An elderly lady with river blindness, and her daughter, in Nigeria

Working with communities in Nigeria to improve access to water and prevent disease

Together with our long-term partner HANDS, a Nigerian NGO, we’ve be working with ten communities in Kano State, Nigeria, to build accessible water points and train and equip local people to manage and maintain them.

Access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) is vital to enable people to protect themselves from disease – including COVID-19 and the blinding eye infection trachoma. Trachoma is one of several Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) that primarily affect people living in poverty and put them at greater risk of disability.

2.5 million people in the project area are affected by NTDs, partly because of a lack of access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation. Many people living in rural communities are forced to use unsafe water sources such as rivers, streams or ponds or they lack the knowledge about how to purify water and why this is so vital.

This project aimed to:

  • Train people on water safety and hygiene measures to protect themselves from COVID-19 and other diseases, including developing and distributing posters and leaflets in local languages, radio jingles and participating in TV talk shows.
  • Build inclusive community water points (boreholes), which can be accessed by everyone, including people with disabilities.
  • Support communities to manage and maintain their water supply by forming inclusive WASH Committees (comprising 15 members each) in each of the 10 communities; Committee members will receive equipment to maintain the boreholes and be trained to maintain them.
  • Advocate to relevant stakeholders – such as local government, community leaders, religious leaders and Disabled People’s Organisations – to elicit their support and commitment to ensure long-term sustainability of the project.
  • Train 284 members of state and local government area NTDs teams so that they have a clear understanding of the use of WASH to prevent and control NTDs and COVID-19.

Improving access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene reduces water related illnesses and deaths and will lead to sustained control and elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases. WASH services will also allow for regular hand hygiene – one of the most important measures to protect again the COVID-19 virus.


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