The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF) through their Water and Development Alliance (WADA) global partnership have commissioned a project to improve access to safe water and sanitation services for more than 44,800 persons in Abia and Cross River States in southern Nigeria.
The projects were implemented over a two-year period by Partners for Development (PfD) and they, working closely with the state Rural Water Agencies (RUWASSA) and four selected Local Government Areas (LGAs), strengthened the capacity of water, sanitation and hygiene committees (WASHCOMs), providing new and improved water and sanitation facilities in 58 communities.
Under the USAID and Coca-Cola partnership, 40 boreholes have been drilled and 31 sanitation facilities constructed across 34 locations in the two states. In addition, sanitation facilities in 19 schools and 7 health centers have been upgraded and is expected to significantly improve the learning environment for pupils in the locality.
According to the JMP/WHO, 59.5 million (33%) Nigerians lack access to safe water and over 121 million (67%) Nigerians lack access to adequate sanitation. (Source: https://washdata.org/data) PfD worked collaboratively with local and state government partners to make transformative impacts across communities in Cross River and Abia. Through social dialogue and WASH sensitization meetings at the community level, PfD helped members identify various gaps to effective WASH management, such as a lack of community structures to manage WASH services. With the formation and strengthening of community WASHCOMs, comprised of elected members of each community, communities realized their capacity to implement effective and safe WASH practices as well as properly maintain WASH infrastructure. A focus on engaging all stakeholders and members of the community on WASH issues while improving and expanding water and sanitation services in these communities shall produce sustainable improvements in public health.
During the commissioning event, USAID Mission Director Stephen Haykin commented on the importance of investing in WASH services. “Investment in water, sanitation and hygiene is extremely important. This is why we partner [with] Coca-Cola and a number of local communities, 4 LGAs in 2 states to provide improved water services to more than 50,000 individuals and sanitation to them…We believe maintaining these facilities will go a long way to contribute to the health and economic well-being and development of your communities.”
Representing Mr. Bhupendra Suri, Managing Director of Coca-Cola Nigeria Ltd, the Company’s Public Affairs and Communications Manager, Mrs. Nwamaka Onyemelukwe remarked, “Critical challenges relating to water and sanitation require collective and collaborative action. We are excited that through our partnership with USAID, the local state governments and Partners for Development, we have been able to make a positive difference in these communities. We will continue to partner with likeminded organizations to find effective solutions to clean water and sanitation access.”
The Deputy Governor of Abia state, Mr. Ude Okochuwu, also delivered the following remarks, “We are delighted to have Coca-Cola and USAID providing water to our people especially in areas within the state where there are water challenges. I want to assure you that as a government, we will assist your organizations in providing the needed manpower as well as the enabling environment to ensure that similar initiatives such as these succeed in Abia state.”