The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that children from 12,043 households, in 11 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, in Maiduguri were now accessing basic sanitation, hygiene.
A press statement on Thursday by the Communication Officer of UNICEF Maiduguri Field Office, Folashade Adebayo, said the development was made possible by the UNICEF, UK Government Cash4Wash Initiative where cash transfer was made to support beneficiaries to access hygiene products.
“The pilot programme aims to demonstrate the effectiveness and acceptance of the cash-based intervention in support of IDPs in camps and host communities, as compared to the distribution of pre-determined water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) non-food items.
“Launched with support from the UK Government’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the Cash4Wash initiative is the first of its kind to be implemented by UNICEF in Nigeria.
“The learnings and experience from the initiative would be used to scale up cash transfers for WASH services, to improve access to sanitation and hygiene facilities in humanitarian settings.
“Improved access to hygiene items would mean enhanced ability of families and communities to avert and mitigate outbreaks of illnesses like cholera and diarrhoea and the transmission of COVID-19.
“Cash-based transfers have the potential to not only increase access to WASH services in humanitarian settings, but also to support the local economy, as cash is spent in local markets.
“Displaced households in north-east Nigeria, living with high rates of open defecation and low rates of handwashing, are at a higher risk of disease outbreak and preventable deaths.
“Left with no livelihood opportunity, these families lack disposable incomes to purchase basic hygiene materials, including sanitary towels, water containers, face masks, toothpaste, cups and soap for handwashing, bathing, laundry and other cleaning,” the statement noted.
The statement observed that in Borno, the 2020 WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping showed that only 14 per cent of households had access to handwashing facilities and soap.
Poor hygiene and sanitation had been linked to high infant and child mortality, including disease like dysentery, diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and malnutrition that led to underlying cause of nearly 50 per cent of deaths in children under five globally.
“The five-month pilot project is being implemented by UNICEF, through a local partner, Centre for Integrated Development and Research (CIDAR). The project supports mostly female-headed households with a N20,000 (about USD 40) cash voucher.
“Cash-based interventions help to restore communities’ self-sufficiency, dignity and determination, particularly in crisis situations.
Crucially, it will also improve living conditions for children, the most vulnerable in crisis situations,” the statement quoted Phuong Nguyen, the UNICEF’s Chief of Maiduguri Field Office, as saying.
Ms Nguyen also noted that the initiative would provide lessons and possible evidence for the potentials of cash-based interventions as a way to help displaced families and communities to access water, sanitation and hygiene commodities and services.
Similarly, it would help to test its effectiveness in helping vulnerable families to access other basic services like nutrition and education in the future, she added. (NAN)
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