The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on state Governments to fast track the process of establishment of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) by law in Bayelsa and Delta and the upgrading of LGA WASH units to departments.
UNICEF WASH Specialist, Ms Martha Hokonya made the call at a two-day media dialogue on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) workshop organized for journalists by UNICEF, European Union and the ministry of information in Uyo,Akwa-Ibom state.
According to Ms Hokonya delays in release of counterpart funding by state governments and communities have significantly delayed implementation of the WASH project.
“Lack of commitment from LGA WASH Unit staff and incessant strike actions by LGA workers due to delay in payment of salaries”Poor operational support to RUWASSA’s and LGAs making it difficult for them to support projects.”
She said the objective of the project was to contribute to strengthening of social bonding and peace building among communities in the project states through local capacity building and provision of access to improved sources of safe drinking water and basic sanitation in ten self-selected Local Government Areas in the Project states. There are five key objectives under the project.
The UNICEF WASH Specialist said Community-led total sanitation approaches needed to be better adapted to different geographical areas especially for Riverine communities where there is a limited choice of latrine models for scale up of sanitation.
On his part UNICEF WASH Specialist, Mr Moustapha Niang noted that with good access to improved water supply in the Niger Delta region, with all the states apart from Bayelsa having values above the National average, there was a serious issue of groundwater contamination (either biological or chemical).
“Bayelsa is particularly plagued with iron and manganese contamination, and this brings about esthatic issues which can lead to rejection of the water in the area.”
He said there need constant monitoring of water quality to detect contamination, while encouraging the establishment of a water sanitation committee in all communities across the region.
“Prioritize the potential hazards and mitigate such hazards through the entire water chain to ensure that water reaching the consumer is safe and acceptable. Develop their community plan. Avoid for citing potable water source around nearby latrines and areas fertilized for agricultural purposes,” Nang said.
Addressing the media the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Political,Legislative Affairs and Water Resources, Mr Nse Edem said that the state government is providing new strategic policies that would ensure provision of potable water across the state.
He said with the release of the counterpart funds by the state government, 30 solar power, mini
water schemes and 24 sanitation facilities have been awarded to contractors.