Dr. Chris Williams, the Executive Director of Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) visited Nigeria in February, 2017. The aim of the this visit was to strengthen WSSCC’s engagement with government and to ensure government’s commitment at all levels to mobilise resources to improve water, sanitation and hygiene services in Nigeria towards achieving SDG 6.
While in Nigeria, Dr. Chris Williams in company of Priscilla Achakpa, WSSCC’s National Coordinator and Engr. Ebele Okeke, WSSCC’s WASH Ambassador and United Purpose’s team, one of the implementing partners of WSSCC held meetings with the Ministers of Water Resources, Finance, Women Affairs and Social Development, Deputy Governor of Benue State, Commissioners, Directors of Federal and State Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the private sector.
The meetings laid emphasis on strengthening systems, collaboration amongst key federal ministries especially Health, Education, Water Resources, Environment and Finance and with the civil society. Chris Williams during the meetings emphasized the need to beef up efforts in water and sanitation for 49 million Nigerians still practicing open defecation. This he said the government can do by clearly prioritizing, budgeting and providing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services both in public and private places. There is also a need, he said, to be toilets in schools clearly differentiated and designated for boys and girls with water and soap especially to enhance school attendance for girls who are menstruating and may drop out of school during their menstruating days due to lack of decent and private places to change.
The high point of these meetings were the commitments received from the Federal Government to provide the needed support to the Partnership for Expanded Water Supply and Hygiene (PEWASH), a national mechanism launched in 2016 as a strategy to reach all Nigerians with water, sanitation and hygiene services. Benue and Cross River states government also pledged to pay their counterpart funding to up-scale RUSHPIN (Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria) programme in Benue and Cross River States. RUSHPIN is being funded by WSSCC through the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF). Through RUSHPIN, Obanliku Local Goverment in Cross River State has become the first Local Government in Nigeria to attain Open Defecation Free (ODF) status.
The Federal Ministry of Water Resources also pledged to be holding twice a year, a coordination meeting with the Ministries of Health, Education, Finance, Women Affairs and Social Development and Ministry of Environment.