Okwe Obi, Abuja

The World Bank said that it has disbursed $350 million to assist Nigeria address water challenges in the country’s rural communities and to combat open defecation.

It explained that the funds which came at the behest of the Federal Government became necessary because of the high infant mortality, deteriorating life long health and poor educational attainment caused by a lack of clean water.

World Bank Country Director Rachid Benmessaoud, who spoke in Abuja at the National stakeholders Consultative Workshop on the Rural Wash Project, added that Nigeria has made limited progress in combating poverty due to the country’s low human capital.

“Low access to water supply and sanitation services is a major reason for this poor performance,” Benmessaoud said.

“Yet, given the majority of Nigerians that lack access to improved wash services live in rural communities, attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) will be largely contingent upon Nigeria’s ability to improve and sustain access to safely managed water services in rural communities.

“That’s why this year, at the request of the government of Nigeria, our team has began preparing the new 350 million dollars lending cooperation in support of rural communities and small town.

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“This project will serve to improve access to clean water and sanitation and hygiene services and strengthen the capacity for service delivery. This project is part of our long term engagement in the rural wash sector and leveraging other activities in the country portfolio, including activities in education and health, to promote sector reforms and deliver on the human capital agenda,” he said.

The Federal Government said so far only about N1.6 billion has been spent on constructing over 700 water facilities in Kano and Ogun States, respectively.

Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, who applauded the gesture of the Bank, said only committed states would benefit from the funding.

“l am happy to note that progress is being made on the implementation of the PEWASH Programme with 24 States signing the Programme Protocol. Also in the two pilot States of Kano and Ogun States, over 700 water facilities have been either constructed or rehabiiitated with an investment of over 1.6 billion naira by the federal government alone,” he said.

“We thank the World Bank for this effort and hope this will open the gate for more supports from our esteemed development partners.

“It is noteworthy that projects will fail to achieve the intended objectives when there no adequate interactions among all the stakeholders. Therefore, deliberate efforts must be made to ensure all stakeholders interactions right from the project formulation to implementation and evaluation stages,” he added.

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