The United States Agency for International Development, USAID, on Wednesday, launched an Effective Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program, E-WASH, in six states in its effort to improve the delivery of drinking water and sanitation services across these states.
DAILY NIGERIAN reports that the beneficiary states, Abia, Delta, Imo, Niger, Sokoto and Taraba are to enjoy a 4-year support of $60.4 million to strengthen the governance, financial and technical viability of their water agencies, which will subsequently lead to an improvement in the health and hygiene of their population.
Speaking during the launching in Abuja, the Minister of Water resources, Suleiman Hussain Adamu, said that such initiative by the USAID is critically important in ensuring the extension and maintenance of water and sanitation services to even more Nigerians.
According to the minister who was represented by the Director, Water Supply of the ministry, Benson Ajisegiri, expanding private sector opportunity in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector would improve the long-term health of the sector.
He said: “By strengthening these state Water Boards’ capacity to make solid investment decisions, improving the efficiency of their billing and collections, and responsiveness to the concerns of their customers, more people and businesses will ultimately have access to water and sanitation services.”
Earlier, the Mission Director, USAID/Nigeria, Stephen Haykin, said the selection criteria for the six beneficiary states included the state’s willingness to reform the existing functionality of their infrastructure and their potential for positive impact.
“I am confident that USAID, our new partner state governments, collaborative development partners and the business community, can share our respective expertise, capabilities and resources to develop more professional and accountable water and sanitation utilities,” Mr Haykin noted.
According to him, the United Nations said about 57 million people lack access to safe drinking water in Nigeria, and each year, water-borne illnesses kill around one million Nigerian children under the age of five.