The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) N4.1 billion ($10 million) over three years to improve Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) services in Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara States, north-west Nigeria.
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.
Mission Director, Dr. Anne Patterson, who disclosed this in a press statement, made available to LEADERSHIP, said the funds will help the Nigerian government’s initiative on WASH by providing lifesaving WASH services to more than 300,000 people in need of assistance.
Patterson said USAID is dedicated to ensuring clean water for more Nigerians, and this new activity with UNICEF will help reduce waterborne diseases to keep more people, especially children, healthy.
In Nigeria, Sokoto and Kebbi States have the lowest levels of access to basic water services at 38 percent and 39 percent, respectively. Access to basic sanitation is also low in Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto States, at 35 per cent, 38 percent, and 41 per cent, respectively. Only five percent of people in Sokoto and one percent 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, says UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins.
Hawkins said, “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.
“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. I commend USAID’s commitment to the children and people of Nigeria.”