The Federal Government says N10 billion will be shared among states for the construction and rehabilitation of water schemes as part of efforts to end COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Mr Suleiman Adamu, the Minister of Water Resources, told newsmen in Abuja that the interventions would include hiring of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) volunteers to educate the populace on importance of hand washing and personal hygiene.
He said that the volunteers, from each state would work for three months in all communities, adding that government was also distributing contactless hand washing stations in public places.
“We are going to be committing N10 billion to this emergency phase that we are with COVID-19, to be shared among the states of the federation and it include the rehabilitation and construction of new water schemes, mostly borehole- based schemes.
“We are also going to be hiring WASH volunteers for about three months from each state to be going to communities to educate them on the need for personal hygiene at all times.
“In addition, we are also looking at contactless hand washing facilities; we are also going to be distributing some in public areas, our targets are markets, motor parks.’’
According to him, since the outbreak of the pandemic, the ministry has set up a COVID-19 WASH response committee along with all the commissioners of water resources of the 36 states as members.
He said that the plan was centred around how the Federal Government would support states through the N500 billion economic stimulus package introduced by the President Muhammadu Buhari.
“As you know, all the campaigns that have been going on to fight COVID-19 has been on issues of sanitation, wash your hands, wear your masks, wash your hands in running water with soap, etc, that’s the main focus, and then when you are talking of sanitation, you have to talk about water.
“We are going to be building and rehabilitating some water schemes, especially in urban slums and in public areas like markets, motor parks etc.
“We are just waiting for the approval of the National Assembly and the budget releases for us to be able to start working on that.”
Adamu said although the Federal Government was relaxing conditions for the Implementation of Partnership for Expanded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) programme in states, it was however stepping up its interventions.
According to him, the rationale behind the PEWASH implementation ought to be a 50:50 collaboration, saying with the two pilot states of Kano and Ogun, some states delayed payment of their own counterpart funds.
“Because of COVID-19, we are going to slightly relax the rules so that we get the projects going, and then my expectations is that we are talking about 870 water schemes between the 10 states that we will be working on.
“All that will be done before the end of the year and then subsequently in the 2021 budget, we take up another set of states.”
Adamu said the ministry had also stepped up advocacies on the media through jingles and all others admonishing people to wash their hands always and maintain social distancing at all times.
He said that the ministry was also incorporating its Open Defecation-Free campaign into the intervention by building low-cost toilets, sanitation facilities for commercial areas and to hand them over to vulnerable persons.
“Our target is that once those are finished, we will hand them over to vulnerable people like widows, unemployed people and persons with disabilities.
“We are still discussing modalities if it will be a gift now or it will be like a revolving fund at a subsidized rate.”