In its largest ever grant to a UNICEF project, Europe aids Nigerian water supply

12 September 2005

A new donation of €33 million (euros) – about $41.4 million – will help provide safe drinking water for 2.1 million people across 1,400 rural communities in Nigeria, representing the largest ever grant from the European Union (EU) to a single project assisted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

A new donation of €33 million (euros) – about $41.4 million – will help provide safe drinking water for 2.1 million people across 1,400 rural communities in Nigeria, representing the largest ever grant from the European Union (EU) to a single project assisted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The project, which also supports hygiene education, improved sanitation and safe water supply in 120 schools, is part of a larger EU-funded water and sanitation programme in urban centres, small towns and rural areas in six states of the country.

It is also part of a major effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease in Nigeria. The disease is contracted through drinking water contaminated with microscopic fleas carrying larvae that develop into worms as long as three feet which can cripple children and stop them from going to school.

“Water is key for children’s development,” said UNICEF’s representative in Nigeria Ayalew Abai. “Diarrhoeal diseases continue to have a very high prevalence rate in the country and Guinea Worm disease has not yet been eradicated.

“Studies also show that water and sanitation in school contribute to higher enrolment, especially for girls,” he added.

At present in Nigeria, only 60 per cent of households have access to improved drinking water sources, while access to adequate sanitation facilities remains low. The situation contributes to high child mortality rates, according to UNICEF.

 

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