By Tosin Kolade
WaterAid Nigeria has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Water Resources Institute (NWRI) Kaduna, to build stakeholders’ capacity to scale up sanitation and hygiene in the country.
Speaking at the ceremony in Abuja, WaterAid Country Director, Ms Evelyn Mere, said a multi-sectoral approach was needed to bridge the knowledge and capacity gaps for improved sanitation in Nigeria.
Mere noted that the partnership, through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, was to provide technical assistance and capacity strengthening to stimulate sector actors towards achieving the longer term goals of the National Action Plan.
According to her, the country’s Plan is to ensure universal access to sustainable and safely managed Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services for everyone in Nigerian by 2030, through institutionalising the enabling environment required to support the effective and sustainable management of the country’s WASH services.
“That commitment has influenced and informed our strategy and approach in working with the Federal Government and it has led us here at this moment.
“In spite of slight progress nationally, Nigeria ranks first among countries globally with the highest population of people defecating in the open.
“We still have 112 million without access to basic sanitation, this abysmal state of sanitation has adverse effects on health, livelihoods, education, gender equality and socioeconomic development”, she said.
Mere added that the partnership with the NWRI would combine WASH expertise to bridging knowledge and capacity gaps for the delivery of equitable sustainable total sanitation at scale in Nigeria.
She said under the partnership, modules would be developed on a ‘Rethinking Rural Sanitation’ approach to guide policy makers, planners and implementers on rural sanitation programming.
The country director expressed optimism that through the provision of technical assistance and capacity building of frontline agencies, the partnership would contribute to delivering the sanitation pillar of the National Action Plan and meeting the SDGs by 2030.
Prof. Emmanuel Adanu, Director General, NWRI, said the MoU was to give legal backing to the partnership, which would seek to improve and systematically support sector capacity building for sanitation programme development in Nigeria.
Adanu said the institute had commenced the formulation of a curriculum on Sanitation for all institutions in Nigeria, which had been submitted to the universities.
He said the institute was committed to seeing that total sanitation was achieved at scale, adding that with the involvement of the institutions the target would be achieved.
In his remarks, the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, said the partnership had significance in tackling the root causes of poor sanitation in the country.
Adamu said the challenges of poor sanitation had gone beyond teaching students just the basics, but the idea of capacity building for rural sanitation was very important and timely.
“Every effort to improve sanitation in this country is welcomed, fundamentally, this is something different, we have been doing advocacy, we have been building toilets and boreholes etc.
“For the first time, we are having instructions tailored to this particular problem, hopefully, it will get us out of this challenge, in accordance with the sustainable development goals”, he said.
While commending WaterAid Nigeria’s efforts at scaling up WASH services in the country, Adamu said the Nigerian Government had shown the highest political will towards changing the narrative on poor sanitation.
This, the minister noted, was re-emphasised with the development of the National WASH Action Plan, the implementation of the ‘Clean Nigeria, Use the Toilet’ Campaign and Executive Order 009 to end Open Defecation.
He said that the World Bank had committed $700 million grant for Nigeria’s Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene (SURWASH) programme in six states, expressing the hope that impact would be achieved in the country. (NAN)