By Bashir Hassan Abubakar
WaterAid Nigeria has lamented the inadequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in Bauchi State, saying that according to the national 2019 WASH NORM statistics, about 2.5 million people in Bauchi State do not have access to basic water supply services.
Also, about 3.9 million people, which translates to 59% of the state’s population, do not have access to basic sanitation Services, around 650,000 practice open defecation and 99% of the state’s population, about 6.5 million people, lack hand-washing facilities with soap.
The statistics was given by the Country Director of WaterAid Nigeria, Dr Evelyn Mere during the launching of a new 5 years project, Strengthening Water and Sanitation Delivery Project in Bauchi .
Evelyn Mere lamented that, “This deficit in access to water, sanitation and hygiene services disproportionately affects women, girls, and other vulnerable groups such as persons living with disabilities. The drudgery of regular long searches for water and a safe place to go to toilet has an adverse effect on education, health, gender equality, productivity levels and economic development”.
Represented by Programme, Monitoring and Evaluation Reporting Officer, Bauchi Office, Mashat Mallo, She further lamented that, “Often, many have no choice than to risk danger, ill health and compromise their dignity defecating in the open and fetching water from unclean and unprotected sources”.
“According to her, “a lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene has detrimental effects on the health, education, and economic wellbeing of the population. It makes it difficult for households and communities to practice proper Handwashing which is critical to controlling he spread of infectious and deadly diseases, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
The WaterAid Nigeria Country Director further said that, the project funded by Latte Day Saints Charities Project will combine a mix of service delivery interventions with institutional strengthening for improved and sustainable delivery of WASH services to address acute water and sanitation needs for vulnerable populations in both states where they are Implementing.
She explained that In Bauchi State, WaterAid will construct new water points and hygienic public sanitation facilities; deliver hygiene education to encourage improved hygiene behaviours and control the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19; facilitate consultations to support a timely approval of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Bill currently under consideration by the State House of Assembly; and rehabilitate dysfunctional water points and public sanitation facilities to address the critical demands for clean water and improved sanitation for vulnerable populations in the state.
“We will realize the project’s objectives through a blend of innovative approaches including service delivery interventions, government systems strengthening, and hygiene ber change approaches, which will be adopted to increase and sustain access to water sanitation, and hygiene”, She assured.
WaterAid according to her will apply its quality programme standard approach and consolidate successes from previous milestones in past implemented projects in the need to reinforce long term impacts in the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector.
She added that WaterAid’s Sustainability Framework underscores the dependence of long-term sustainability on local level engagement and capacity, “As such, management and ownership arrangements will be put in place and/or strengthened to ensure project infrastructure will be sustainably managed”.
WaterAid Nigeria then commended the Bauchi State government for the strides they are taking to improve delivery of water, sanitation, and hygiene services in the state, Of note is the recent increase in budgetary allocation to the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector.
“We encourage the state to accelerate the momentum to build and strengthen institution structures and frameworks that will help create sustainable change in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector”, she said.
Evelyn Mere stressed that Making clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation is a daunting task, but one that can be achieved in partnership with governments, development partners, civil society organisations, academia, the media and the citizens who are willing to push for equitable access to their basic human rights declaring that, “together, we can and much deliver on the promise of clean water and sanitation for one community at a time”.
While launching the project, General Manager/Permanent Secretary of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), Engineer, Garba Babaji Magaji commended WaterAid Nigeria for the various interventions in the state in the past 16 years saying that the interventions have helped to improve WASH issues in the state.
The GM/PS of RUWASSA stressed that apart from UNICEF, WaterAid Nigeria is the next partner that has made positive impact in the various communities in the state saying that all the interventions by WaterAid are significant and timely.
Garba Magaji then assured that RUWASSA will support WaterAid Nigeria for the success of the implementation of the programme in the state stressing that when implemented the project will reduce water, sanitation and hygiene infections in the area of the project.