The Government of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the United Nations’ Global Sanitation Fund are working together in a ground breaking partnership which goes far beyond the traditional donor-recipient relationship of most development programmes.
This is the first donor initiative in Nigeria developed and led by the Government’s National Task Group on Sanitation (NTGS), which is the instrument for sector coordination.
The innovation sees international funding matched by national, regional and local funding to significantly improve the sanitation and hygiene situation in two states in Nigeria: Benue State and Cross River State, and thereby setting a framework for replication in other States in order to achieve the national target of an Open Defecation Free (ODF) Nigeria by 2025.
The Honourable Minister for Water Resources of Nigeria, Mrs. Sarah Reng Ochekpe, and Dr. Chris Williams, the Executive Director of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC operates the Global Sanitation Fund) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 16 June to cement their partnership.
“I praise Honourable Minister Sarah Reng Ochekpe for championing the provision of government financing and resources specifically to promote sanitation and hygiene in this way. She has made the strive to end open defecation a national movement, led by the government and supported by a number of national and international partners, rather than a donor driven development initiative” said Chris Williams. “This is a ground-breaking move that should serve as a model to governments everywhere” he added.
The RUSHPIN programme is based on the Nigerian National Water Supply and Sanitation Policy, which was adopted in 2000, making accessibility to adequate water and sanitation the right of every Nigerian. The RUSHPIN Programme Coordinating Mechanism (PCM) as a sub-committee of the NTGS designed the programme based on collective sanitation sector experience, with the aim to create a model for state-wide sanitation coverage that can be replicated across the country. The PCM brings together government, development partners, civil society/NGOs and sanitation experts and now oversees RUSHPIN programme implementation under the leadership of the NTGS Chairman Eng. Samuel Ome.
Experience from Nigeria and elsewhere has shown that simply constructing toilets, or offering subsidies for construction, is not an effective way to improve sanitation. Therefore the Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria (RUSHPIN) programme favours a community-led approach empowering whole communities to collectively change their sanitation and hygiene behaviour; ensuring that every community member uses a toilet and practices good hygiene.
The GSF financing of US$ 5 million over 5 years provided by WSSCC, will be supplemented by US$ 2.2 million committed by Benue State Government and US$ 2.2 million committed by Cross River State Government. In addition, the Federal Government has committed funding of US$ 950,000 to support the programme.
The GSF programme funds currently directly cover six Local Government Areas (LGAs): Agatu, Gwer East and Logo in Benue State and Abi, Bekwara and Obanliku in Cross River State. The funds being committed by the State governments will cover an additional three LGAs in each state: Ado, Buruku and Gboko in Benue State and Obudu, Akamkpa and Ogoja in Cross River State. The total number of LGAs covered by the RUSHPIN programme is therefore 12, targeting about 4 million people in over 2,000 communities, representing an important step towards state-wide sanitation coverage. In addition, funds committed by the Government will ensure that sanitation facilities are in place in all public places and institutions in the 12 targeted LGAs.
The programme is managed and administered by the Nigeria country office of the international non-government organization Concern Universal, in close collaboration with the Government at federal, state and, LGA levels.
In March of this year, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, visited Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. During this visit Nigeria was urged to play its proper role in improving access to water and sanitation in the country. Furthermore the UN Deputy Secretary-General committed to a partnership supporting the development of the Nigeria water and sanitation sector.
When WASH practitioners understand the patterns and causes of slippage, they can devise innovative strategies to avoid it.
Global Sanitation Fund programmes are designed to incorporate gender considerations and equity dimensions.
Monitoring slippage should go beyond the numbers to truly understand behaviour change and community dynamics.