UNICEF, EU donates sanitation facilities, water schemes in Akwa Ibom

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*Anambra: IFAD-VCDP donates relief items, inputs to farmers affected by flood*

From Ini Billie, Uyo and Oge Onyeanusi, Nnewi

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and European Union (EU) in collaboration with the Akwa Ibom State government have donated 46 solar powered mini water schemes and 32 sanitation facilities to two communities in the state.

Speaking on Wednesday in Eket local government area during a two-day meeting on the establishment of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) media network on Niger Delta Support Project, Mr Idongesit Ido, Acting General Manager of Akwa Ibom Rural Water Supply & Sanitation Agency (AK-RUWATSAN) said that the facilities have improved the lives of women and children in terms of access to improved water and sanitation services.

He said contracts have been awarded for 52 solar powered mini water schemes out of which 46 have been completed, adding that while some were new, others were rehabilitated from the existing water schemes.

He said the programme as a pilot scheme started in the local government areas of Obot Akara and Nsit Atai with plans to extend to Ikono and Esit Eket LGAs.

Ido said that that AK-RUWATSAN has completed a draft policy document and water laws on WASH and forwarded the documents to the State House of Assembly to enact into law for easy implementation of the policy.

He commended UNICEF, EU and the State Government for their support towards achieving access to safe water and provision of sanitation facilities in rural communities in the state.

“With the help of relevant stakeholders, we have made remarkable milestones in water schemes, provision of sanitation facilities, baseline surveys, anti-open defecation awareness campaigns and sundry WASH programmes.

“We equally carried out a comprehensive baseline surveys and targetted 137 communities in two LGAs. We created awareness and certified 120 communities on the open defecation free (ODF) exercise as well as earmarked 17 more communities for next round of ODF certification,” Ido said.

Speaking on ethical reporting of UNICEF/EU assisted programmes especially as it affects children, Mrs Ijeoma Onuoha, Communication Officer, UNICEF office, Enugu said that reporting children and young people has its special challenges.

Onuoha noted that in some instances, the act of reporting children placed them or other children at risk of retribution or stigmatisation.

She reminded journalists to always adhere to the ethics of their profession while reporting not to compromise the rights of children.

“The dignity and rights of the child are to be respected in every circumstance. Do not publish a story or an image which might put the child, siblings or peers at risk even when  identities are changed, obscured or not used.

“Do not further stigmatise any child, avoid categorisation or descriptions that exposed the child to negative reprisals, physical or psychological harm,” Onuoha said.

Meanwhile, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-assisted Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) has donated relief materials and farm inputs worth over N50 million to farmers affected by the recent flood in Anambra.

The items presented to the farmers at Umueri General Hospital which serves as a holding center in the state included bags of rice and garri, cartons of noodles, vegetable oil and soaps.

Speaking at the occasion on Monday, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mechanization, Processing and Export, Mr. Afam Mbanefo, said that the gesture was to help ameliorate their sufferings.

“The items are to ensure that you have food to go back home with and while the inputs are to ensure that you have something to go back to farm with,” he explained.

The commissioner further disclosed that the state government already had a rice nursery farm in Umueri for dry season farming which commences immediately the flood recedes.

Mbanefo said that the state government was partnering other agricultural intervention programmes, agencies and stakeholders to further give succour to farmers in the state.

The State Programme Coordinator of IFAD-VCDP, Mr Nnamdi Agwuncha said 200 rice farmers and 50 cassava farmers will be supported with inputs to enable them get back early to farms to continue business.

“Every rice or cassava farmer will be supported with farm inputs for one hectare.
“Rice seeds, cassava stems and fertilizer inputs would be provided for a total of 250 hectares of rice and cassava farms.

“The inputs will be provided as soon as the farmers are ready to go back to farm,” Aguncha assured, while stressing the need for them to insure their farms to mitigate loss during disasters.

In his remarks, the traditional ruler of Umueri, Igwe Ben Emeka appealed to the Federal Government to establish damns that would collect the flood water when they overflows their banks.

Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mrs Theresa Obi, the chairman, Nnaemeka Cooperative Society, Umuoba-Anam commended the IFAD-VCDP and the state government for coming to their aid.

“If you come to our farms, you will pity us; but I thank God that they have fulfilled their promise.
“This gesture has rekindled our hope,” Obi said, while appealing to other affluent individuals to come to their aid.

 

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