As part of a wider Niger Delta Support Programme (NDSP) aimed at addressing the causes of unrest in the region, the European Union (EU) and UNICEF yesterday signed a five-year agreement for the implementation of Rural Water and Sanitation Project (RWSSP) in rural communities in five states.
They are Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers.
A statement from UNICEF received last night in Abuja said the rural water supply and sanitation project intends to accomplish the goal through improvement in governance, job creation and provision of basic social services.
The NDSP is funded by EU with a total budget of about N450 billion. The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project, to be implemented by UNICEF in collaboration with the benefitting states.
A breakdown of the N5 billion contribution shows that EU will contribute a total of N4 billion; UNICEF, N12 million; the five state governments and benefitting LGAs, N700 million and the benefitting rural communities, N81 million.
At the signing ceremony, the EU head of delegation to Nigeria, Ambassador David Macrae, said that the EU will work closely with UNICEF and other partners to help Nigeria achieve the water and sanitation MDGs in Nigeria.
The statement said he was particularly appreciative of the collaboration EU has had with UNICEF water and sanitation programme.
"It is expected that the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (RWSSP) will provide safe drinking water supply, improved basic facilities for human waste disposal and promotion of proper hygiene practices to about 1.4 million direct beneficiaries in the five states," the statement by Godfrey Njoku said.
"In addition to the provision of basic social services, RWSSP will support the five States to establish and strengthen their Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agencies (RUWASAs) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Departments in the LGAs.
"These institutions are responsible for implementing rural water supply and sanitation projects in rural communities in the States. The project will also contribute to peace building and social bonding as well as mitigate the impacts of social unrests in the five project States through active involvement of the communities in making decisions that effect their development.
"Capacity will be provided within community institutions to foster social dialogue and interactions. In view of the recent flooding in the region, the rural water project will build capacity of public sector and civil society organisations in disaster risk reduction and early recovery management in the water and sanitation sector. While receiving the signed documents, UNICEF Representative ai Mr Ibrahima Fall noted that "the EU's investments and partnerships in the water and sanitation sector in Nigeria has been a major support in strengthening sector governance and providing services to the underserved."