By Deborah Obot
Bekwarra Local Government Area of Cross River State has been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) community by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Bekwarra became the second LGA in Cross River after Obanliku to be declared ODF after a rigorous process of three stage verification, certification and a final validation by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and National Task Group on Sanitation (NTGS).
The declaration ceremony was held Monday in Calabar, the Cross River State capital at Channel View hotel where the State Government was called upon to meet up with its counterpart funding to scale up the program to include additional three LGA’s (Akamkpa, Obudu and Ogoja).
In his goodwill message, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Mr. Musa Ibrahim said, “I want to use this opportunity to again call on the Cross River State to release the counterpart fund for scale up LGA’s (Akamkpa, Obudu and Ogoja) for the Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria (RUSHPIN) program.”
The Permanent Secretary represented by Mr. Emmanuel Awe, his Director Water Quality and Sanitation added that, “The second implementing State for RUSHPIN, Benue State has charted the part by releasing N50 million as part of its contribution and implementation has kicked off.
“There is enough evidence as occasioned by today’s event to spur the State Government into action, as investment in Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) is a cost effective and preventive measure in protecting the health of the people.”
On his part, the Cross River State Commissioner for Water Resources, Ntufam Gab Odu-Oji said, “The RUSHPIN program is a ground breaking initiative that is transforming the health of over 120, 000 communities in Cross River State and member States across six Local Government Area.”
Represented by the Director General of the State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWATSSA), Mr. Ikpeme Ita-Wier maintained that, “The Cross River State Government, has worked tirelessly in every step to achieve this height, today we are proud to announce that all the Communities in Bekwarra have been certified Open Defecation Free. Counterpart funding is important, this is a remarkable achievement.”
The Water Resources Commissioner concluded without stating why the State hasn’t met up with its counterpart funding.
Chief Anthony Imogbo (JP), Bekwarra Vice Chairman (1999-2002) and Mrs. Cecilia Ray-Etta, Bekwarra immediate Vice Chairman who is a member of RUSHPIN Local Task Group on Sanitation on behalf of Bekwarra Community expressed gratitude to the Federal Government and other partners in the project for their support.