COVID-19: Only 1% population of Bauchi has access WASH facilities close to homes – Water Commissioner laments

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By Akanji Alowolodu, Bauchi

It has been lamented that base on the 2019 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping {WASHNORM}, only 1% of the population of Bauchi State have access to hand-washing facilities with soap and water close to their homes. 
Also, nationally over 167 million people in Nigeria lack access to hand – washing facilities with soap close to their  homes a development that makes infection by diseases easily possible. 

The disclosure was made by the Bauchi State Commissioner for Water Resources, Barrister Jidauna Tula Mbami at the at the commissioning of hand – washing facilities at the Special Education School premises in Bauchi on Tuesday with a call to ensure that it was used for the purpose meant for. 
The facilities were donated by the Heineken African Foundation (HAF) in collaboration with WaterAid Nigeria in a determined effort to fight spread of the COVID-19 infection among students with special needs. 
The facilities which were donated through Bauchi State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) were commissioned by the State Commissioner of Water Resources, Barrister Mbami. 
While presenting the facilities to the School, the Commissioner stressed that curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is presently the topmost priority of the state government stressing that the fight against the spread of the infection is futile without good hygiene and the facilities to support its practices. 
He added that good hygiene like hand-washing with soap is widely accepted and proven to be the first line of defense against infectious diseases adding that hand-washing with soap and clean water is therefore one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to reduce the burden of fatal contagious disease, many of which affect mostly children. 
The Commissioner added that hygiene being a crucial element of primary healthcare, is a key barrier to disease transmission and fundamental to infection prevention, control and management which has been shown to reduce cases of acute respiratory infection by 16 – 23%, pneumonia by 50% and the risk of endemic diarrhea by up to 48%.
Mbami also said that this poor access to hygiene infrastructure makes the practice of good hygiene difficult with attendant negative consequences on health, livelihood, gender equality and socio-economic outcomes. 

The General Manager /Permanent Secretary of RUWASSA, Engineer Garba Babaji said that the collaboration with HAF and other donor agencies has improved the issue of water, sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in the state. 
He therefore commended HAF and WaterAid for the donation which he said will further complement the fight against the spread of COVID-19 pandemic particularly among students with special needs. 
Representative of Heineken African Foundation (HAF), Mallum Iliya said that the Foundation donated the facilities to the students with special needs considering their nature of existence stressing that such students need to be guided. 
Mallum Iliya then urged the state government to ensure that the facilities donated were put to effective use in order to serve the purpose for which they were donated. 
In his vote of thanks, Principal of the school, Mohammed Ibrahim Yarima expressed happiness with the donation which he said came handy considering the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic which is said to be deadlier. 
He however assured that the facilities will be judiciously used by the students and staff saying that everything possible will be done to ensure that the facilities were maintained. 
The students who are mostly deaf and dumb as well as sight impaired were taught how to use the facilities effectively.

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