The European Union (EU) and UNICEF have signed a five-year contribution agreement for a Rural Water and Sanitation Project in Plateau, Ekiti and Adamawa States worth €14.75 million (about N3 billion) as well as a four-year contribution agreement worth €30 million (about N6.75 billion) to scale up improvement in Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Kebbi and Adamawa states.
This is a follow up to the corresponding Financing Agreements signed on 30 April 2013 between the Government of Nigeria and European Union to strengthen their collaborative partnership and development agenda.
The project component of the Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Project, Phase III (WSSSRP III) implemented by UNICEF is designed to strengthen the capacity of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) sector institutions in Adamawa, Plateau and Ekiti States to support sector governance and increased access to improved and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services delivery in the rural communities in the three States.
The overall objective of the health project is to significantly improve the health status of women and children through an improved and sustainable primary health care delivery system in Kebbi and Adamawa states.
In Nigeria 2,100 Children under the age of five years and 75 pregnant women die every day, from easily preventable diseases. Main causes of deaths for children under five are new-born diseases, malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. Nigeria contributes about 10 per cent of global burden of maternal deaths. Under-nutrition and malnutrition are major causes of childhood morbidity. It is estimated that 24 per cent of children under five (U5) years of age are underweight and 36 per cent of children are estimated to be stunted (MICS 2011).
In water and sanitation, according to the 2011 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey report, over 118 million Nigerians lacked access to improved sanitation while another 70 million inhabitants did not have access to safe water in 2011. Nearly 49 million people were estimated to resort to open defecation in 2011. In sub Saharan Africa, one out of five people who use un-improved sanitation facility lives in Nigeria. The absolute number of unserved people varies from state to state while the level of non-functioning water supply systems in the rural areas is estimated to be about 40 per cent in some states.
In Kebbi and Adamawa states, 1.5 million children and 380,000 pregnant women are to benefit directly from the health project annually. However, the overall population of more than 7.6 million will benefit indirectly from the project. The water and sanitation project will provide access to water supply for half a million rural people and 80 per cent of the population in the rural areas of the participating local government areas will also have access to improved means of excreta disposal and proper hygiene behaviour.
European Union has supported the Nigerian Government’s efforts in Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme (WSSSRP) which has built strong institutions and systems for effective and sustainable services delivery in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector. The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme of WSSSRP-I and Support to Reforming Institutions (SRIP II) were concluded in July 2011 and December 2012 respectively. So far, with the completion of two projects about 2 million additional people have access to improved source of water and basic sanitation facilities.
For the water and sanitation project the EU support will cover 70 per cent of the total investment cost for construction or rehabilitation of water supply facilities. The State and Local Governments, and the beneficiary communities will provide 30 per cent of the cost in line with the National Policy on Water Supply and Sanitation.
UNICEF Country Representative said that “these projects in health, water and sanitation will significantly enhance Nigeria’s chances of meeting the water, sanitation and health related MDGs”.The EU and UNICEF are committed to helping Nigeria revitalise the MNCH and WASH services in Nigeria”.
A statement from EU office in Abuja stated that Mr Pierre Philippe, Head of Operations at the EU Delegation to Nigeria, who signed on behalf of EU, remarked that EU was investing about €200 million (about N40 billion) in the Nigeria water and sanitation sector for the period 2012 to 2017. He explained that the amount represented the largest EU investment in the sector outside Europe. He pledged the continued support of the EU in the fight against poverty and in maintenance of peace in Nigeria.