Cross River State may lose $5 million being United Nations’ Fund for the promotion of rural sanitation and hygiene due to non-payment of the counterpart funds, Coalition of Non-Governmental Orgnisation on Sanitation and Hygiene in the State has said.
Mr. Tony Kedang, the Coordinator of Water and Sanitation NGOs in the state, who stated this Tuesday in Calabar, said the September 30 deadline set by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for participating states to pay their counterpart fund has elapsed without the state releasing its share, appealing to Governor Ben Ayade to kindly effect release of the fund.
“The sum N104 million has been earmarked and subsequently approved by the Governor as first tranche of counterpart funding to the Cross River State Rural and Sanitation Agency for the scale up of Obudu, Akamkpa and Ogoja sanitation and hygiene progrramme and failure to respond to this clarion call to release the money will jeopardize the interest of our state.”
According to him, the first phase of the programme started in 2013 and ended in the third quarter of 2017 while the second phase is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2017 and expected to end in 2022.
“The programme targets stopping of open defecation and subsequently the eradication of water borne diseases along with the deaths particularly of children associated with it.”
Kedang stated that the country had set 2025 as the target for the eradication of open defecation and all states of the country are working towards that target which is why Cross River and Benue are chosen as pilot states for the implementation of the programme.
“Nigeria ranks as the third open defecation country in the world after China and India and it is a signatory to the UN inspired Sustainable Development Goals programme which succeeded the Millennium Development Goals with water and sanitation as the main focus of Goal 6 so effort should be made to meet that target,“ the coordinator stated.
He said though the fund is to be implemented by the state’s Rural and Water Sanitation Agency, the NGOs are concerned because if the funds are released more children would die from water-borne related diseases.