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

Posted on: Friday, March 26th, 2021

Together with our long-term partner HANDS, a Nigerian NGO, we’ll be working with ten communities in Kano State, Nigeria, to build accessible water points and train and equip local people to manage these, reducing the risk of disease.

Access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) is vital to enable people to protect themselves from disease – including Covid19 and the blinding eye infection trachoma. Trachoma is one of several “neglected tropical diseases” that primarily affect people living in poverty and put them at greater risk of disability.

Matthew Hanning, Director of International Programmes at CBM UK explains:

“We’re proud to be working with the incredibly experienced HANDS team in Nigeria, with local government and in partnership with local communities themselves to improve access to clean water for all and ensure that local people are trained and equipped to manage and maintain their local water supply. Access to clean water and sanitation are critical to prevent trachoma and other Neglected Tropical Diseases – and are also vital to curb the spread of Covid-19. More efforts on WASH are urgently needed in order to meet the targets set out in the global WHO NTD roadmap, including control or elimination of NTDs by 2030.”

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 can lead to water related infections such as parasitic, bacterial and vector borne diseases.

This project aims to:

  • Create awareness on WASH, NTDs and Covid-19 in the community, including training people on water safety and protection and developing and distributing information, education and communication (IEC) materials (in local languages), such as posters, brochures, T-shirts, radio jingles and TV talk shows.
  • Build 10 inclusive community water points (boreholes) – in consultation with vulnerable members of the community – which can be accessed by everyone, including people with disabilities, and sustainably managed.
  • Form 10 inclusive WASH Committees (comprising 15 members each), in 10 communities, and training members on the maintenance of the boreholes – as well as equipping them with the tools needed.
  • 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 (WASH) will reduce water related illnesses and deaths and will lead to sustained control and elimination of Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). WASH services will also allow for regular hand hygiene – one of the most important measures to protect again the Covid-19 virus.

Image: Mairige (70, right) with her sister Hauwa (55, left). Mairige lives in rural Nigeria and lost her sight due to river blindness.