Excitement In Anambra, As UNICEF Makes Water Available To Local Communities
From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
In several communities of Aguata and Anambra East Local Government, Anambra State, there is a new lease of life for the people in the area of water supply and sanitation courtesy of the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.
Though Anambra State is surrounded by water as a result of the River Niger and the Omambala River, access to portable water supply has been a recurring issue in most communities as a result of the collapse of the Anambra State Water Corporation Board.
Residents in rural areas 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 hope was not lost not with the intervention of the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF , an agency that has been executing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, projects for the past 10 years in the state.
Though the state is thickly populated with 179 communities presently excluding the millions of residents in many urban areas of Onitsha, Awka, Ekwulobia and Nnewi, UNICEF has been doing a lot to bridge the gap in water supply and sanitation in many communities thereby helping such people to surmount water-borne diseases.
During a recent media monitoring and documentation of UNICEF Interventions in Anambra State, it was commendation galore for UNICEF when the team visited some communities in Aguata and Anambra East local council areas.
On enquiry, the reporter gathered that so far, UNICEF has implemented 97 water projects, as well as hand washing schemes in all primary schools and selected Primary Health Centers, PHC, in the two local government areas.
About 50 water projects were executed in Aguata, while 47 were executed in Anambra East, just as all pupils in primary schools in the areas have become familiar with measures on how to avoid communicable diseases through proper hand washing at all times.
Those who spoke to the media team in the two local government areas were very ecstatic as they considered themselves so lucky to have been selected by UNICEF among the beneficiaries of the WASH projects.
Transition Committee Chairman of Anambra East Local Governemnt Area, Mr. Pius Ifeadi said the WASH projects have assisted the people of the local government immensely, recalling that water was one of the greatest problems facing the area.
According to him, UNICEF promised that more projects would be executed in the local government this year and hoped that the world body would fulfill the promise.
Chairman of Amumu village, Nsugbe, one of the communities in the council area also expressed gratitude to UNICEF for the gigantic water project in the area, but pleaded that the scheme be extended to other villages that were far from the site of the borehole.
He explained that the village had already set aside its 5% counterpart fund for additional project, signifying their readiness to have another water scheme in the area.
At the Pioneer Primary School, Aguleri, the headmistress, Mrs. Felicia Amakom said the lifestyle of the pupils had changed for the better since UNICEF provided the school with a borehole, toilet facilities and hand washing facilities, adding that following consistent training, the pupils routinely practise hand washing to avoid contracting communicable diseases.
UNICEF consultant in Anambra East Local Government Area, Mrs. Amina Ominu said the WASH programme was making a great impact, adding that the two local government areas where UNICEF was executing the projects had stood out among others in terms of observance of hygiene. She said that during the global hand washing competition in which all schools in the state participated, Anambra East came first and second, while Aguata came third, which, she observed, was an indication that WASH project was making a great impact in the two UNICEF LGAs.
Touring Aguata LGA, the team inspected various water projects running clean water and serving the water and sanitation needs of the people.
Chairman of Umuezealor community in Isuofia, Aguata, Chief Augustine Ifediba said they were going through difficult times getting water for their domestic use before the completion of the scheme last year.
“Our sons and daughters who returned for the Christmas and New Year celebrations were very happy to see that pipe- borne water had been provided in our community and we commend UNICEF for this wonderful gesture,” Ifediba said.
At Amihe, Umuchu community in Aguata LGA, the chairman of Amihe Development Union, Dr. Chibeze Obiorah said the water scheme executed by UNICEF in 2008 has been functioning without hitches as his people had made it a point of duty to ensure that the people did not go back to the era of water scarcity when they had to trek several kilometers in search of potable water.
To ensure regular supply of water from the scheme, the community’s Works Committee services solar power and the borehole at least three times every year with the tariff realised from the sale of the water to customers, who gladly pay the token to obtain clean water.
“The water scheme has been of great assistance to our community because our original source of water was very far. We reticulated the water to three community squares for easy accessibility and that is why we are pleading with UNICEF to provide us with more schemes to serve other villages in the area,” Obiorah said.
UNICEF consultant for Aguata, Mr. Obinna Ogbodo said each water project costs between N12 million and N15 million and commended the various communities for ensuring regular maintenance of the projects. According to him, four additional water schemes would be provided in the area this year, adding that Uga and Umuchu would get one each, while Igboukwu would get two. He also commended the Anambra State Government for the regular payment of its 30% counterpart fund which ensured that the projects were executed in record time.
The reporter gathered that following the successes recorded in the two local government areas by UNICEF, two others council areas, Idemili South and Nnewi North local government areas have been included in the execution of WASH programmes in the state this year.
Already training of teachers have commence in the area while arrangements for the establishment of Environmental Health Clubs in the public schools in the council areas have been concluded.
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