The European Union (EU) has allocated 14.25 million euros to the a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector in Nigeria through UNICEF for the improvement of the sector, a UNICEF official has said.
Mr Kanan Nadar, the UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Chief made this known in an interview withe the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
Nadar said that the amount was allocated to the sector as part of the EU support to improve sanitation in the country.
He said that the money would be used to execute projects in three states — Plateau, Adamawa and Ekiti — because they were rated lower than 30 per cent in sanitation coverage.
“14.25 million euro was the specific allocation for the WASH sector and looking at three states which are Plateau, Ekiti and Adamawa.
“The EU support to the Nigeria WASH sector had always been there for sometime and some of these states like Plateau, Ekiti and Adamawa have been part of the support.
“If you look at Plateau and Ekiti, their coverage for water and sanitation together is less than 20 per cent; for Adamawa it’s about 27.2 per cent.
“If you look at sanitation, except for Adamawa which is 36 per cent, others are less hitting 26.9 per cent, which is less than the average of 31 per cent.”
According to him, the project is at the inception stage currently, which is establishing baseline and assisting local government areas in the states to double their investment plan.
He noted that the present stage would take about one year, adding that the project would run for five years for the desired goal to be achieved.
Nadar told NAN that the aim of the project was to achieve complete Open Defecation Free status in these states and to provide adequate access to water supply.
He said that the EU was also supporting 14 other states in the country through UNICEF, to ensure total sanitation coverage and adequate access to good water supply.
The WASH chief noted that Nigeria accounted for a significant portion the high mortality rate of children under the age of five in Africa.
He identified the major cause of the high mortality rate as inadequate hygiene management and the lack of access to potable water, resulting to water-borne diseases.
“In Africa, mortality rate of children under the age of five is significantly high unlike in Asia, where it has drastically reduced since 1990.
“And Nigeria is a big contributor to this burden; So for us at UNICEF, it is a burden because WASH is one of the underlining causes for this high under five mortality rate.”
He added that the absence of Water Sanitation and Hygiene Departments in many local government areas in the country constituted a major challenge to UNICEF’s work.