The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has identified Bauchi as a leading state in the implementation of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) related interventions in the country.
Mr Tushar Rane, UNICEF’s Chief of Field Office, Bauchi, stated this at a news conference organised to commemorate the 2021 Global Hand Washing Day (GHWD), on Friday in Bauchi.
The theme for this year is: “Our Future is at Hand; Let’s Move Forward Together.”
Rene, represented by Mr Amose Kudzala, UNICEF’s WASH Specialist, said that six local government areas of the state had attained the Open Defecation Free (ODF) status.
“Bauchi is a leading state in the implementation of WASH related interventions in Nigeria.
“Dass and Warji, are one of the first to attain and sustain ODF status while four other LGAs have achieved similar feat,” he said.
He listed the councils to include Toro, Bauchi, Katagum and Zaki, adding that they needed the state government support to achieve similar results before the end of the year.
According to him, the UN agency will continue to work with the state government, development partners and other organisations to ensure the fulfillment of the rights of children and women.
In his remarks, Alhaji Ahmad Jalam, the state Commissioner for Water Resources, said the state government had prioritised WASH in its policy.
Jalam said that the state had recorded significant progress in enhancing access to safe water supply and sanitation.
He, however, said that lack of toilets and handwashing facilities in homes and schools were negatively affecting the gains made in public health.
“Disparities in public health status and wellbeing is very clear between the over 6,000 ODF communities in the state, especially in Dass, Warji, Gamawa, Bogoro, Shira and Ganjuwa that are LGA-Wide ODF.
“To save lives and reduce the spread of preventable diseases, it is vital that we combine our expertise in technology and communication to raise awareness, promote safe sanitation and hygiene practices.
“Such practices include construction, usage and management of toilets in communities and handwashing with soap, under clean running water before we eat and after going to toilets among others, so as to support the government’s efforts at improving public health,” he said.
The Commissioner stressed the need for collective efforts to support government’s drive towards achieving ODF in communities across the state.
This, he said, is critical towards reducing the burden of WASH related diseases, improve health status, wellbeing and productivity of the people.
Also speaking, Mr Garba Magaji, Permanent Secretary, Bauchi State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), said that hand washing practices played vital role to stem spread of COVID-19 pandemic globally.
He added that a lot of diseases could be prevented through hand washing with clean water and soap.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was organised in collaboration between the UNICEF, Bauchi State Government, WaterAid and African Development Bank (AfDB) Group.
Meanwhile, the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), under the auspices of Newtwork Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN), has described WASH, as a fundamental right to all citizens.
Mr Jinjiri Garba, the CSOs Lead Team, said this at a news conference as part of activities to mark 2021 Global Handwashing Day in Bauchi.
“Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and, therefore, a basic human right.
“Contaminated water jeopardises both the physical and social health of the people. It is an affront to human dignity.
“The right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water, and it must be enjoyed without discrimination equally by women and men.” he said.
He decried the prevalence of cholera disease in the state and stressed the need for practical measures to enhance the provision of sustainable WASH services.
More so, Dr Evelyn Mere, Country Director, WaterAid Nigeria, said: “Hand washing promotion is proven to be cost-effective. Investments in health, education, and improved water supply are all jeopardised if hand washing with soap is not included in the overall plan.
“Governments should not wait for another crisis to hit the nation before investing wisely in the health and wellbeing of the people and the resilience of its economy,” she said.
On his part, Claire Seaward, WaterAid’s Global Campaign Director, also advised government at all levels to promote behaviour change and set out clear roadmaps for achieving hand hygiene for everyone by 2030.
“Partnerships with businesses will be crucial to strengthening supply chains for hygiene products and services.
“Donors need to rapidly increase their financial support in low and middle income countries, recognising the critical role that hand hygiene has in pandemic preparedness and addressing antimicrobial resistance.” (NAN)