The second phase of the Scale-Up Hygiene project is set to be implemented in Bauchi, Enugu, and Oyo states. The project will strengthen governance structures for water, sanitation, and hygiene service delivery to increase access to clean water and hygiene services and support the control of the spread of COVID-19 through hygiene behaviour change interventions.
The Heineken Foundation Africa has extended its partnership with WaterAid to support the second phase of the project initially launched by WaterAid Nigeria last year as part of its COVID -19 response intervention helping vulnerable communities protect themselves against the spread of the disease.
This second phase of the project will focus on consolidating on the wins of the first phase and ramping up existing hygiene promotion interventions and campaigns to increase access to improved hygiene, reduce the spread of the virus, and support national and sub-national governments to integrate water, sanitation, and hygiene in their COVID-19 response and vaccination strategy.
To achieve this, WaterAid will empower communities with context-specific hygiene behaviour change promotion tools, insights and materials designed to help them protect themselves from infectious diseases including COVID-19.
The project will increase access to non-contact and inclusive handwashing facilities in key strategic locations and deepen advocacy strategies to key government stakeholders to prioritise, integrate and sustain water, sanitation, and hygiene access. This will serve as a key preventive method for fighting against disease spread and ensure preparedness against future pandemics.
Evelyn Mere, Country Director of WaterAid Nigeria, said: “With emerging new variants of the coronavirus, thousands of people are exposed to the risk of contracting the disease. Whilst the world has urgently risen to the challenge of COVID -19 by introducing vaccine administration, every year hundreds of thousands of lives are silently lost because of lack of clean water, decent toilets, and hygiene.
“There is no doubt that urgent actions to sustain access to water, sanitation and hygiene are needed as a long-term strategy to fighting against disease spread and warding off future pandemics. With the major achievements recorded from the first phase of the project, we are expectant that the second phase of the project will deliver on strengthening government structures for better water, sanitation, and hygiene access. Having these basic human rights in place helps to stop infectious diseases in its tracks and helps vulnerable communities build back better from economic downturns inflicted by the pandemic.
“The government must respond now to providing infrastructure that sustains water, sanitation and hygiene at all levels, especially given its vital role in preventing disease spread and ensuring pandemic preparedness against future disease outbreaks.”
On her part, Sade Morgan, Corporate Affairs Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc/HEINEKEN Nigeria said: “There is concrete proof that good hygiene habits are critical in the eradication of diseases and, COVID-19 is no different. Heineken is proud to be supporting the phase II of the Scale-Up Hygiene project with WaterAid Nigeria as part of our response to COVID-19. By building on the success of phase 1 of the project, we are optimistic that there will be a greater positive impact on the health and general wellbeing of the selected communities.”
The first phase of the project was successful in reaching and equipping 21 million residents in Bauchi, Benue, Ekiti, Enugu, Kaduna, and Oyo states and in the FCT with context-specific hygiene information, encouraging the practice of good hygiene, using different promotional cues and touchpoints, including national, state and community TV and radio stations.
Similarly, around 210 non-contact and inclusive handwashing facilities were installed in healthcare facilities, schools, and public places to support the practice of good hygiene. Additionally, hygiene packs were distributed to 29,000 households and 7,200 people with disabilities in the states of intervention.
While the Government of Nigeria has begun the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, only about 1.4 million people, less than one per cent of the population, have been fully vaccinated.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “vaccines are only part of managing COVID-19, in addition to the main preventative measures, including frequent handwashing with soap.” Where vaccines are being delivered, they must be delivered alongside other essential public health measures – including water, sanitation, and hygiene – to ensure a comprehensive and sustainable approach to controlling the spread of the disease. Handwashing with soap remains a critical first line of defence against the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19; however, according to national statistics, more than 160 million people in Nigeria still lack access to basic handwashing facilities with soap and water, thereby increasing the risk of infection and disease spread.