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World Bank approves $700m SURWASH programme in seven states

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World Bank

The World Bank has approved a $700 million Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH) programme in seven states of the country.

SURWASH will provide six million people with basic drinking water services and 1.4 million people access to improved sanitation services. The programme will deliver improved water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to 2,000 schools and health care facilities and assist 500 Communities to achieve open defecation free status.

The programme will be financed through a $700 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) and $175 million contributions from seven state governments, namely Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, and Plateau. It will focus not only on improving access to Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services in selected states, but on establishing the policies, regulations, procedures, institutional frameworks, and supply chain.

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MEANWHILE, The participants at a virtual workshop organised by the Bread of Life Development Foundation on the five-year programme designed to support the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) for the revitalisation of Nigeria’s WASH sector in the seven states, said Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR) and World Bank should ensure the seven benefitting states set up independent task teams saddled with the responsibility of achieving SURWASH results.

The participants agreed that the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and benefitting seven states should take ownership of the project and ensure project implementation guidelines are strictly respected.

Representative of the foundation, Babatope Babalobi, who read the communique said participants were drawn from federal, state’s water agencies, civil society groups and professional bodies and discussed previous World Bank programmes in Nigeria’s WASH sector, which had been challenging, with several projects outcomes judged unsatisfactory by the World Bank Independent Evaluation Group.

They advised World Bank Nigeria to play a strong supervisory role in SURWASH project implementation to ensure achievement of expected results. “World Bank should ensure the Task Team Leader for SURWASH is fully resident in Nigeria; and increase the human capacity of its office in Nigeria for strong implementation support to the beneficiary states.”

They are worried that the World Bank’s fiduciary systems assessment of SURWASH rated the Integrated fiduciary risk (Financial management, procurement and governance) high; and the residual fiduciary risk rated Substantial; due to the financial management challenges, weak procurement capacity, and weak capacity of several of the beneficiary states.

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They stated that SURWASH’s implementation according to design, and effective monitoring and evaluation are crucial to achieving its stated objectives.

Participants do not expect the World Bank to micro manage project implementation, however, fears were expressed that the FMWR seems to lack capacity to ensure ‘compliance with the ESSA, PAP, procurement and fiduciary management guidelines, and other World Bank standards’. The World Bank should rather shoulder this responsibly as procurement is the heart of project management.

Civil Society organisations should be more actively involved in SURWASH, while the financing body as well as implementers at Federal and State levels should create a space for robust non state actors engagement.

“SURWASH should build on past interventions in the WASH sector, and foster strong linkages with other programmes by external support agencies. The Citizens Feedback System adopted under the second National Urban Water Sector Reform Programme should be revisited as a mechanism for potential civil society involvement,” they added.

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