By Fabian Ekeruche, Lagos.
WaterAid Nigeria says that its Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) improvement project will benefit about 173,000 people living in Ikorodu North, Ojodu and Ikotun Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in Lagos State.
Evelyn Mere, Country Director, WaterAid, Nigeria, said this on Friday in Lagos while delivering a keynote speech at the official unveiling of the WASH Improvement Project in the state.
The project is executed by WaterAid, in partnership with the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, with the support of PepsiCo Foundation and the leadership of the LCDAs.
Mere said: “It seeks to improve the lives of about 173,000 people, including men, women and children, with sustainable access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene.
“These cut across five communities in select rural and peri-urban communities in Lagos State.
“The project will also focus on rehabilitating selected water schemes and providing inclusive sanitation facilities located within public places such as markets, schools and healthcare centres.”
The country director noted that lack of access to safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene services impacted negatively on health, exposing people to infectious diseases such as diarrhoea.
Meree said that 90 per cent of diarrhoea cases were linked to unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene.
“Women, sanitation and hygiene are human rights and essential basic services that serve as a foundation for reducing the spread of infectious diseases and promoting human dignity.
“According to the 2021 WASHNORM statistics, 55 per cent of households in Lagos State have access to safely managed water supply services.
“Only 15 per cent have access to safely managed sanitation services, and only 35 per cent of people have access to hygiene services,” she added.
Mere said that women and girls were largely affected by the lack of access to these lifesaving services, as they expended huge amounts of time and money in search of the services.
She said that the need for these services made the female gender to particularly look for water, to the detriment of their businesses and education.
She said that due to the importance of the project, it would be implemented by setting up community structures to ensure their sustainability.
“We will also be carrying out hygiene promotion in communities, targeted at women, while implementing capacity building and economic empowerment programmes for them.
“This project will be implemented over a three-year period as a ‘win-win’ situation for all partners.
“It fits perfectly into the health and environment pillar of the Lagos State T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda, as well as the Water and Sanitation Focus Area of the recently launched Lagos State Development Plan 2022-2052.
“It also aligns with PepsiCo’s goal of strengthening WASH access in communities near PepsiCo operations.
“The project also clearly reflects WaterAid’s strategic aim of universal access to WASH, which underlines why we are focusing on LCDAs where we already have ongoing interventions,” she said.
Mere expressed gratitude to partners for prioritising WASH in their Corporate Social Responsibility commitments and appreciated the Lagos State Government and the LCDAs for being receptive and open to the partnership.
Speaking for Pepsico Foundation, Mr Gbenga Akinsanya, Human Resources Manager, said that the Foundation’s net water positive strategy is to provide water for 100 million people by 2030.
“We are already halfway to our goal,” he said.
Akinsanya said that the Foundation had helped more than 68 million people to have access to safe water through distribution, purification and conservation programmes, “putting us more than halfway to our goal.
“Since we started this work in 2007, PepsiCo has invested more than 53 million dollars in safe water access programmes, catalysing nearly 700 million dollars in additional funding from other donors.
“These investments have positive impacts on peoples’ lives by improving living conditions, by bringing clean water access closer to homes and promoting water saving agricultural technologies,” he said.
One of the highlights of the event was the unveiling of the project by Mr Nurudeen Shodeinde, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Office of Drainage Services and Water Resources.
The WASH Improvement Project will be executed with a one-million-dollar grant from PepsiCo Foundation.