USAID launches new $60 million urban water scheme in six states

The U.S Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched 60.4 million dollars new urban water and sanitation activity that will support the efforts of six states in Nigeria.

USAID-Nigeria Mission Director, Stephen Haykin, said this at the launch of the scheme on Wednesday in Abuja.

He explained that the scheme was to improve the health and hygiene of their populations through improved delivery of water and sanitation services.

He said that the scheme which is under the four-year 60 million dollars Effective Water, Sanitation and Hygiene activity (E-WASH) will provide assistance to Abia, Delta, Imo, Niger, Sokoto and Taraba states.

According to him, the scheme will strengthen the governance, financial and technical viability of the water agencies in the beneficiary states.

The six states were competitively selected.

The selection criteria included the willingness to reform, existing functionality of infrastructure and potential for positive impact.

Haykin expressed confidence that USAID’s new partnership with the states could share in their respective expertise, capabilities and resources to develop more professional and accountable water and sanitation utilities.

“It is collaborative development partners and the business community double nature scheme,’’ he said.

He expressed concern that the UN record shows that about 57 million Nigerians lack access to safe drinking water and each year, water-borne illnesses kill around one million Nigerian children under the age of five.

“There is no question that access to a reliable supply of clean water and modern sanitation services is related to the quality of community life here in Nigeria and around the world.

“Access to these services helps a nation produce strong, healthy and vibrant citizens but the lack thereof leads to millions of preventable deaths, largely among children every year in Nigeria,” he said.

He added that E-WASH would help the six states water agencies demonstrate that better performing water boards would raise the quality of services for their customers facilitate economic sustainability.

According to him, it will also help increase the chance of more fully serving all customers in their areas, including the most marginalised.

He stressed that the Nigerian government was making progress towards expanding access to good water to all its citizens.

He lauded the commitment of the federal government as well as the governments of the six states to improve water and sanitation service delivery to their constituents.

“The strong commitment was a criteria in selecting the states that will participate in E-WASH, and has catalysed strong collaboration between stakeholder partners, such as the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the French Development Agency and the Islamic Development Bank,” he said.

Haykin also said that these institutions were making significant investment to rehabilitate and expand existing water sanitation and infrastructure across the country.

He added that the alignment of these investments with government, and with each other was crucial to their successful outcomes and impact.

The Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu, represented by the Director of Water Supply and Public Private Partnership in the ministry, Mr Benson Ajisegiri, lauded USAID intervention in the sector.

He said that the E-WASH was timely because it fits perfectly into the National Wash Action Plan, which the Federal Executive Council recently approved.

“The Action Plan is our road map towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It is an action plan that we developed ourselves and we hope that very soon implementation will begin,” he said.

The minister said that there are about five key areas within the Action Plan which the E-WASH fits into perfectly.

They include governance in the water sector, sustainability, improved sanitation, funding and financing, monitoring and evaluation, he said.

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