A’Ibom: Ibom WASH+ Cluster Heightens Advocacy On Improved Hygiene, Open Defecation Free 



Findings  have shown that the problem of lack of sanitation and hygiene leads to stunted growth and weakened immune system that makes a child vulnerable to other diseases such as tuberculosis. 

Towards its mitigation, informed the recent training workshop organised by a cluster of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Akwa Ibom Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Policy Cluster for select group of journalists and media practitioners on WASH reporting in the state.

Held in Eket Local Government Area of the state, the overall objectives of the training workshop was to strengthen the capacity of journalists on WASH reportage in Akwa Ibom state and to enable journalists tell their stories in a compelling manner through innovative awareness-raising materials having educational, informative, behaviour changing and recreational contents around WASH in Akwa Ibom state.

The training, which was organised with funding support from the United State Agency for International Development (USAID) under SCALE (Strengthening Advocacy at Local Level) Project and Palladium, drew resource persons from the related fields. 

The Project Director, Ibom WASH Policy Cluster and CEO African Human Development Center, Prof Gabriel Umoh, said that the approval of the policies, monitoring and evaluation framework and increase/release funding would make work very easy for the state.

Umoh, who lauded the former governor of the state, Mr Udom Emmanuel, for signing into law the WASH Sector Bill in July 2022, said “there are some other important documents derived from this one to improve WASH sector, and they are the WASH Policy, WASH M&E frame work and the WASH project roadmap”

According to Prof. Umoh, who said that documents were awaiting the approval of the state executive council, called on the state government to approve policy documents

Umoh also stressed the need by Akwa Ibom state government domesticate the Executive Order 009 by President Muhammadu Buhari mandating all sectors in the country to be open defecation free by 2025.

He said, “Ibom WASH cluster+, came together to support Akwa Ibom state to reform WASH sector, as we all know WASH impacts on all facets of life including health, Education, Agriculture etc. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided the content for us to work to reform the WASH sector in Akwa Ibom state.

“So we started the practical implementation of the project in February 2002, our objective is to create awareness about the water and sanitation hygiene situation of Akwa Ibom state, push for development and approval of WASH policy framework by state executive council, and also to help develop and get the council to approve the WASH Monitoring and Evaluation because we can’t continue to work without accessing our selves to know if we are doing well on the nature of our intervention.”

While reaffirming their commitment to the improvement of the WASH sector of the state, Umoh assured, “we will ensure that the state has open defecation free road map”

He urged the journalists to drive the conversation on WASH related issues as well as intensify the advocacy through their reportage so as to achieve the goal to increasing funding and get approval for WASH policies in the state.

Our correspondent observed that during a group visit to places in Eket, residents around Esuene’s Beach were under threat of possible epidemic because of unhygienic environment and lack of portable water in the vicinity.

Those interviewed in the riverine community said they drink, defecate and bath inside the body of the water because of lack of better source of water, toilet facilities etc.

A fisherman, who identified himself as Umoh Edoho, said the entire community has no toilet facility even as the improvised mobile ones provided over years have been over used and vandalized.

Edoho however, appealed to the state government to come to their aid as their are suffering from incessant ailments like malaria and typhoid, cholera etc as a result of none evacuation of gutters and unclean unclean drinking water.

“I have lived here all my life and we drink water from the river with my family, we fish here, trade on logs and firewood, we take our bath here. 

“Our children who’s immune system are not so strong fall sick regularly. We really need help from government. We need portable source of water in the community and that may not be too expensive because the community is a small one”. Edoho lamented.

The group also noticed that the gutters were not dissilted in a long while and overgrown with weeds, which attract mosquitoes and give rise to malaria and typhoid.

Mrs. Mercy Godwin, mother of four children said that her children have been subjected to frequent malaria and typhoid attack due to blocked gutters, which has given rise to mosquito clusters.

They called on government and relevant agencies to intervene in other to prevent avoidable deaths.


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