By: ALEX UANGBAOJE
Nigeria – Over three hundred and fifty four, 354 communities in three Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Chikun, Kubau and Kachia in Kaduna State has so far benefited from the Sanitation, Water and Hygiene in Nigeria, otherwise known as SHAWN II, a project funded by Department for International Development, DfID, a United Kingdom government department responsible for administering overseas aid, and United Nations Children’s Fund,UNICEF, with counterpart funding from the Kaduna State Government.
And an estimated population of two hundred and sixty two thousand six hundred and eleven, 262, 611 are currently enjoying free access to improved water supply through over three hundred and twenty five, 325 newly constructed and two hundred and forty four , 244 rehabilitated hand pumps and motorised boreholes in the three LGAs.
A visit to some of the communities shows that, apart from the water projects which are now being enjoyed by the people, a new hygiene behaviour, such as regular sanitation of their environment, regular hand wash, maintenance and consistent use of toilets rather than defecating openly has also been adopted by the locals.
Jumai Bala, a house wife in Angwan Bukka village, Kujama ward, Chikun Local Government Area in the state explained that “what you see here is not a magic, before UNICEF people came here our village used to be very dirty, but after they thought us the danger of not keeping our environment clean, we quickly adjusted.
“And you can hardly find toilet in this village before, but now almost every household have a toilet and they are very clean. Now we hardly fall sick like we used to because they told us that some of the illness we used to experience were as a result of dirty environment and unclean water from our wells and other water sources.
“As you can see, they provided us with safe drinking water and we hardly use the water in the wells because of the borehole. I appreciate the state government for partnering with UNICEF and DFID to bring this project to our community.”
A community leader at Ungwan Tudun Mabuga in Kubau LGA, also noted that “before UNICEF brought this borehole to our village, we never had access to portable water, we used to drink water from a stream and whenever it was dry season, it is always hell here because the stream do dry up.
“This is the only water source around now, but it is good, it has reduced our suffering as far as water is concern. If you look down there, you can see that they are also building us toilets, both for the community use and another one for the school. I thank UNICEF, and Kaduna state government for selecting our village to be part of those who are benefiting from the project.”
Speaking on the success of the project so far, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Kaduna, Utpal Moitra noted that Provision of water is a fundemental right of every human being and that, that basic right as important as it is, is being challenged and not readily available.
“This is what SHAWN project is trying to provide. SHAWN is an example by which some of these basic rights are fulfilled and delivered and we just need to have patience with the government so that LGAs and communities within the state have these basic rights.
“SHAWN provides the way and example to share and work with government to say that making this right available for citizens is possible. I think we need to understand SHAWN project from that perspective. SHAWN gives us confidence that it is possible, it is now left to us to find how we want to do it or how any state government should do it.
“We need to drive the campaign of hand washing in Kaduna, it is something we need to find a way to do alongside RUWASA. We need to make it a regular state campaign. I called on the media to help inform the public on the importance of hand washing. It’s a simple thing to do and it doesn’t cost much just rob your hand with soap, wash with water and it will protect you from all sort of germs.” he added.
On her part, Theresa Pamma, Water Sanitation and Hygiene,WASH Specialist UNICEF Kaduna, said that apart from the initial three LGAs, additional eight LGAs of Giwa, Jaba, Jama’a, Kudan, Kajuru, Lere, Soba and Zango Kataf are equally implementing Open Defecation Free, ODF plans targeting the elimination of Open Defecation in communities.
According to her, “1,017 communities were already triggered for the attainment of ODF status, while 502 communities as against the targeted 190 in the three pilot LGAs were already certified ODF. 138, 882 pupils in 370 primary schools in Chikun, Kachia and Kubau LGAs were engaged in group hand-washing as routine practice using Tippy Taps.
“370 primary school teachers have been empowered with the capacity to promote hygiene practice and management of school WASH facilities in the three LGAs. 8, 854 caregivers innineteen health centers have access to WASH facilities, while 8, 800 caregivers were referred to health facilities for immunisation and birth registration services through inter-sectorial convergence with Health and Child Protection in the 3 SHAWN LGAs.”
Pamma added that UNICEF in 2016 “achieved N644 million counterpart contributions for implementation of WASH services and 100% target operational funds of N33 million from e levenSHAWN LGAs.”
On the maintenance of the projects, she said WASH Committee was setup in every benefitting community. This committees according to her, are saddled with the responsibilities of looking after the projects to ensure they are properly used and of vandalism, adding, “41.15% of WASHCOM members are female with 633 of them occupying leadership positions in the three LGAs.
Bashir Lere, Programme Manager, Kaduna State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, RUWASSA, explained that the state under governor El-rufai has spent over N818 million on the SHAWN project between 2015 and 2016.
“N698 million is already earmarked for 2017 scale-up of intervention in the SHAWN projects and we are hoping that base on the performance of the state before the second quarter of 2017, additional LGAs will be added.
“From inception of the programme to date, Kaduna State has been able to fulfill its part of the counterpart agreement with development partners in terms of funding. The government is fully committed, and the unwavering commitment of the government has raised the profile of the state among the comity of six states that are participating in the programme.”
By: ALEX UANGBAOJE