By Gabriel Olawale
In recent times, there has been an increased need for improved access to safe water, adequate sanitation facilities and proper hygiene education as lack of these basic needs critically affects the health and productivity of the populace especially women and children.
According to the United Nations, about 57 million people lack access to safe drinking water in Nigeria, and each year, water-borne illnesses kill around one million Nigerian children under the age of five.
When access to potable water is limited or non-existent, affected population not only become predisposed to water-borne illnesses but productivity levels drop, resulting in reduced involvement in economic activities for women who use time meant for work to source for potable water while absenteeism and school dropout rates increase among young girls who would rather stay home because their schools are not adequately equipped with proper water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities.
Improved access to potable water which is crucial for the functioning of other WASH-related activities reduces the incidence of water-borne disease and also boosts the country’s economic growth.
In line with SDG 6 which is to ‘ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, HACEY Health Initiative with support from Aspired Coronation Trust Foundation launched the Clean Water Initiative project, aimed at improving access to potable water in rural and underserved communities.
The Initiative which is currently in its third year has provided boreholes to over 150,000 people in 42 communities across south-west Nigeria. The initiative has also trained women, girls and community leaders on WASH best practices and educated young girls on proper sanitation and hygiene practices.
While speaking with community leaders from selected communities, the Project Director, HACEY Health Initiative, Mr. Isaiah Owolabi expressed his excitement and enthusiasm for the commencement of the Clean Water Initiative project.
He highlighted the importance of improved access to potable water, adequate sanitation, and proper hygiene education, stating that, “everyone no matter what their realities are should have access to clean water. This is a crucial step in improving the living standard worldwide.
This year, we will reach 50,000 people in 20 communities in Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo state will be supported to enhance the health and productivity of its population by improving availability of potable water and hygiene information through the installation of boreholes and capacity building on WASH for women, children and community leaders.
Furthermore, the initiative would educate school children across selected states on proper hand hygiene habits”.
Mrs. Kudirat, an indigene of Foko Community, Ibadan Oyo State a beneficiary of the CWI project shares her story on the Clean Water Initiative. “I am a trader; I sell Akara at the local market. Lack of access to safe water has affected my business. The majority of sales are made early in the morning and this does not favor me because I have to go out early in the morning to fetch water for my household and the distance from my house to the general well is a bit far.
On getting to the market most days, other traders would have sold most of their goods and at the end of the day I would not make as much I would have if I had gotten to the market on time. I am grateful for this project because I would not only have access to safe water, I also would not have to walk a distance to get water and my business would no longer suffer”.
The Clean Water Initiative project aims to improve access to safe water, proper sanitation and hygiene practices as this would contribute to the reduction of waterborne disease and the challenges associated with getting potable water, especially for women and children.
HACEY Health Initiative works with communities, government institutions, private sector companies, civil society groups, and the media to design and implement sustainable interventions aimed at improving the health and productivity of vulnerable and underserved population and also creating a lasting impact for our beneficiaries.