More than 140 communities have commended the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, for its interventions to improve sanitation and hygiene in Cross River State.
The communities, mostly located in Boki Local Government Area, in the central district of Cross River State participated in European Union/UNICEF WASH – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programme, which commenced in 2012.
At a certification ceremony organised by UNICEF in Okundi, Boki area, head of the local government administration, Mr. Daniel Ochui remarked “we thank EU and UNICEF for selecting Boki local government area to implement the WASH programme. This programme has added life, light, value, worth, dignity and wellbeing to the people”.
Ochui disclosed that in other to sustain sanitation and hygiene amongst the people, the Council has enacted a bye-Law to end Open Defecation, noting that another 90 successful villages would be verified and confirmed by June 29, 2017.
The WASH Specialist, UNICEF, Enugu, Amos Kudzala congratulated the Cross River State government and citizens, including the sector players for successes recorded at the various participating communities.
He noted that eliminating Open Defecation, OD, which was the focus of its programmes, has a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of the people.
Kudzala urged the people to adopt measures to sustain the OD free status and achieve total sanitation.
“I commend the people and government for the strides achieved. We are happy to see that the communities, through the establishment of smaller implementing units known as WASHCOM, were able to imbibe dignified values.”
“I want to encourage everyone, especially the implementing units, to adopt measures to sustain all your achievements in the area of sanitation and hygiene,” Kudzala stated.
The Specialist hinted that based on a World Bank report, “Nigeria still looses 445 billion naira annually due to poor sanitation, while OD costs the country 1 billion US Dollars every year as at 2010 based on a World Bank report”.
While pointing out that the most difficult task is to change human behaviour, he commended the federation of WASHCOM and the various WASHCOM units for the continued commitment to improve the lives of people, especially women and children in the locality.
In a remark, Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade lauded EU/UNICEF for adopting best practices and working strategies that have improved hygiene and sanitation in rural communities of the State.
Governor Ayade further commended the 98 communities in Boki local government area that were verified and certificated Open Defection Free as well as the 46 previously celebrated in 2012.
The Governor, who was represented by the Director-General of the Cross River Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, RUWATSSA, Mr. Ita Weir-Ikpeme noted that, “the EU/UNICEF intervention in WASH, in addition to other state government improved Primary Health Care, are truly changing unhealthy situations in our communities”.
“This programme has also contributed to a reasonable reduction in maternal and child mortality arising from unsanitary environment. I also appreciate the efforts of RUWATSSA and the various WASHCOM units across the State”.
A Sanitation Ambassador, Mrs. Gloria Monn urged WASHCOM to sustain sensitisation efforts on the best practices to attaining total hygiene and sanitation in all the communities, particularly, among members and visitors alike.