By: ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
A community leader in Unguwan Damaru of Soba Local Government Area of Kaduna State, has explained how his community is succeeding in it’s support for the implementation of the Sanitation Hygiene and Water in Nigeria, (SHAWN II), project, without difficulties, that has made their environment 100% clean and Open Defecation Free (ODF).
Adda’u Ibrahim, Chairman of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committee (WASHCOM), in the community, said, immediately after being trained by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on hygienic environment for healthy living, and the need for them to make their community open defecation free, leaders of the community swung into action.
According to him, “we set some rules and regulations that was met to sanction offender, one of such rules was that anybody caught defecating in the community will pay a fine of N200 after packing it and washing himself thoroughly.
“And there are so many others too, and these has helped us tremendously and because of the fear of paying that amount of money and the shame that will follow everybody began to respect themselves and up to this moment nobody dare to do it again.
“Before UNICEF can to our rescue, there was no day you wake up with seeing it everywhere and we used to see it as a normal way of not knowing it has effect on our health, but thank God who brought UNICEF to teach us the danger of living in such environment.
“The other day they told us that because of how we have been supporting the project by making sure no one is allowed the defecate anyhow, that our community has been declared Open Defecation Free.
“Apart from teaching us to clean our environment and washing our hands, they also provided us with Hand pump that is giving us clean drinking water. And that has really helped us here, you hardly see any case of cholera and diarrhea and our children are living very healthy.”
The Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), project being funded by the UKAID through it’s Department for International Development (DFID) office, is currently being implemented by UNICEF and the Kaduna State Government, through it’s State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA).
The WASH project was aimed at providing access to sanitation, hygiene and improved water supply for everyone in the benefiting communities. And Twelve Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Chikun, kachia, Kubau, Kajuru, Kudan, Jaba, Jema’a, Giwa, Lere, Soba, Zangaon Kataf and Igabi are currently enjoying the programme in the state, with access to safely managed drinking water sources, and about 258,412 people living in Open Defecation Free (ODF) Certified communities.
On the maintenance, of the faicilities, Ibrahim, stated, “as a committee saddled with the responsibility of maintaining the SHAWN facilities, we ensure that we clean our environment every three days, and now with 24 hours clean water supply, life has never been this good.
“Animal and human faeces was a normal sight all over our community and in addition to our filthy environment, our only source of water was an open well, infested with all kinds of dirt, because it is always left open.
“Running water flow back our excreta into the well during the raining season, and in the dry season the wind also play its part by depositing all kinds of objects and debris into the well.
“With no alternative, we bath, cook and drink from the well that is infested with germs, and this exposed us to preventable diseases, ranging from cholera, diarrhoea, malaria, among others.”
He said that the SHAWN project has completely transformed their lives, stressing that it had encouraged them to build toilets in their homes, including public toilets.
“The projects equally provided us with a borehole for access to good sources of water and taught us how to keep our environment clean and how to properly wash our hands with soap all the time.
Zaitu Mai-Unguwa, a mother of five, said that until the SHAWN project, no fewer than six children every week were being taken to the hospital for one ailment or the other.
“But now, we rarely go to the hospital and the quality of our lives have greatly improved, “she said.
Maliya Abubakar, 13, who was seen fetching water from the borehole described the development as life changing, saying the borehole had saved her from long hours spent fetching water from the well, saying, “now I have more hours to play, read my books and do other things.”
The Village Head, Gambo Yusuf, thanked UNICEF, Kaduna State Government and DFID for saving the community from the trap of ignorance and for supporting his people with facilities to live a quality life.