By Patrick Obia
It was scene of emotion as Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria (RUSHPIN), came to a close in Cross River State.
The review and close-out meeting held in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, the Program Manager of the implementing organisation, United Purpose, Mr. Nanpet Chuktu disclosed that, the transition is to allow more roadmap and Government led initiatives.
RUSHPIN which began seven years ago was aimed at maintaining a good hygiene, menstrual hygiene and eradicating Open Defecation (ODF) in Benue and Cross River State.
The close-out of RUSHPIN was necessitated by the transition of it’s donor, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) to Sanitation and Hygiene Fund (SHF) under new modalities set to start next year.
According to Mr. Nanpet, SHF is to have modalities that will focus not only on hygiene but on sanitation.
“The transition from Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) to Sanitation and Hygiene Fund (SHF) is coming at a critical moment. The organization want to focus beyond just ending open defecation, they want to look at four critical areas of innovation in sanitation; how to take sanitation to scale, how to tackle urban sanitation, how to manage sanitation in primary healthcare centers and how to manage sanitation in schools.
“So because of this, they are now looking for more funding. The organizers want to work directly with the Central Government so they came to Nigeria, to Cross River and say what is your sanitation and hygiene plan? What is your road map? Then they support you and take the components of your road map with that funding you expand and see if you can meet the SDGs. So that is the new modality and that is why they have now requested that we close what we have being doing and plan towards a new program from 2021.
“For Sanitation and Hygiene Fund, you will expect more Government led initiatives, more alignment to it, the Government program and plan. So Cross River State must have a road map and a direction it wants to go in terms of sanitation and hygiene, more activities in Primary Healthcare Centers in ensuring that all PHCs are equipped, more collaborative involvement in schools with the Ministry of Education. Menstrual health and hygiene management is key to this donor and they will like to see how the empowerment of women in terms of understanding and managing their menstrual health and hygiene. So that is the direction.”
In his opening speech, the State Commissioner for Water Resources, Mr. Godwin Ettah said, it is emotional to bid RUSHPIN fair well looking at the successes recorded in water, Hygiene and sanitation as well as Open Defecation (ODF) in the State in a short while.
“lt is emotional, a review meeting of RUSHPIN. RUSHPIN is winding up the sponsorship of this program and they have achieved so much; at the State level, Local Government and Community level, they have helped us out of the six ODF Local Government, they have actively supported Cross River State Government in achieving four. So we are saying a very, very big thank you to them. lt is emotional to hear that after few years the program is coming to an end. It’s a new thing that will reveal strategies, interventions, our achievement so far and see how we can key in those achievements and experiences into a fresh program,” he said.
Others who spoke about the giant strides of RUSHPIN and optimism about SHF include, Local Government Chairmen of Bekwarra, Abi, Biase and Obanliku and the Director Generals of Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency and Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency.
Highpoint of the meeting include interactive session, group photographs, award presentation to first ODF Local Government Area, most resourceful LGA, timely reporting LGA, most resourceful Civil Society Organization, most outstanding WASH Coordinator amongst other categories.
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