The U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on Thursday launched a new Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) services activity to improve water resource management, increase access to proper sanitation, and encourage good hygiene behaviors in the Northwest states of Kebbi and Sokoto.
The new USAID Improved Sustainability of Integrated WASH Services (iWASH) activity will help state agencies reduce water-borne diseases and associated socio-economic challenges through an innovative, integrated approach, focusing on improving access to WASH services in health centers, schools, and underserved communities.
“This activity will help Kebbi and Sokoto states provide better community WASH services and contribute to improved health outcomes,” Amarachi Obinna-Nnadi, USAID Development Outreach and Communications Specialist, said at a Thursday launch ceremony for iWASH in Abuja.
According to UNICEF, fewer than 40 percent of Sokoto and Kebbi residents have access to reliable basic water and sanitation services. Up to 70,000 Nigerians die from preventable waterborne diseases a year, UNICEF reports.
The two-year, $2 million iWASH activity will rehabilitate water points, construct new solar-powered boreholes, build latrines and handwashing stations, and install an innovative new online remote surveillance system known as PumpView.
In addition to promoting good watershed management, providing improved water services, the activity will market and advocate for good hygiene behaviors such as hand washing before and after eating, properly storing water, and thoroughly cleaning implements for preparing and consuming foodstuffs.
USAID is engaging the Nigerian Green Habitat Initiative (GHI) to manage a coalition of local organizations to improve access to improved water resources management and address broader social determinants for conflicts over scarce water resources. In many cases, these entities are part of the beneficiary communities and extend the reach of local WASH service providers.
iWASH will also help government institutions and communities coordinate sanitation and hygiene processes and water resources management to maintain operation and maintenance of sanitary facilities and engage the private sector through social enterprise marketing to communities vulnerable to sanitation-related diseases.
“We are happy that the new WASH program will look into cultural orientation of community members and educate them on good sanitation and hygiene practices,” Umar Bature, the Sokoto Commissioner of Water Resources said at the launch. “Sokoto will provide all the necessary support for iWASH to succeed.”
GHI’s approach to implementing the activity will include a strong focus on equality and non-discrimination to ensure women and other disadvantaged groups are given the opportunity to equally participate and make significant contributions in reaching the goal of better water and sanitation services and hygienic community behaviors in Sokoto and Kebbi, Obinna-Nnadi said.