FG, Cross Rivers government tasked on WASH policy, counterpart funding
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Purpose and other stakeholders in water and sanitation projects in Cross River State have appealed to the state government to provide the twenty five percent counterpart fund expected to enable communities benefit from Water, Sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes in the state.
They said the government has not done enough in closing the gaps and feared that the people stands to lose if urgent steps are not taken.
The call was contained in a communiqué jointly signed by relevant stakeholders in Calabar during a one- day engagement with the state’s WASH Steering Committee on Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme (WSSSRP) II status.
In the communiqué, the stakeholders called on the state government to establish WASH department in the state.
Speaking earlier, the Director General, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, (RUWATSSA), Ita Ikpeme, said the state government could not raise the counterpart fund to support donor agencies in WASH projects because of the state’s financial situation.
He noted that Governor Ben Ayade has been passionate about providing water and sanitation to communities in all the local government areas, hence his promise to commit $15million to WASH projects despite lean resource.
Meanwhile, a university lecturer, Emmanuel Akpabio, has called on the federal government to formulate a coherent policy for water sanitation and hygiene. He observed that, the lack of such policy has hampered government’s effort to sustain improved WASH performance.
Akpabio who lectures at the University of Uyo made the call during a one day public engagement on a European Union project aimed at improving the capacities of policy makers, scientists and relevant stakeholders for achieving evidence-based policies in WASH held in Uyo.
He noted that roughly 42 percent of the urban and semi urban populations are estimated to have access to safe drinking water as compared with about 29 percent of the rural dwellers.
He said the present ad-hoc arrangement was not good enough, adding that, the entire government system has to be reformed to pave way for innovation and smart ways of project implementation.
He noted that the task of securing access to safe drinking water and sanitary services is transferred to the ordinary citizens who have to depend on all forms of unimproved sources mostly dictated by economic, social and environmental circumstances as well as religious and cultural beliefs”.
He further explained that unsafe drinking water; inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene are a major challenge in developing countries with dire consequences of avoidable deaths and diseases.
“WASH has diverse dimension, water (quantity and quality). It is associated with the transmission of water-washed, water borne, water –based and water related disease arising from inadequate supply, poor quality, hosts to aquatic invertebrates and the spread of diseases agents respectively. The sources of water we drink, the storage medium and the way we manage water are fundamental. Sanitation and hygiene carry several elements including personal hygiene, domestic and environmental cleanliness, waste disposal, hand washing, food hygiene, menstrual hygiene, child, safe disposal of human excrement and control of waste water”, he said.
Akpabio bemoaned the impact of water, sanitation, hygiene and public health on children and woman who spend so much of their time and energy to secure water for drinking at the expense of engaging in other productive/study activities.
According to him, a child carry the main responsibility for collecting water with girls under 15 years of age being twice as likely to carry the responsibility as boys’ under15 years pointing out that in Africa, 90 percent of the work of gathering water for the household and for food preparation is done by women.
“Indeed, WASH challenge in Sub South Africa is complicated by the existence of layers of socio-cultural and religious beliefs, attitudes and values across geographic, religion and economic groups, our greatest problem is our inability to disengage WASH matters from socio-cultural behaviour and religious beliefs which in some cases are reproduced at the policy arena,” he added.