The United Nations Children’s Fund says it has completed a water and sanitation project to enhance access to portable water to about one million people in Jigawa and Kano States.
A statement on Sunday jointly signed by Geoffery Njoku, UNICEF Communication Specialist, and Rabiu Musa, UNICEF Kano Field Officer, disclosed that communities in eight local government areas of the two states would benefit from the facilities.
Njoku disclosed that the projects were executed by the UNICEF under its Water and Sanitation programme supported by the European Union.
He said the project was designed to enhance access to portable water and sanitation facilities in the benefiting communities.
Njoku listed the benefiting communities to include: Madobi; Takai, Gaya and Kabo Local Government Areas of Kano State as well as Malam Madori, Taura, Kazaure, and Gumel Local Government Councils of Jigawa State.
The UNICEF official said the European Union supported WASH projects in urban and rural areas through the provision of water schemes, technical assistance and capacity development to institutions and agencies in the sector.
Njoku added that the EU support focused at the improvement of access to safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene services in communities.
According to statistics by the EU, over 100,000 children under the age of five die annually due to water borne diseases such as diarrhea, directly attributed to unsafe water and sanitation in 90 per cent of cases.
The statement said: “The lack of WASH facilities in schools are of serious concern as children who do not have access to water are most likely to lose interest in pursuing learning opportunities.
“Because they are forced to spend more time in search of water during school hours or stay out of school to recover from illness caused by frequent episodes of diarrhea.
“Access to clean drinking water is a human right, just like the right to food and the right to live without torture and racial discrimination.”
Njoku revealed that statistics of the WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping showed that 47 million Nigerians practice open defecation, while only 11 per cent had access to complete basic water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Only 13 per cent of schools have access to basic water and sanitation services.
Njoku said: “Ending open defecation; making water, sanitation and hygiene services available to Nigerians are the biggest challenges, as construction and management of facilities require sustained investments and partnerships with private sector.
“The Nigeria Government should invest more in the water sector, making sure that every Nigerian has access to clean water and toilet as lack of access to water is impacting their well-being, especially of the most vulnerable.
“The EU through UNICEF is supporting the Government of Nigeria to achieve the objectives of the national campaign on open defecation Free Nigeria launched in 2019 and the state of emergency declared on the WASH sector by the President in 2018.”
According to Njoku, the EU had invested more than 250 million Euros in the water sector to improve the WASH conditions of more than 10 million people in 14 states in the country.
Njoku noted that WASH facilities built with support from EU would go a long way to enhance access to safe services.