From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded UNICEF the sum of $9,978,800 (equivalent to N4.1 billion) over three years to improve Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) services in Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara States.
Communication Specialist, UNICEF Field Office, Kano, Samuel Kalu, in a statement made available to media in Kaduna on Wednesday, indicated that the funds would provide lifesaving WASH services to more than 300,000 people in need of assistance in the benefiting states.
The statement noted that the USAID assistance would help to build community-centered approaches to deliver, operate, and manage sustainable WASH services in rural areas, and foster resilience in communities, in collaboration with the state governments, adding that ‘it will also help rebuild dilapidated infrastructure and support community efforts to increase access to proper sanitation, adopt good hygiene practices, and improve water quality.’
The statement quoted USAID Mission Director, Dr Anne Patterson, as saying: ‘USAID is dedicated to ensuring clean water for more Nigerians. This new activity with UNICEF will help reduce waterborne diseases to keep more people, especially children, healthy.’
The statement read in part:
‘According to the 2019 National Outcome Routine Mapping of WASH services (WASHNORM), 30 per cent of Nigerians lack access to basic water services and less than 10 per cent have access to safely managed water services while 44 per cent of Nigerians have access to basic sanitation services, 23 per cent, or 46 million people, lack access to proper sanitation. Access to safe hygiene facilities nationwide is low, at 16 per cent.
‘In Nigeria, Sokoto and Kebbi States have the lowest levels of access to basic water services at 38 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively.
‘Access to basic sanitation is also low in Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto States, at 35 per cent, 38 per cent, and 41 per cent, respectively.
‘Only five per cent of people in Sokoto and one per cent in Kebbi have access to safely managed water services.
‘This severe shortage of clean water supply, toilets, and handwashing facilities in households across Nigeria presents a formidable challenge.
‘Poor access to WASH services is the major cause of diarrheal morbidity and mortality in Nigeria and is associated with at least 70,000 deaths in children under five each year.
‘Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic have also reinforced the importance of adequate and safe water, basic sanitation, and proper hygiene practices to stem the spread of the disease, including in Nigeria.
‘The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with prevailing challenges and gaps in WASH services in North-West Nigeria is detrimental to the development of children and rural communities.
‘This assistance is a testament to USAID’s commitment to the children and people of Nigeria”, the statement quoted UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins.