Group Boasts of Reaching 27 Million People with Clean Water, Decent Toilets

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Since 1981, WaterAid says it has reached 27 million people with clean water, and another 27 million people with decent toilets.

WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. This international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people.

Recently, WaterAid Nigeria, the Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF), and the South Saharan Development Organisation (SSDO) joined the Enugu State Government in celebrating a 19-month project that brought sustainable clean water and sanitation to over 10, 000 residents in and around Nsukka, Ezeagu, Uzo-Uwani, Isiuzo and Enugu South local government areas under the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN).

RAIN, launched in 2009, is Coca-Cola’s response to the water crises communities across Africa are facing. It will reach 6 million people across Africa with improved access to safe water by 2020.

The ceremony marked the completion of a N300 million project that improved the lives of poor people in under-resourced communities in Enugu through the expansion of access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services; which also promoted income generating businesses for women, girls and youth.

In spite of the slow progress nationally, Enugu’s WASH access rates is still low, especially in the face of rapid population growth and increasing urbanisation.

Recent data shows that only 38% of the state’s population has access to decent sanitation, with 40% still defecating in the open.

About 28% of the population is without access to basic water supply services, relying on contaminated streams and rivers, unlined and unprotected wells to meet their needs.

To help address some of these challenges, one motorised water scheme was constructed in Umuabor in Nsukka Local Government Area; five new boreholes equipped with hand pumps were constructed at Ugwuaji community, Enugu South Local Government Area; 11 boreholes were rehabilitated with hand pumps in Isi-Uzo, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Areas.

One solar powered motorised borehole was rehabilitated in Ezeagu Local Government Area. These infrastructures were followed with the formation and training of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committees (WASHCOMS) and Water Consumers Associations (WCAS) in host communities, which economically empowered members, 50 of whom were women and youth, in borehole hand pump repairs.

“WaterAid is proud to have been part of this project and the partnership with the Coca-Cola Foundation to transform the lives of the poorest and most marginalised through improved access to sustainable clean water and sanitation.

‘’Access to water, sanitation and hygiene services are fundamental to improving lives, health, livelihoods, gender equality, education outcomes and for driving economic and sustainable development.

‘’Now, more than ever, the basic human rights to these essential services must be upheld, with particular attention given to the poorest, most vulnerable and marginalised segments of the population who are most vulnerable to infectious diseases such as COVID-19. We must ensure we leave no one behind”, says WaterAid Nigeria Country Director, Evelyn Mere.

Mere further stated that she was delighted that the project had delivered on its objectives of providing over 10, 000 residents with clean water and sanitation as well as stimulating grassroots economic empowerment.

During the ceremony, the project was officially handed over to the state government.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Water Resources, Anthony Onyia Jr, said “the state Ministry of Water Resources and by extension, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, appreciates the Coca-Cola Foundation’s flagship initiative and WaterAid for this project.

‘’The establishment of the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) in communities has put us on the right track to ensuring sustainable and inclusive sanitation for everyone.

‘’The selection and training of sanitation business owners, door to door agents and scheme operators has also economically benefitted residents while expanding access to clean water and sanitation.’’

He then assured that the state ministry was committed to ensuring sustainable use and maintenance of the water schemes to the benefit of the host communities.

On Coca Cola’s global commitment under its Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN),  its Director, Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, said:“RAIN is a flagship community programme contributing to helping Africa achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals on clean water and sanitation access (SDG 6).

‘’RAIN would have improved the lives of 6 million people in Nigeria and across Africa by the end of 2020. We are excited to be part of this and several partnership opportunities to deliver on this ambitious 10-year goal.

‘’At Coca-Cola, we believe access to sustainable water and sanitation is one of the hallmarks of community development and one that catalyzes sustainable enterprise development. The imperative of health and wellness through improved hygiene cannot be over-emphasized in the era of COVID-19 pandemic. We are hopeful that these facilities will sustainably enhance the health and wellness of the beneficiary communities.”

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