Take ownership of $700million water, hygiene programme- Coordinator

State governments and their implementing agencies have been urged to show renewed commitment towards implementation of the Sustainable Urban, Rural Water Supply Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH) Programme, for the benefit of the people.

Engr. Abdulhamid Gwaram, SURWASH National Programme Coordinator, made this call at the Meeting on Environmental and Social Safeguard for the SURWASH programme in Abuja on Monday.

The Federal Government had received 700million dollars financing from the World Bank to ensure that all its people have access to sustainable and safely managed WASH services.

The Seven participating states are; Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Katsina, Kaduna and Plateau.

Gwaram said the innovative approach  through Program-for-Results (PforR), ensured that the focus was on results and impacting the lives of the people.

According to him, the major problem is the constant belief that programmes should be left to project offices alone, thereby reducing impact that would have been achieved.

“We are calling on states and implementing agencies to show more commitment by driving this programme.

“A lot of them rely so much on state project offices to do things, which is not what it’s supposed to be, they are  supposed to be at the drivers seat, and that is why we are pushing them to do.

“We know there is a challenge of capacity. That’s what we are doing here today to expose them to issues of environmental safeguard and occupational health and safety”.

The national coordinator said the World Bank programme was not designed to have counterpart funds, saying states were meant to implement these programs with their own financing.

He said the programme, as part of it’s social safeguard concerns ensured that only areas with low security risk were targeted, saying more awareness and understanding of the programme would be promoted for the benefit of implementing states.

Dr Victor Nwachukwu, a facilitator on Occupational Health and Safety Management (OHSMF) and Waste Management framework, said Nigeria has to improve occupational health and safety standards in all sectors.

According to him, there is the need to go beyond blaming people for inaction in emergencies, but to identify root causes and how do address them.

Nwachukwu said having OHSMF departments and systems in place would go a long way towards addressing disputes, employment issues for sustainable growth and development.

“Nigeria is signatory to a lot of international agreements and laws on occupational health and safety, what we lack is to establish guidelines that is fit for purpose.

“The top management also has a lot to do, there must be deliberate efforts and commitments that should be reflected in policies, programs, procedures”.

The SURWASH Program is projected to provide 6 million Nigerians with basic drinking water services, and support 1.4 million in accessing improved sanitation services.

It is also aimed towards developing improved WASH services in 2,000 schools and Health Care Facilities, and assist 500 communities in achieving ODF status.

According to the World Bank, implementing partners must adhere to environmental and safety standards in all programme implementation.

Known as the Environmental and Social System Assessments (ESSA), it is to ensure that projects are carried out in a sustainable manner.

The protocols of Environmental and Social (E&S) in PforR financing projects, ensured the management of land acquisition and loss of access to natural resources.

This, the bank says would avoid or minimise displacement, and assist affected people in improving their livelihoods and living standards.

“There is the need for improvement on programme implementation, some construction sites need to be cordoned off, construction materials need to covered.

“Temporary facilities (e.g toilet and other required conveniences) should be provided for the students, there is the need to provide appropriate caution signs on all project sites.

“There should be minimum distance between drinking water and

septic tank location, the public and workers safety against the potential risk factors should be provided

“Laborers should be trained on safety including Personal Protective Equipment usage amongst others,” as quoted in the bank’s ESSA protocol.

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