C-BIGS takes safe water campaign to Pyakasa, Zuba communities

A Non-Governmental Organisation – Community-Based Initiative for Growth and Sustainability (C-BIGS) recently conducted a 3-day training for community volunteers on Water Safety Planning (WSP).

The training was  held at Jeparo hotel, Gwagwalada for Pyakasa and  Zuba  communities with funding from European Union through the Agent for Citizen Driven Transformation (EU-ACT) program on improved sanitation and hygiene practices.

Speaking at the training program, the Executive Director, Community-Based  Initiative for Growth and Sustainability (C-BIGS), Ms. Joy Seyi Olagundoye said the NGO aims to create awareness around water, sanitation and hygiene services in communities in Nigeria as well as to ensure that people are equipped with the right knowledge and are also engaged in safe practices when it comes to handling drinking water.  According to her, these practices are key to ensuring there are preventive measures to curb the spread of water-related diseases that plague communities.

She explained that the training focused on equipping community members to be conscious about the various ways our drinking water can get contaminated; either at the point of fetching from the borehole, or the means we transport it to the house  even the way the water is stored before drinking.

Asked about the assessment of the training and awareness program, she said that it was just the beginning and judged it a success.  
Olagundoye said that C-BIGS as an NGO is working with each of the communities, adding that they  already have community members in small committees who will lead the process of engaging the wider population of the two communities.

Olagundoye said, “it is this committee that was the key beneficiary of this training.

“With the training, they now have an idea on how to test for contamination like E-coli in their water and thus determine how safe their water is before consumption.”
C-BIGS Executive Director further said that the community members were taught mechanisms and techniques of safe hygiene practices and water handling as a means to prevent contamination of water which could lead to water-borne diseases outbreak or spread.

On challenges, she said that the group got all the support needed from AMAC and Gwagwalada Area Councils,  adding that the community members were happy and actively participated in the program.  

“Both Area Councils assigned to this project a health/ Environmental officer as a focal person representing the Council. So, I will say overall, it went well,“ she added.
Olagundoye urged  governments  at all levels to continue to support its activities  and work together by creating an enabling environment, and allowing initiatives like this to thrive.

“We had 30 participants in the training. During our community sensitization outreach into Pyakasa – the first community, we were able to reach about 40 persons.  In Zuba, we had to reschedule for next week Tuesday.”

Speaking on the current state of sanitation and hygiene in Nigeria, she said that it is very alarming, adding that that is why President Muhammadu Buhari declared a state of emergency on open defecation and hygiene in the country.

Commenting on the training and awareness program, Chief of Zuba community Haruna Barau Zuba noted that the program was so exciting as it avails the community members what to do to get clean safe water and a sanitized environment.

“Everyone enjoyed it because it has to do with how to keep our lives safe. We do not have adequate water supply, the boreholes that have been sunk are not functional,” he said.
Zuba said that during the assessment of the various sources where community persons fetch water by the NGO,  It  found the source of water is safe, but how  it is being  transported to houses for drinking is what leads to some form of secondary contamination.  

“ They further found that in some houses, the places they keep type of container also leads to the water being contaminated.”
According to him, the community had a cholera outbreak 2 years ago where lives were lost, adding “ though we had lost lives then, things are getting better because the NGO have enlightened us on safe water chain.

While enjoining the government to give the NGO more support in order to reach out to as many communities as possible; he prayed to God to continue to help them in carrying out the enlightenment program.

In his own response, UNICEF lead facilitator, Oyonga Ndifon described the program as “ a wonderful one” going by the fact that in recent years cholera has been ravaging Nigeria seriously.
According to him, cholera outbreak in 2019 and 2020 in some states in Nigeria was quite devastating and claimed so many lives, saying such a program will help the communities and Nigeria government to be proactive on the prevention of cholera outbreak.

“So it`s a program that teaches how to manage water handling and make it safe for communities` consumption. So, if community people are provided the necessary information, education and awareness, it will go a long way in curtailing diseases outbreak in Nigeria.
Ndifon explained that the Community Safety Planning approach used in this project is the brainwork of the Federal Government and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR), in partnership with development partners.

Speaking on the performance of the NGO so far, he responded thus: “they have done fine, judging by what I have seen so far, but they need to strengthen capacity at the community level for the community to take ownership because most of these programs are just like models and we want the implementation to be the responsibility of the community to take charge and then take ownership. As we always say; you don’t expect me to come and give you a bike and when it got bad and still wants me to come and repair it, you need to take responsibility and ownership of the bike. That is how it is.”  

He urged the government and all stakeholders to key into the program as a lot of lives have been lost because of the outbreak of cholera and diarrhea.

“ All should key into this local development programe, especially this one that has to do with safe management of water so that people get blessing from safe clean water, I mean water can be a curse when it is contaminated it will definitely affect improvement, but when it is safe without any form of contamination people will feel healthy and then there will be increase in productivity,” said the UNICEF lead facilitator.

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