Pay counterpart funds, FG tells SURWASH benefiting states

Prof. Joseph Utsev, the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, has urged states benefiting from the 700 million dollars Sustainable Urban and Rural Water and Sanitation Hygiene (SURWASH) programme to fulfill their counterpart funding obligations.

The call was made during the 3rd Federal Steering Committee meeting of SURWASH in Abuja, emphasising the importance of timely contributions for the successful implementation of the project.

The six-year World Bank SURWASH programme, operating in Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, and Plateau states, aims to provide basic drinking water to six million people and grant improved sanitation services to 1.4 million individuals.

Additionally, it targets extending Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) services to 2,000 schools and healthcare facilities, with the ultimate goal of assisting 500 communities in achieving open defecation-free status.

Utsev highlighted the essential role of the Federal Steering Committee (FSC) in providing policy guidance and coordinating the programme.

This, he said is crucial for advancing the objectives outlined in the National Action Plan (NAP) for the Revitalisation of Nigeria’s WASH Sector.

Utsev emphasised the need for states to actively support the programme at the local level by providing adequate funding.

The funding, he noted, is crucial for seizing the opportunities presented by this Program-for-Results initiative.

“Itis very important for the States to adequately support this programme at state level by providing adequate funding for their States to enable them take advantage of this opportunity considering it is a Programme-for-Results initiative.

“This improved funding will enable us achieve the activities set in this Work plan and we should also consider scaling up our activities”.

Expressing gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his unwavering support, Utsev underscored the commitment to contribute to the “Renewed Hope Agenda” in areas such as food security and job creation.

He urged participating states to be proactive and committed to the program, emphasising the importance of improved funding for achieving set activities and scaling up efforts in the pursuit of programme goals.

Mr Abdulhamid Gwaram, SURWASH National Programme Coordinator, 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.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the SURWASH Implementation progress mission, conducted from Nov. 13 to 28, 2023, revealed a moderately unsatisfactory rating.

However, the mission team emphasised the continued relevance and strategic importance of the program, considering the ongoing challenges in accessing improved WASH services in Nigeria and the urgent need for universal access.

The report highlighted a sluggish pace in implementing program activities during the second program year, largely influenced by the general and state election period in early 2023.

Additionally, challenges included a delayed release of funds to implementing agencies, lengthy procurement and administrative processes, and the finalisation of environmental and social safeguards activities.

Despite these hurdles, the mission acknowledged the Government’s steadfast commitment to accelerating implementation.

Proposals were suggested to ensure the planned results are achieved.

NAN also reports that the meeting had commissioners of water resources and environment from benefiting states, reviews and finalisation of 2024 work plans.

Naija Environment News

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