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The UNICEF staff association has donated medical equipment to a PHC in kano.

UNICEF: 25% of WASH Investments Lost Over Poor Maintenance

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has disclosed that 25 percent of its annual investments in Nigeria’s water and sanitation sector were compromised due to inadequate operation, poor maintenance and infrastructure dysfunction.

Jane Bevan, UNICEF’s chief of water (WASH), said this indicated a significant setback in addressing water and sanitation challenges.

She said a critical analysis of WASHNORM and the Sector Wide Sustainability Checks exposed the concerning trend.

Ms Bevan said UNICEF’s WASH Programme priorities for 2023 to 2027 include a focus on WASH sector financing, sustainability of infrastructure and services, capacity-building, and creating an enabling environment for WASH in institutions such as schools, among others.

She said emphasis would be placed on ending open defecation in Nigeria through the Clean Nigeria Campaign and addressing climate resilience in WASH efforts, cutting across all priority areas.

Ms Bevan stressed the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration for funding WASH initiatives in schools and primary healthcare centres, advocating for joint efforts between the education, health, water and sanitation ministries.

The UNICEF official outlined strategies for capacity-building and creating an enabling environment for WASH in institutions, such as developing scalable models to operate and maintain WASH facilities and implementing standardised policies and guidelines.

She said this was to ensure comprehensive data for effective planning, adding that improving partnerships with the private sector would accelerate efforts to meet Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), as Nigeria currently falls off track.

She said that UNICEF would continue supporting the government in addressing sustainability factors identified by the sustainability check by strengthening climate resilience across all programme areas.

Olabode Fashoyi, deputy director of WASH Collaboration and Partnerships, Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, underscored the strategic focus on increasing sector financing and improving the sustainability of WASH services and systems.

He said targets achieved in 2023 include establishing WASH departments in 38 new LGAs and training 1,000 WASH committees for community awareness.

Looking ahead to 2024, Fashoyi outlined ongoing initiatives, such as implementing the water facility operation and maintenance strategy in Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe.

He said new guidelines for drinking water monitoring and surveillance have been launched.

Chizoma Opara, the national coordinator of the Clean Nigeria, Use The Toilet Campaign Programme, emphasised the need for states to intensify efforts in achieving the National Open Defecation Free roadmap.

She pointed out that some states, including Enugu and Abia, have shown progress by adopting by-laws and roadmaps.

Expressing her concern, she highlighted that only 117 out of 774 LGAs are open defecation-free and stressed the urgency of operational funding for effective monitoring, stating that the 2025 target is approaching rapidly.