Small town water schemes delivered in Enugu and Jigawa States

WaterAid Nigeria, in collaboration with the European Union and the Government of Enugu State, has completed and handed over 16 small town water schemes to communities in Enugu and Jigawa States.

6 Jun 2012

The small town water schemes are part the WaterAid/European Union Water Facility project in Nigeria which was implemented to, amongst other things, ensure a demand driven approach and increase by 75% and 50% respectively access to water and sanitation for the inhabitants of these small towns.

The official commissioning and handing-over events took place on 3 May 2012 in Gakori, Kaugama, local government area of Jigawa State, and on 6 June 2012 in Ugwunoda, Igbo Etiti local government area of Enugu State.

The colourful ceremonies brought together Government officials, traditional leaders, Civil Society Organisations, implementing partners, community members and members of the press.The occasion was also an opportunity for WaterAid and both state governments to celebrate the achievement of open defecation free (ODF) status in 13 communities collectively.

Community members who voluntarily serve as peer educators and campaigners for sanitation and hygiene in their communities were established as Voluntary Hygiene Promoters (VHP) and Natural Leaders and supported by the project to assist their communities in becoming open defecation free through the community led total sanitation process, where communities take ownership of the project themselves.

Government representatives at both events expressed their State governments' pleasure at the handover of the schemes to the communities, stressing their government's commitment to intensifying efforts in addressing the challenges of the WASH sector by continuing to work with development partners such as WaterAid and the European Union.

The WaterAid team at both events was led by the Country Representative, Dr Michael Ojo, who noted that WaterAid's partnership with both Enugu and Jigawa State governments is focused on filling the critical gap in WASH services delivery and ensuring that such services have local ownership and are sustainable.

Water Consumer Associations (WCA's) were established in benefitting communities to ensure sustainability of the projects. These Associations are grassroots management structures for the water schemes and, with support from WaterAid and the States, have been empowered to effectively manage and maintain the water schemes. In Jigawa, the State Government replicated the Water Consumer Associations (WCA) structure to 102 schemes – showing clearly that WaterAid structures are models that can be replicated.

Community members as well as local government officials in both states spoke of the indescribable relief that the water projects have provided to communities who have suffered from acute water scarcity for many years. Before these water projects were constructed in Ugwunoda in Enugu State, for instance, people from Ugwunoda either trekked all the way to Adada River to fetch water – a journey of over seven miles – or paid 400 Naira (approximately £1.60) for a drum of water from tanker drivers. The elderly and persons living with disabilities who could not trek the long distance found it very difficult and barely managed to have a bath once in a week.

In this second phase of the project, the small town water schemes that have been delivered under the WaterAid/European Union project have contributed immensely to improving access to water to well over 187,100 mostly poor beneficiaries in the selected small towns. The construction of Ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) latrines has resulted in access to improved sanitation for about 14,000 people.

WatarAid’s Country Representative, Michael Ojo, expressed appreciation at the commitment of both state governments and the support of the people of the small towns to ensuring the smooth delivery of these water schemes. He especially commended the state and local governments that had paid their counterpart funds; urging other partner local governments to honour their counterpart obligation to the programme.

The WaterAid/European Union Water Facility Project in Enugu and Jigawa was launched by WaterAid in Nigeria with the support of the European Union Commission in 2007. The project, dubbed: "Closing the gap: Improving water supply and sanitation provision in Small Towns in Nigeria", aims to promote a coordinated, sustainable and cost effective approach to accelerating the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for water and sanitation in rapidly emerging small towns in Nigeria.