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WaterAid, Cummins partner to improve WASH facilities in Lagos, Abuja communities

WaterAid has announced partnership with Cummins’ Water Works aimed at strengthening communities through sustainable water and advancing water security for 20 million people by 2025.

Participants at the WaterAid event

Evelyn Mere, Country Director, WaterAid Nigeria, who made this known during the project launch in Lagos on Wednesday, December 6, 2023, disclosed that this aligns with WaterAid’s goal of ensuring everyone everywhere has access to safe water, decent toilets, and good hygiene. The intervention also supports the Lagos State Educational Transformation Plan 2020, aimed at making a win-win for all stakeholders involved.

She said: “One in 10 people still don’t have even a basic supply of clean water close to home. A lack of access to this life-saving service means women are left to bear the brunt of walking miles and spending valuable hours in collecting water.

“Everyone can live a more fulfilled, dignified and healthy life with the opportunities that safe water, sanitation and hygiene bring. WaterAid Nigeria will continue to collaborate to transform lives, deliver on desired health outcomes, address the global water crisis and improve sanitation in Abuja and Lagos.”

Mark Oni-Okeke, Managing Director of Cummins West Africa Limited, in his remarks, said: “Access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene are fundamental rights of every human being, most especially mothers and children who need access to clean water, proper sanitation practices and a healthy environment to ensure the family members live better lives. With these available, we would be one step closer to creating a society that fosters healthy living as a priority for every individual without discrimination.

“As an organisation, we are investing in the improvement of lives of persons in the communities where we have presence, we believe that our partnership with WaterAid Nigeria to implement the WASH project in Nigeria, starting with Lagos and Abuja, will create tremendous impact in the lives of the beneficiaries and their respective communities. With our employees serving as volunteers in the project, alongside the WaterAid team, we would be reemphasising and living out our culture of care.”

In a chat with journalists, Kolawole Banwo, Head of Advocacy, Policy and Communication with WaterAid Nigeria, opined that “the objective of this project is to increase access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene facilities in selected institutions in Lagos State to enhance the living standard and wellbeing of those who use the institutions and agencies like those in schools and also in some communities where we work.

“In a situation where we have one in 10 people having no access to basic WASH, we have only 11% of our schools having access to WASH facilities and we have children in those schools to be nurtured, we have 4% of healthcare centres not having basic WASH and facilities for patients and caregivers and all, we are hoping that we can contribute to changing that narratives at least in selected communities and institutions in Lagos State, so we have selected some schools, correction facilities and some communities to ensure that we are able to make the necessary construction and necessary upgrade, properly regulating water to ensure that to those facilities so that with support from Cummins and in line with their own ideal and expectation for their waterworks projects we can change that narrative and expect that more people have access to WASH because our motto is everyone should be able to have access to decent toilet, clean water and good hygiene services.”

Also speaking, Nkechi Egejuru, Director, Cummins West Africa Limited, disclosed: “We are contributing our quota to national action plan to revitalise WASH services in Lagos and Abuja specifically.

“As a company, Cummins has a core value which is to ensure that we improve the communities in which we have presence, so the situation with WASH presents that opportunity for us and we feel committed to contributing our quota to achieving that.

“With our business model, what we do is that we just improve the communities that we have presence and that is manifest in our corporate social responsibility that we feel towards such communities and as part of that we ensure that our employees mandatorily contribute at least four hours of their time at the minimum every year to be able to achieve our target.

“We chose Lagos and Abuja first because our operations are located in those states and secondly it also instrumental to enable employees participate in the programme.”

According to the 2021 WASHNORM statistics, 45% of people in Lagos State lack basic water supply services, 38% lack access to sanitation and 65% do not have access to hygiene services. While in Abuja, 82% of the population does not have access to safely managed water supply services, 48% lack access to sanitation, 82% do not have access to hygiene services and 30% of the population practice open defecation.

The lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene services disproportionately affects women and girls as they are burdened with the responsibility of walking miles in search of these services, particularly water.

Women and girls collectively spend 200 million hours every day fetching water which considerably lessens the time available to spend with their families, address other household tasks or incoming-generating activities, which could help lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

For girls, water collection takes time away from their education and sometimes even prevents them from attending school altogether, also contributing to their risk of being exposed to diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery and other water-borne illnesses from contaminated water sources.

WaterAid, in collaboration with the Nigerian government, water, sanitation and hygiene stakeholders and civil society partners, will emphasise improving access to sustainable, reliable and affordable water, sanitation, and hygiene services through the rehabilitation of water schemes and toilets in public places. The project will build the capacity of women to be a part of decision-making processes. Furthermore, people across the intervention areas will be reached with hygiene education to improve public health in both Abuja and Lagos.

The project will capitalise on successful partnerships to influence and strengthen the WASH sector in Abuja and Lagos for the expansion of access to water, sanitation and hygiene.

Abuja and Lagos State are two of Nigeria’s fastest growing cities where rapid, unpredictable and unplanned population growth, limited government capacity, lack of maintenance and overuse has added pressure on existing water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure.

The programme had in attendance representatives of Permanent Secretary/Tutor General, Education District VI, Mrs. Sherifat Adejoke Yusuff; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Water Resources; Local Council Development Areas, and Civil Society Organisations, among others.

By Ajibola Adedoye

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