The Heineken Foundation Africa has extended its partnership with WaterAid to support its second phase of its Scale-Up Hygiene project.
WaterAid, an international NGO, made the disclosure in a statement on Monday, August 2, 2021 in Lagos.
According to it, the project was initially launched by WaterAid Nigeria in 2020 as part of its COVID-19 intervention targeted at assisting vulnerable communities.
”It will help the communities to protect themselves against the spread of the disease.
“This second phase of the project will focus on consolidating on the wins of the first phase and ramping up existing hygiene promotion interventions and campaigns to increase access to improved hygiene.
“Reduce the spread of the virus, and support national and sub-national governments to integrate water, sanitation, and hygiene in their COVID-19 response and vaccination strategy,” it said.
To achieve this, WaterAid said it would empower communities with context-specific hygiene behaviour change promotion tools, insights and materials designed to help them protect themselves from infectious diseases including COVID-19.
It said the project would increase access to non-contact and inclusive handwashing facilities in key strategic locations and deepen advocacy strategies to key government stakeholders to prioritise, integrate and sustain water, sanitation, and hygiene access.
It noted that the aforementioned measures would serve as key preventive method for fighting against disease spread and ensure preparedness against future pandemics.
“The first phase of the project was successful in reaching and equipping 21 million residents in Bauchi, Benue, Ekiti, Enugu, Kaduna, and Oyo states and the FCT.
“With context-specific hygiene information, encouraging the practice of good hygiene, using different promotional cues and 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 were distributed to 29,000 households and 7,200 people with disabilities in the states of intervention,” WaterAid said.
The international aid agency noted that only about 1.4 million people, less than one per cent of the population, have been fully vaccinated against COVID- 19 .
Quoting the World Health Organisation, WaterAid said: “Vaccines are only part of managing COVID-19, in addition to the main preventative measures, including frequent handwashing with soap.”
WaterAid said that where vaccines were being delivered, they should be delivered alongside other essential public health measures – including water, sanitation, and hygiene – to ensure a comprehensive and sustainable approach to controlling the spread of the disease.
It said that handwashing with soap remained a critical first line of defence against the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19.
WaterAid said that.the second phase of the Scale-Up Hygiene project would be implemented in Bauchi, Enugu, and Oyo states.
It said that the project would strengthen governance structures for water, sanitation, and hygiene service delivery to increase access to clean water and hygiene services and support the control of the spread of COVID-19 through hygiene behaviour change interventions.
Speaking on the partnership, Mrs Evelyn Mere, Country Director of WaterAid Nigeria, said: “With emerging new variants of the coronavirus, thousands of people are exposed to the risk of contracting the disease.
“While the world has urgently risen to the challenge of COVID -19 by introducing vaccine administration, every year hundreds of thousands of lives are silently lost because of lack of clean water, decent toilets, and hygiene.
“There is no doubt that urgent actions to sustain access to water, sanitation and hygiene are needed as a long-term strategy to fighting against disease spread and warding off future pandemics.
“The government must respond now to providing infrastructure that sustains water, sanitation and hygiene at all levels, especially given its vital role in preventing disease spread and ensuring pandemic preparedness against future disease outbreaks.”
Also, Sade Morgan, Corporate Affairs Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc/HEINEKEN Nigeria, said: “There is concrete proof that good hygiene habits are critical in the eradication of diseases and, COVID-19 is no different.
”Heineken is proud to be supporting the phase II of the Scale-Up Hygiene project with WaterAid Nigeria as part of our response to COVID-19.
“By building on the success of phase 1 of the project, we are optimistic that there will be a greater positive impact on the health and general wellbeing of the selected communities,” Morgan said.