSA), Mrs. Torkwase Ikyaator disclosed that the Agency received from UNICEF 5,000 each of buckets, Jerry cans, kettles, cups as well 2,000 bar soap, 100 touch-less hand washing stations, liquid soap and aqua tablets for purifying water.