In its efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Bauchi State Field Office of the United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF) has donated washing stations and hygiene kits worth several millions of naira to Bauchi State Government to be distributed to all the 20 LGAs as well as communities, institutions, public places and worship centres across the state.
While handing over the items to the state government through the Commissioner of Water Resources, the UNICEF Chief of Bauchi Filed Office, Bhanu Pathak disclosed that the items were donated by their donors, European Union (EU) and the UKAid of the United Kingdom formerly known as DFID in order to support the efforts of the state government in the fight against the spread of the pandemic through effective hand washing in the places identified to have the items.
Bhanu Pathak who was represented at the ceremony said that “in line with our objective of helping to save lives from the COVID-19 disease, the items we are handing over today include: 400 handwashing stations; multipurpose soap, kettles, cups/plastics, jerrycans, buckets, water purification tablets (aqua tabs), cholera prevention and handwashing steps flier. These are to be distributed based on agreed selection criteria and distribution plan in line with vulnerability factors in the 20 LGAs of Bauchi State”.
He added that “in addition to these items which we are handing over today, UNICEF has supported awareness creation on good hygiene practices through the airing of jingles on radio stations and the distribution of information, education and communication (IEC) materials in Bauchi State”.
While receiving the donated items on behalf of the state government, the Commissioner of Water Resources, Barr Jidauna Tula Mbami observed that the lack of access to clean water, decent toilets and handwashing facilities in homes, communities, public places, schools and healthcare facilities make people more vulnerable to potentially fatal diseases which have contributed to the spread of infections and making it very difficult for people to protect themselves and others from the spread of diseases, and nations to control disease outbreaks and pandemics such as COVID-19.
The Commissioner added that the emergency situation created by COVID-19 pandemic while exacerbating the impact of the situation also provide an opportunity to mitigate existing risks and build effective and sustainable WASH systems which will support improved hygiene behaviours like handwashing with soap and clean water which will help tackle the spread of COVID-19 and other highly contagious diseases.
He added that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has stressed the need for a deepened integration of water, sanitation and hygiene policies and programmes as well as for strong collaboration across relevant sectors and actors saying, “now more than ever, there is the need for partnerships, collaboration and urgent collective action to build resilient water, sanitation and hygiene systems, to control and overcome COVID-19, prevent the next pandemic and build sustainable and resilient services that can deliver health and dignity for all”.
Jidauna Tula Mbami also said that “it is therefore in view of this and also the strong partnership and collaboration existing between UNICEF and the Government of Bauchi State, the UNICEF decided to support the commitment and efforts of the government towards curtailing the spread of the COVID-19 in the state through the supply of this large consignment of WASH response kits for distribution to all LGAs, schools, health facilities and public places.”
He concluded that “the Governor has directed that we must collectively ensure the judicious use and application of the items for the purpose they were meant to serve, and therefore, myself and RUWASA will strictly monitor utilization. As we pray and hope for divine intervention in bringing this nightmare disease to an end as soon as possible.”
Earlier in his brief remarks, the Permanent Secretary/General Manager of RUWASA, Engnr Garba Magaji commended UNICEF for the support saying that it will go a long way in complementing the efforts of the state government in the fight against COVID-19 and other water-borne diseases as well as promote the habit of maintaining good hygiene by the people considering that the items will be placed at strategic locations where people can easily access them for effective use.
Garba Magaji added that if WASH issues were effectively controlled and the people Imbibe the culture of washing of hands with clean water and soap, infectious diseases will be checked just as the spread of COVID-19 will be minimised assuring the items will be judiciously distributed to all the designated places as contained in the MoU.