The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has supported Nigeria with 9.98 million dollars to improve Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects.
This is contained in a statement issued by USAID Mission Director, Dr Anne Patterson in Kaduna.
Patterson said the support was to improve WASH services in Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states for the next three years.
She said the funds would provide lifesaving WASH services to more than 300,000 people in need of assistance.
According to her, the assistance will help to build community-centred approaches to deliver, operate and manage sustainable WASH services in rural areas and foster resilience in communities.
“It will also help rebuild dilapidated infrastructure and support community efforts to increase access to proper sanitation, adopt good hygiene practices and improve water quality.
“This new activity with UNICEF will help reduce waterborne diseases to keep more people, especially children, healthy.
“USAID is dedicated to ensuring clean water for more Nigerians.”
She pointed out that the 2019 National Outcome Routine Mapping of WASH services showed that 30 per cent of Nigerians lacked access to basic water services and less than 10 per cent had access to safely managed water services.
She added that the mapping also showed that while 44 per cent of Nigerians had access to basic sanitation services, 23 per cent, representing 46 million people that lack access to proper sanitation.
“Sokoto and Kebbi have the lowest levels of access to basic water services at 38 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively.
“Similarly, access to basic sanitation is also low in Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto state at 35 per cent, 38 per cent, and 41 per cent respectively.
“Only five per cent of people in Sokoto and one per cent in Kebbi have access to safely managed water services.
“This severe shortage of clean water supply, toilets and handwashing facilities in households across Nigeria presents a formidable challenge,” she said.
On his part, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins said poor access to WASH services was the major cause of diarrhoea morbidity and mortality in Nigeria.
Hawkins added that poor access to WASH services was associated with at least 70,000 deaths in children under five each year.
He said that lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic had also reinforced the importance of adequate and safe water, basic sanitation and proper hygiene practices to stem the spread of the disease in Nigeria.
“We are extremely grateful for the timely and much-needed WASH support from the U.S. Government.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with prevailing challenges and gaps in WASH services in North-West Nigeria is detrimental to the development of children and rural communities.
“This assistance is a testament to USAID’s commitment to the children and people of Nigeria,” Hawkins said.