As WaterAid launches ‘Scale-Up Hygiene Project’
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
A nongovernmental organization, Heineken Africa Foundation, on Friday, pledged N284 million support for WaterAid Nigeria in the fight against the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, and other hygiene-related issues at the WaterAid Nigeria’s launch of ‘Scale-Up Hygiene Project’ via webinar.
The pledge was made in a keynote speech by the Corporate Affairs Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Sade Morgan.
Morgan also acknowledged that in Nigeria about 30 per cent of the population, which is 60 million people lack access to clean water.
The launch of the Scale-Up Hygiene project is being implemented by WaterAid with support from the Heineken Africa Foundation.
Morgan said: “I am sure we are all aware that COVID-19, like most other infectious diseases, can be drastically reduced with basic hygiene behaviors such as handwashing with soap and water.
“Yet, millions of people do not have access to clean water. In Nigeria, that estimate is put at about 30% of our population (or 60 million people) who lack access to clean water.”
She also commended the doggedness and humanitarian effort made by WaterAid Nigeria over the years in the lives of Nigerians, especially in water access, sanitation, and hygiene, which the Foundation’s pledged to facilitate what WaterAid Nigeria is already doing in order to change the narrative.
She said: “This is why the Heineken Africa Foundation decided to focus on this issue, firstly by selecting the most reliable partners to work with us towards changing this narrative.
“Over the years, WaterAid has built strong expertise in water access, sanitation, and hygiene. This is why the Heineken Africa Foundation is proud to partner with them on this project.
“In addition, we recognize that we needed to commit the necessary funds to ensure that the project succeeds. So in the fight against COVID-19, the Heineken Africa Foundation has pledged 622 000 Euros (or N284 million) to support WaterAid Nigeria.
“This donation will allow the organization to install over 1,000 handwashing stations in healthcare facilities and other public places, starting with 6 States in the North, West, and East. Hygiene product packs will be distributed to 12,000 households and 6,000 people with disabilities while a large-scale hygiene campaign will be shown on the media.
“This contribution is separate from the N600 million which Nigerian Breweries Plc has donated to the Federal and State Government Task Forces Against Covid-19, which comprises of monetary donations and relief materials.”
She also expressed confidence and support for Nigeria’s health care system and general well-being.
“As firm believers and supporters of Nigeria, we look forward to celebrating the success stories that will arise from this initiative and commit to providing all the needed support to make it an unqualified success”, she said.
Also speaking was the Country Director, WaterAid Nigeria, Evelyn Mere, expressed gratitude for the support by Heineken African Foundation, and said it will help WaterAid scale-up her COVID-19 emergency response to help vulnerable communities protect themselves against the spread of the disease.
Mere said, “WaterAid is delighted to be partnering with the Heineken Africa Foundation to transform lives through access to good hygiene and we hope that it is the beginning of a sustained partnership.
“We commend the Foundation’s willingness and commitment to stick to this mission today, despite the global uncertainty affecting businesses in every industry.
“We acknowledge the Management and Staff of the Nigerian Breweries Plc, the Heineken subsidiary in Nigeria, for their support in making this official launch a reality.
“We are optimistic that this collaboration will be sustained throughout the implementation of this project and that we will subsequently be able to do more together for our people and nation.
“This N284,000,000 (€622,000) grant from the Heineken Africa Foundation will help WaterAid scale-up her COVID-19 emergency response to help vulnerable communities protect themselves against the spread of the disease.
“It is designed to strengthen ongoing efforts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus disease in Nigeria by supporting national and state governments to promote hygiene practices and hygiene behaviour change on a massive scale.”
She also stated that “COVID-19 is an unprecedented global crisis that continues to rapidly spread around the world with over 50,000 confirmed cases to date in Nigeria.
“With the absence of an approved vaccine to tackle the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) has consistently recommended handwashing with soap and clean water, together with physical distancing and other key hygiene behaviours, as crucial to stopping the spread of the virus.”
According to the WaterAid Nigeria boss, tackling COVID-19 requires a comprehensive approach including preventive, protective, and curative interventions.
“As leading experts in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), it is WaterAid’s moral duty to play a pivotal role in preventing the spread of COVID-19, by focusing on one of our key areas of expertise – hygiene promotion. Hygiene promotion, and particularly handwashing with soap and water, has been identified as the first line of defense against COVID-19.
“More than 1,000 much-needed handwashing facilities will be installed in select locations and other busy public places in Nigeria; hygiene product packs will be distributed to 12,000 households and 6,000 vulnerable persons, including those living with disabilities and a large-scale hygiene campaign will also be carried out on TV, radio, and billboards”, she stated.