The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has received a donation of approximately $10 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in support of Nigerian government’s initiative to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.
The support is for the next three years WASH services in three North-west states of Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara.
A statement by UNICEF on Wednesday said: “The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded UNICEF $9,978,800 over three years to support the Nigerian government’s initiative to improve water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara States in nNorth-west Nigeria.”
It said that the funds will provide lifesaving WASH services to more than 300,000 people in need of assistance.
It revealed that USAID’s assistance will help to build community-centred approaches to deliver, operate and manage sustainable WASH services in rural areas, and will foster resilience in communities, in collaboration with the state governments.
It added that this 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 Nigeria Mission Director, Dr. Anne Patterson, to have said: “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 recalled that the 2019 National Outcome Routine Mapping of WASH services (WASHNORM) had revealed that 30 per cent of Nigerians lack access to basic water services and less than 10 per cent have access to safely managed water services.
It also revealed that 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.
It lamented that in the country, Sokoto and Kebbi States have the lowest levels of access to basic water services at 38 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively, with access to basic sanitation also low in Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto States, at 35 per cent, 38 per cent, and 41 per cent, respectively.
It frowned on the fact that only five per cent of people in Sokoto and one per cent in Kebbi have access to safely managed water services.
The statement said the severe shortage of clean water supply, toilets, and hand washing 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.
It said 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 worldwide including Nigeria.
The UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, was quoted in the statement to have said: “We are extremely grateful for the timely and much-needed WASH support from the United States Government. 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.”