By: Temple Oraeki
THE coronavirus pandemic is crippling global economies and sending shivers down the spines of all and sundry, irrespective of economic class, tribe, religion, race and region. As a WASH-centric pandemic, its solutions or panacea revolve around WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene).
Just like most infectious diseases, hand hygiene, and more specifically, handwashing, is one of the recommended practices to prevent the spread of the virus. Hence, it is imperative that all COVID-19 interventions, either in the form of relief packages or healthcare restructuring, should have WASH components.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Nigeria has continued to increase since the first case on 28th February 2020. As of 19 May 2020, there was a total of 6,401 confirmed cases. More worrisome is the high likelihood of community transmission and a second wave.
There is no gainsaying that one of the sustainable ways to boost the confidence of residents in Nigeria is through proper sensitization at grassroots level and provision of adequate WASH facilities at strategic public places within the states of the federation.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has taken some important steps to curb the spread of the virus, most especially, through support for improved Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) access to all the states in Nigeria. A National WASH Response Committee, comprising the Commissioner of Water Resources in all the states of the federation, was formed to drive the WASH COVID-19 Response.
At the 2nd Virtual Meeting of the National WASH Response Committee for COVID-19 held on Tuesday, 5th May 2020, the Minister, Engr Suleiman Adamu highlighted some salient points on the way forward and strategies to support the states.
In his speech he reiterated the urgency for the provision of adequate water supply for regular handwashing, considering the emergence of community transmission of COVID-19 across the country.
The Minister also confirmed that the committee is at the stage of getting the final nod from the Ministry of Finance, on the proposal submitted on WASH response to COVID-19 in support of State Government’s efforts. The deliverables as contained in the proposal include:
5 numbers of water points will be rehabilitated in each State & FCT, preferably in public places of densely populated sections of urban areas; States are hereby requested to submit the locations and description of the schemes to the secretariat.
5 number of solar-powered borehole schemes would be constructed in each State & FCT, also preferably in public places (Motor Parks, Markets, Health Centres or Schools); States to submit proposed locations to the secretariat.
10 number of sanitation facilities would be constructed in public places of densely populated areas of each State and FCT; States to submit proposed locations to the secretariat.
10 number mobile/fixed (contactless) handwashing facilities would be supplied to each State and the FCT with handwashing soap and sanitizers to be deployed to public places.
100 Youth Volunteers would be engaged from each of the 774 LGAs of the Federation for hand washing and ODF Campaign and other WASH activities for a period of 3 months.
The states would be to coordinate the selection of these volunteers for each LGA in liaison with the secretariat for modalities and procedures for the exercise.
State Urban Water Supply Agencies should submit urgent needs in the areas of chemicals, equipment, repairs and other logistic supports within NGN 10million bracket to the secretariat.
Track, Publicize and account for Federal Government WASH interventions incorporated in COVID-19 response across all the states in Nigeria.
An updated database of WASH interventions incorporated in COVID-19 response; accessible data to guide policy decisions for improved access to WASH facilities for residents and increased WASH infrastructural development in the state.