A coalition of NGOs, community groups in Sokoto State have appealed to Gov. Aminu Tambuwal to implement Open Government Partnership (OGP) and Effective Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (E-WASH) policies in the state.
Leader of the groups and State Team Leader of OGP, Dr Awwal Ahmed, made the call at a news conference on Wednesday in Sokoto.
Group’s representatives are Mr Bala Hamisu from Nagarta Community Health and Gender Education Change Initiative, Mr Muhammad Garba, Save the Child Initiative, Abdulrahman Abdulsalam of Hikima Community Mobilisation and Development Initiative.
Ahmed said some states had implemented OGP and it made impacts on people’s lives, while others were making proactive efforts to align the documents to suit their cultural and religious practices.
“In his wisdom, Tambuwal have engaged many international and national developmental partners in the areas of health, education, water and sanitation, economic empowerment of girls and women, abused amongst others.
“These development partners work toward fulfilling their mandates which is in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Signing the relevant Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs), policy documents and laws will drive necessary reforms and ensure improved service delivery,’’ Ahmed said.
He said that E-WASH project personnel had already left Sokoto working in other states, stressing that only Tambuwal could mobilise them back when he signed the documents.
According to him, Sokoto state has a window to benefit with the programme by signing the documents till March 22.
He said that people had begun to see good results on township water supply and public hygiene in E-WASH project in Sokoto and its environs.
He said that part of the success are E-WASH facilitate draft of State E-WASH policy document, formation of strong community structures including women and youths, traditional leaders and community of practice.
Ahmed said E-WASH clubs were established in primary and secondary schools and had built the capacity of Sokoto State Water Board workers.
He said that E-WASH project conducted research on effective measures to ensure water supply all year round and significant improvement was recorded on water supply, management and hygiene in the state.
He said adequate contacts and plans were ensured to bridge any communication gap between all actors, however, government did not sign the documents.
Ahmed said senior government officials, community leaders and project personnel’s had agreed on the draft policy which was not in conflict with religion or cultural norms in the state.
The group leader said that E-WASH project was not in Sokoto to commercialise water board rather to make it a corporate entity with full autonomy of operations that would allow collection of reasonable amount for effective services as obtained in the other areas.
The Chairperson, Women Water User Group, Hajia Habiba Muhammad explained that women were most affected with water scarcity and associated hardships in the community.
Muhammad said some girls were being raped when on errand to fetch water; this occurred on streets and in the houses of wealthy individuals that own boreholes, adding that E-WASH project had begun to ease water scarcity associated challenges.
Malam Bashir Abdullahi and Alhaji Ibrahim Ibrahim, leaders of some state Water User Groups, who underscored the importance of the project, lamented that Sokoto has been left behind among the six participating states.
They alleged that the governor was not aware or being fed with right information on E-WASH project as water board workers want by all means to continue with their illicit businesses using water supply.
When contacted on the issue, the Commissioner for Water Resources, Mr Umar Bature said that state government was fully committed to the implementation of E-WASH project.
Bature said that state government furnished the E-WASH office accommodation to enhance cooperation on all its activities however project managers issued non realistic timing.
He said that the MOU and draft policy met existing water law in that state and he forwarded it to the executives with E-WASH inputs, adding that stakeholders were working to merge it with inputs from the Ministry of Justice.
“Governor Tambuwal is willing to sign the document, however, there is need to understand it better and make it relevant not to run into conflict with available regulations.
“E-WASH is preparatory to multinationals to invest in water supply in Sokoto as their sole agenda and they are pursuing it.
“No monetary aspect in the MoU, but only utility fund where they can provide machines or similar support.
“The water project is centred on providing Technical Assistance, Improve Water Supply, Capacity Building and Corporatisation of Water Board.
“In Sokoto, we consider water supply as social services, so there is need for sequential follow up of the project to be implemented through circulating right information and activities,’’ Bature said.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that E-WASH is a U.S. government support project through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Research Triangle Institute International (RTI).
It is aimed at engaging in new urban water and sanitation activities and targets to provide potable water and hygiene services to at least 500,000 families in each of the six benefiting states.
It is a 60.4 million dollar project, where USAID will provide assistance to Abia, Delta, Imo, Niger, Sokoto, and Taraba states.
It will improve access to safe water and sanitation services to enhance good health for the people. (NAN)