United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has promised to partner Enugu state government to build capacities and skills of youth volunteers on water and sanitation, on social mobilization, hygiene promotion approaches to ensure that they deliver on their core mandate.
UNICEF wash manager, Enugu field office, Mamita Bora made the promise in Enugu at the flag off of national youth volunteer programme for hand washing and clean Nigeria campaign for COVID-19 prevention
The event which was organized by the Enugu state ministry of water resources in collaboration with the federal ministry of water resources was officially flagged off by the state governor Ifeanyi Ugwuany in Enugu, represented by his SPA on water resources Anthony Dubem Onyia.
He appreciated the youth volunteers of about 1700 for the 17 LGAs, in the state for their time in the next three months in mobilizing and sensitizing the people on the need for hand washing and hygiene to avoid water born disease and open defecation .
Also the representative of the minister of water resources Suleiman Adamu, Ayabaku Ugbala chief sanitation officer from the federal ministry of water resources, said that the youth volunteers program was to build the capacity of the youths so that they can go down to communities and local government areas and talk to them about the need to end open defecation in Nigeria and also to talk to them about proper hand washing, hygiene, to cut down the out break of most of these water born disease by 50%. Including COVID-19.
“So by this we are hoping that we will be able to drastically reduce by the youths going to our communities going to our Local government sensitizing them, we Will be able to cut down incidences of out break of diseases”
She also said that at the moment Nigeria is the number one globally in open defecation hence Wash was declared state of emergency by federal government in2018 and the outcome is the campaign to end open defecation by 2025.
According to the UNICEF wash manager, the program, is aimed at engaging youths as hygiene ambassadors that would scale up sanitation and hygiene in the state,pointing out that both the state and federal government had embarked on making the country open Defecation Free by 2025.
Presently Nigeria has the highest open defecation record globally where about 46 million people defecate in open becomes a challenge of a very tall order so UNICEF wants a situation to improve the health and education for children, women and entire community.
The UNICEF wash manager said that the most important thing in the context of the days event was “partnering with the adolescents and young people as change agents can be a powerful strategy to accelerated results relating to the provision of water , sanitation and hygiene services “. She said that young people work with hope and confidence, inspired by their passion, dreams and vision of a better future.
She said “If youths are engaged in the design and implementation of an intervention, they will contributes to more relevant strategies as they are the experts of issues affecting their own lives” explaining that although youths are heavily and directly affected by issues of WASH, many are marginalised from political processes and excluded from participating in decisions that affect their lives.
The permanent secretary Enugu state ministry of water resources Ada John Nwaonye said that youth volunteers program is one of the interventions to bring to minimum the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
She said that Enugu state governor Ugwuanyi is WASH friendly and would be ever ready to ensure that Enugu state ranks first to end open defecation by 2025.