|© UNICEF Nigeria/2005/Oshadipe|
|A young girl drinks clean water from a pump installed by UNICEF at her school in Bauchi State, Nigeria.|
By Christine Jaulmes
ABUJA, Nigeria, 9 September 2005 – A new donation of €33.3 million (about $41.4 million) from the European Commission for a UNICEF water and sanitation project will help provide safe drinking water for 2.1 million people across 1,400 rural communities in Nigeria.
The funds, which will be made available over four years, amount to the largest donation ever from the EU to a UNICEF-assisted development programme. Communities which will benefit are located in the states of Abia, Cross River, Gombe, Kebbi, Osun and Plateau.
The project also supports hygiene education, improved sanitation and safe water supply in 120 schools, and aims to eradicate Guinea Worm disease in Nigeria.
“Water is key for children’s development,” says UNICEF Representative in Nigeria Ayalew Abai. “Diarrhoeal diseases continue to have a very high prevalence rate in the country and Guinea Worm disease has not yet been eradicated. Studies also show that water and sanitation in school contribute to higher enrolment, especially for girls.”
The UNICEF project is part of a larger EU-funded water and sanitation programme in urban centres, small towns and rural areas in the same six states.
The situation today
In Nigeria, only 60 per cent of households have access to improved drinking water sources (source: SOWC), while access to adequate sanitation facilities remains low. The poor situation with respect to water and sanitation contributes to high morbidity and mortality among children.
The lack of adequate water and sanitation in schools discourages enrolment; pupils often have to make do with poor facilities. In the average primary school, there is only one toilet for every 600 pupils.
Since 2002, UNICEF’s Integrated Growth and Development Programme in Nigeria has created about 4,000 new safe water resources across the country, providing safe water for more than 1 million people. The Programme was implemented in collaboration with the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agencies.
Teacher training and hygiene education activities in primary schools and communities help promote safe health habits. More than 200 school environmental clubs have been created across the country.
Yet with an estimated population of 125 million people, Nigeria still needs more support. The new funding from the European Union will allow UNICEF to expand its programmes, especially in rural areas, giving thousands of children a healthier start in life and a better school environment.