EUROPEAN Union, EU, and United Nations International and Emergency Fund, UNICEF, said about 103 rural communities in Osun State are now free from open defecation through the implementation of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, projects. According to the state UNICEF/WASH Consultant, Olowole Modekai, out of the 304 trigger communities, 50 are also approaching the status of open defecation representing 50 percent of all rural communities engaging in open defecation in the state. Modekai said this during a two-day workshop on WASH Capacity Building Media Network in Osun, recently, to engage media practitioners on strategies to promote water and sanitation hygiene. He added that 215 water facilities have been completed out of the 259 awarded through the collaboration of the state government, Rural
and Water Environmental Sanitation Agnecy, RUWESA, and EU/UNICEF to ensure equitable access to water supply for 65,500 people in the state, especially those in rural areas. He said 2,387 improved latrines have been constructed and 4,800 school children have ascess to hygienic water, adding that the target of Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme, WASSSRP, is to ensure that 120,000 people have equitable access to water supply in 2017. The UNICEF consultant explained that 7,515 residents engage in open defecation, but virtually all houses in the two focal local governments, Ayedaade and Odo-otin where WASH programmes is currently ongoing have constructed household latrines. Aslo speaking, Director, Sanitation and Health, RUWESA, Mr. Segun Moyinoluwa, said the state was able to achieve this feat
with the commitment of Governor Rauf Aregbesola and the prompt payment of counterpart funds to partnering international organisations. Moyinoluwa, who commended Aregbesola for giving priority to the health status of his people, explained that the state government paid its counterpart contribution despite its low financial status. He said the involvement of the state government in WASH is in fulfillment of Aregbesola’s six integral action plans to promote healthy living. Through WASH and other interventions, according to Moyinoluwa, 1,000 boreholes have been provided in 800 rural and urban communities with the assistance of EU/UNICEF and other partners which significantly reduced water related diseases and promoted sanitation and hygiene. He added that the agency’s programme increased school enrolment, enhanced human dignity with the prevention of
open defecation and provided opportunities for the remotest rural areas to have access to drinkable water in the state of Osun. Mojoyinoluwa, who disclosed that the state has never defaulted in its funding obligation which has placed it ahead of neighbouring states, urged media practitioners to support the agency and other partnering agencies in promoting the culture of sanitation and hygiene. Enumerating some of the benefits of WASH intervention programme, Moyinoluwa said it has drastically reduced feacoral diseases prevalence, just as it has helped in the reduction of poverty that may likely ensue through the outbreak of diseases. According to EU/UNICEF reports, 663 million people do not have access to clean water and 2. 4 billion lack access to improved sanitation, 946 million defecate openly, while nine out of 10 people in rural areas defecate openly.