By: Joy Odor/Abuja
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has joined Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to formalize a new partnership with Delta State to improve the management and delivery of Water and Sanitation (WASH) services to help people live healthier lives through reliable access to clean water.
A Memorandum of Understanding signed February 5 in the state capital outlines commitments between USAID and Delta State to jointly develop a professionally managed, commercially oriented, and accountable state Water Board. This will be done by improving the Water Board’s financial viability, and strengthening policy, institutional, and regulatory frameworks for better WASH service delivery.
“This essential partnership between the American people and the people of Delta State will help improve administration of water and sanitation services in Nigeria,” said Colin Dreizin, USAID’s Director of the Office of Economic Growth and the Environment at the signing. “Access to a reliable and well managed water supply is critical to the health and economic potential of any community.”
Through the $60.4 million ‘Effective Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Services” (E-WASH) activity, USAID will support Delta and other states to increase access to clean water and reduce water borne diseases by strengthening their Water Boards’ capacity to make solid investment decisions, improve billing and collection systems, and ensure greater responsiveness to customer concerns.
Over four years, E-WASH will spur the mobilization of an additional $50 million from public and private sources. It will also provide access to piped clean water to at least 500,000 households. Other states participating in E-WASH include Abia, Imo, Niger, Sokoto and Taraba.
E-WASH is one component of a wider USAID effort to foster closer coordination with federal and state government agencies to advance broad-based economic growth and resilience in Nigeria through improved WASH services.
According to the United Nations, 57 million Nigerians lack access to safe drinking water, and each year, water-borne illnesses kill around one million children under five. While overall access to improved water has increased nationally in recent years, access to piped water and improved sanitation has decreased markedly in many urban areas.