The Heineken Africa Foundation, WaterAid Nigeria, civil society organisations and the government on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 celebrated a seven-month project that expanded hygiene access for marginalised and vulnerable communities in Bauchi, Benue, Ekiti, Enugu, Kaduna and Oyo states.
The N284 million Scale-Up Hygiene project was aimed at complementing government’s efforts in reducing the spread of the coronavirus disease through large-scale hygiene promotion, and provision of handwashing facilities to support the practice of good hygiene in the states of intervention.
Despite the proven effectiveness of good hygiene to combat the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19, millions of people in Nigeria do not have anywhere to wash their hands and lack the knowledge of how and why to wash hands properly, according to WaterAid.
The lack of facilities and knowledge, says the organisation, creates a higher risk of illness and disease transmission, including the spread of COVID-19, with adverse impact on health, education, gender equality, livelihoods and socio-economic development.
To help address some of these challenges, WaterAid implemented the Clean Family Campaign in the six states of intervention to motivate people towards practicing specific hygiene behaviours – handwashing with soap, social distancing, respiratory hygiene, use of clean water and use of clean toilets.
Under the project campaign, over 21,000,000 residents around Bauchi, Benue, Ekiti, Enugu, Kaduna and Oyo states and in Abuja were empowered with context-specific hygiene information and encouraged to practice good hygiene, using different promotional touchpoints including national, state and community TV and radio stations.
Around 210 non-contact and inclusive handwashing facilities were installed in healthcare facilities, schools and public places to support the practice of good hygiene. Additionally, hygiene packs containing face masks and soap were distributed to 29,000 households and 7,200 people with disabilities in the states of intervention.
In addition to the large-scale hygiene promotion and the provision of hygiene facilities and kits, WaterAid also carried out advocacy to the government to integrate water, sanitation and hygiene services in national and state’s COVID-19 response plans and programmes. Our advocacy has facilitated and continues to highlight the need to integrate WASH in health interventions targeted at tackling the coronavirus disease.
Evelyn Mere, Country Director of WaterAid Nigeria, said: “While I am delighted that this project has successfully delivered on its objectives, the increasing number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is an indication that the journey of expanding hygiene access has not ended. It has only just begun. We must work to sustain and consolidate on the gains of the project and accelerate universal hygiene to WASH by 2030.
“We urge our implementing civil society partners to continue to advocate for improved WASH services in their states and to promote citizen engagement to deliver on sustainable WASH services.
“I commend the efforts and commitments of our government partners in replicating and scaling up these facilities. We recognise Bauchi State’s provision of an additional 102 handwashing facilities, Ekiti State’s improvement of water access in four markets and Benue State’s contribution of N4 million which enabled an additional 6,000 hygiene packs to be provided to households.
“I want to encourage the governments of the states where we implemented the project to continue to prioritise hygiene access and to ensure increased investment in the WASH sector to cater to the needs of residents in their states. In addition to increasing allocation for the WASH sector, we must ensure that the allocated funds are targeted effectively to ensure a ripple effect resulting in better health, socio-economic, gender and education outcomes.
“We sincerely appreciate the Heineken Africa Foundation for the tremendous financial support received for the successful implementation of the project.”
Suzanne Giele, the Heineken Africa Foundation General Manager, said: “Water, sanitation and hygiene have been on our agenda for many years already and I am happy that we have been able to scale up and accelerate our efforts in this field because handwashing with soap not only helps to protect against the spread of COVID-19 but also other infectious diseases. I am thrilled that together with WaterAid, we have been able to make a difference for communities during these very challenging times and after.
“It is crucial that we all continue to join hands to uphold the basic human rights to clean water, decent sanitation and hygiene for all, particularly for vulnerable communities, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, who continue to live without access to these basic essentials.”