Aguata is a local government area in Anambra State ,where residents resort to streams and ponds for their regular supply of water while the urban dwellers rely on private boreholes dug mostly under no supervision thereby exposing the people to the hazards of drinking acidic water.
But all that soon change with the UNICEF/EU Water Supply and Sanitation , WASH project ,
The goal of the WASH programme is to contribute to an improvement in the number of people benefiting from improved water and sanitation facilities.
This is aligned with the National Rural Water Sanitation Strategic Framework as approved by the National Water Council and Millennium Development Goal 7 on environmental sustainability, in particular the reduction by half of the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
The WASH programme, as in other UNICEF supported programmes, is building the capacity of partners. The programme advocates for the establishment of dedicated Rural Water Supply and Sanitation institutions for service delivery and community mobilisation, monitoring and planning of programme at State and Local Government levels.
The capacity of the State and Local Government Area (LGA) agencies has been strengthened to observe due processes in applying standard contracting procedures for service delivery.
Before now Aguata community has had the challenge of potable drinking water. However, recent interventions by UNICEF, EU and other key partners have helped to reduce cases of illnesses especially water borne diseases.
Mr. Ike Christian is the secretary to the wash com unit a projected cited by the UNICEF and the EU in the community.
Mr Christian in an interview with the media said the project took off February and since then the project had been completed and the community has started making use of the water.
“The water so far is running very well and we haven’t had problems and the community are happy they are making use of the water and the wash com committee are trying to see that the project is in order and nobody destroys the pipe or the tap.”
And when our children want to go to school they have to get up around 5.am or 4.am to fetch water they need. So before the arrival of this project, the children would have to go far to fetch water before they go to school but the impact now is that they don’t go far again to get water and they don’t go late to school because we have particular time we open the taps for them when they all return from school.”
“We make sure we check them and we also check the collection of water that’s is transporting and storing it in their various homes.
One of the challenges however is the issue of security,theft of parts e.g Generator, solar devices, cables, etc in some water schemes are usual occurrences,
“Yes we employed some security men who are always here at night to make sure that the structures are not vandalized.”he said.”
According to him the community used to provide surface tanks or wells ,while some travel far to collect water before the project kick started
“We have about three thousand people who live in the community here and we do not have any form of running water here we go to neighboring community to get water and to get there we used almost an hour to get water.”
On how they maintain the project he said” We opened a bank account where the monies would be collected and distributed amongst the group, so in case of a breakdown we would return to the money collected and use the amount we need for the maintenance of the project.”
” We are very grateful to the EU and UNICEF who made this project possible”he added.
A visit to Anwuli primary school,Ezenife Aguata community local government ,.one of the intervening schools where the headmistress of Anwuli primary school, Mrs. Onyebuchi Francesca oversees the affairs of the school showed that with the support of UNICEF/EU water project school enrollment had improved .
She commended UNICEF/EU for providing the school with good clean water and toilet facilities integrated pump flush of five rooms each for both male and female totaling 10 toilets.
“I am very happy for what they have done for the school”Since the toilets have been built the enrollment of student to the school has increased tremendously because you can see that some parents are scared of contributing money for such but it has been done so we are very grateful and we are saying thank you.”
“Before the toilet was established we were facing a lot of dangers like for instance to go excrete in the bush and we use to have about five compartments of toilets and it was collapsing which was a death trap for the students and some were doing the method which we call cat method in which they dig the ground, excrete and cover it back but with this provision we would make use of it properly.”
“The student fetch water from their homes and bring to school every day from their homes before the toilet was built and the water provided and again lateness coming to school has changed because when they come to school with their water from home it deprives them from coming to school or coming on time as well.”
The project was co-funded by EU and Anambra state government at 70 percent EU/UNICEF and 30 percent the state government which was a public procurement concept and was awarded to the lowest bidder.”she added.
In August 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) unveiled a global strategy and action plan to integrate WASH with other public health interventions in order to accelerate elimination of NTDs.