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Guinness begins water intervention project to impact 10m Nigerians

Guinness Nigeria, a subsidiary of Diageo Plc and a leading beverage and alcohol producing company, has announced a long-term water intervention project across five states in Nigeria.

In addition to providing clean portable water in these states, the multinational organisation is also supporting the FG to intensify hand washing culture in public places to halt Lassa fever.

The beneficiaries of the 10-year project are: Edo, Kano, Kebbi, Nasarawa states and FCT.

This was disclosed by Titilola Alabi, Diageo in Society manager, Guinness Nigeria, when the Organised Private Sector on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (OPS-WASH) met Suleiman Adamu, minister in charge of water resources, last Tuesday in Abuja.

Speaking on the announcement, Alabi said, “In this financial year, we have committed to establishing five new water schemes in Abuja, Edo, Kano, Kebbi and Nasarawa states. We have chosen the communities in these states carefully following a Needs Assessment and for the benefit of a larger population.”

“Currently, our water of life project, created to provide water to under-served communities by solar-powered water systems, is providing water to over 1 million Nigerians. We have 33 of such water schemes across 22 states,” she said.

In his remarks, Nicholas Igwe, national coordinator, Organised Private Sector WASH, noted that the role of private sector in scaling up water and sanitation services in the country could not be over-emphasised. He called for more commitment from all stakeholders, especially with respect to Corporate Social Responsibility and how WASH access could promote value chain in job creation.

According to Igwe, the private sector had commenced discussions with the Nigeria Diaspora Commission to see how one million Diasporas could adopt one toilet each for one household. He said the private sector was the engine of the country, hence the possibility of harnessing their full potential for the benefit of the country.

Zaid Jurji, UNICEF Chief of WASH, appreciated Nigeria’s efforts and its momentum toward ending open defecation in the country. He expressed concern that current efforts must tally with increasing population, adding that an average of $5.7 million was needed to achieve water and sanitation services in one local government area. He said this would cover all costs and other benefits.

“We are close to 200 million people and with the increasing population, if every year there is an increase of services for five million people, it is barely enough. We are competing with natural population increase. So, if we do five million people, we have done nothing. We are just breaking even, so anything to be measured towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must be done beyond that. This is to give you the scale of the problem,” Jurji stated.

He further explained that “with our unit of intervention, we have been working for so many years now with the Ministry of Water Resources and at the state level. Every local government area requires an average of $5.7 million to achieve water and sanitation services.”

He assured that UNICEF would continue to support organisations and communities to promote sustainable development goal such as ending open defecation practice and overall hygiene promotion in the country. He, therefore, urged organisations to coordinate their activities to halt duplication of efforts, promotion of effective implementation and monitoring for the programme success.

Earlier, while welcoming the team, the minister pledged government’s commitment to partner with the private sector in financing and improving corporate social responsibilities in the fight against open defecation practice in the country.

According to him, the role of the private sector in the revitalisation of the WASH sector could not be overlooked, being the engine room for economic growth. He noted that they were the key players when it came to creating innovative structures, which promoted financing of WASH services. However, he expressed worry about lack of water and sanitation in institutions and public places.

The minister said the federal government had targeted a zero open defecation goal by 2025, saying with commitment from all stakeholders, this would be achieved. According to him, the lack of synergy among development partners’ interventions had led to groundwater depletion largely from unregulated activities.

“There is urgent an need for sanity in the water resources sector. We need to measure all social impacts of current interventions. It’s not just about figures and monies, we need to synergise all efforts for the benefit of all Nigerians,” Adamu said.

 

ODINAKA ANUDU

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