Towards enhanced  access to clean water through private sector interventions

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Towards enhanced  access to clean water through private sector interventions

By Abiemwense Moru, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Access to safe water is the most basic human need for health and well-being, according to the United Nations (UN).

It says billions of people will lack access to this basic service in 2030 unless progress quadruples.

The World Bank estimates that 70 million Nigerians lack access to safe drinking water.

It also says that no fewer than 70, 000 deaths are recorded annually in the country among children under the age of five from diarrhea-related diseases.

Demand for water is rising owing to rapid population growth; urbanisation and increasing water needs from agriculture, industry and energy sectors.

The demand for water has outpaced population growth and half of the world’s population is already experiencing severe water scarcity at least one month a year.

Water scarcity, according to UN, is projected to increase with the rise of global temperatures as a result of climate change

According to WaterAid, an international NGO, the private sector is increasingly acknowledged as an important development partner in the water and sanitation sector.

It says although there were some reservations about the ability of the private sector to meet the needs of the poorest citizens.

WaterAid says it is contributing its quota towards meeting the clean water needs of rural community dwellers.

Recently 10, 000 residents from four communities in Bwari Area Council of the FCT, had access to clean water through the NGO and its partner’s water intervention projects.

Mr Williams Kolo, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Coordinator, Bwari Area Council, said this during a WaterAid Project Closed- Out meeting for a 14 months intervention project.

The meeting, tagged: Strengthening Water and Sanitation Delivery Project in Bwari Area Council, was organised by WaterAid Nigeria in collaboration with the FCT Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA).

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Other partners in the project included Bwari Area Council and was funded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Kolo, while presenting an overview of achieved outcomes of the project, said 10, 000 residents now have access to clean water, WASH management skills and sanitation promotion messages.

“10, 000 people gained access to clean water, 647 people gained access to safely manage sanitation facilities, 3,500 people, including women and children, were reached with sanitation promotion messages.

“The organisation constructed and rehabilitated 10, 000 litres and 20, 000 litres capacity solar/electric powered water boreholes in four communities and one school, including water kiosks.

“Also, 115 members, comprising 67 males and 48 females of WASH management structures and hygiene promoters were trained across the four beneficiary communities.

“It is also notable that these water points have been certified to have zero coliform level in the five water facilities procured in the four communities and school”, Kolo said.

The beneficiary communities, he listed, were Baran-goni, Zuma II, Sabon-Gari, Dakwa and LEA primary school, Tudun-fulani.

Kolo further said that in order to sustain and replicate the intervention, an investment plan had been mapped out by the partners, to help the council construct more of the infrastructure in other communities.

This, he also said, was to ensure other communities in the council gain access to clean water, while assuring that the WASH unit would help ensure funds for such projects were included in the council’s subsequent budget.

Speaking on the progress of the project, Mr Nanpet Chuktu, Head of Programmes, WaterAid Nigeria, said the 14 month project was aimed to strengthen WASH delivery in selected communities in the council.

This, he further said, was designed to complement the efforts of the government in addressing access to WASH services, while improving hygiene behaviours and outcomes among the target population.

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The project, he added, focused on increasing access to WASH services by constructing and rehabilitating water facilities in the selected communities and providing gender-inclusive public sanitation facilities and participation.

He said: ” Today’s meeting with partners and WASH committee representatives is to close out a one year mini project we currently have in the council.

“It is to show accountability and say we started this last year, this is what we promised and this is what we delivered.

“Bwari Area Council is still a work in progress, the council and RUWASSA are the key institutions we are supporting, and therefore, we are still on ground with similar projects.

“This is to first demonstrate a model they can use to improve the status of WASH in the communities and at the same time charge the government to use the models to grow.

“We would like to see that by the next budget cycle, the council has dedicated funding for similar projects in other communities and not just rely on donor organisations.”

He also appraised the council’s inclusion of 40 per cent women to the WASH committee, while adding that their active participation was impressive.

One of the committee members, Mrs Safiya Rafiu from the Baran-goni community, appreciated the effort by the partners while praying for God’s blessings on all who strived to put smiles on the faces of the people.

She said that the initiative had not only improved sanitation in her community but had helped the WASH committee sell water at subsidised rate to residents in an effort to maintain and sustain the facility.

Mr Peter Saidu, a resident of Zuma II and a WASH committee member in the area, appreciated the initiative, while saying that it was a dream come through for his community.

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According to him, the Zuma II community had always had challenges with accessing clean water but the intervention has made it possible to have 24 hours water supply.

He thanked all partners and donors for the knowledge impact on sanitation and hygiene, while promising to keep the flag flying in the community.

WaterAid Nigeria, alongside its partners, also formed and trained WASH committee members from each of the communities, to promote and enhance sanitation and hygiene practices in the areas.

Deepening the public-private partnership in the water sector is key to achieving the SDG No.6, according to The Organised Private Sector in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (OPS-WASH), a global coordinating body for private sector engagement in SDG 6.

This informed its partnership with the Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (AWEN) and other stakeholders to create sustainable interventions across the six geopolitical zones of the country, says OPS-WASH National Coordinator, Dr Nicolas Igwe.

While the private sector is contributing its quota, the Federal Government said it will ensure that the water gap in the country was addressed.

Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, gave reassurance when the National Water Sanitation and Hygiene Network paid her an advocacy visit in Abuja.

“The major problem in the IDP camps is the issue of WASH, but we have some groups and agencies under the ministry working towards addressing these issues.

“We also build a friendly environment where the issue of wash is taken to the highest level in the country”, the minister said.

For the private sector to contribute more effectively to addressing the nation’s clean water challenges, governments at all levels should provide them with the enabling environment,  regulations and logistics support.  (NANFeatures)

**If used please credit the writer and News Agency of Nigeria. 

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