Karu, Nigeria, 30 November 2021 – Residents of six Nigerian communities are now beneficiaries of a UN-Habitat project to collect COVID-19 data and provide emergency water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health, and other urban planning interventions services.

The project, which started December 2020, has several components, some of which have been completed while others are ongoing. The overall project is part of UN-Habitat Regional Office for Africa’s COVID-19 Response and Resilient Recovery strategy and was implemented in partnership with Tulsi Chanrai Foundation and the Karu Local Government.

An estimated 100,000 residents of the six Karu communities are being served by the WASH facilities in the communities of Masaka, Ado, Uke, Keffin Sanu, Kugbaru, and Koso. Beneficiaries are nearly equally divided between males and females.

UN-Habitat Programme Management Officer in Nigeria, Paul Okunlola, explaining the basis for the project, said, “Following a needs assessment exercise involving direct interaction with various communities in the local government area and in consultation with each community, the six locations were selected and WASH committees (WASHCOMs) were constituted to oversee the management, maintenance and fair usage of the facilities upon completion.”

Karu is a densely populated local government area in Nasarawa state which shares borders with the federal capital Abuja from where a substantial proportion of the population commute daily into the capital, which has the second highest rate of COVID-19 infections in the country.

At the community level, the COVID-19 WASH intervention is also directly serving 3,466 children under 17 years (1,701 males, 1,765 females), 6,638 school children (3,168 males, 3,470 females) from six schools within the communities, six markets and six religious centres, as well as two primary health centres at Uke and Ado.

At the household level, the new water facilities have resulted in savings for benefitting households who now have free access to water rather than having to pay USD 2 per jerry-can, while also reducing the time spent fetching water by households due to the close proximity of water sources.

The data collection aspect will have an emphasis on COVID-19 and development of a planning tool to be applied in Karu local government; the activity will include tools co-production and on-the-job capacity building of concerned local institutions to support the resilient recovery process.

Chairman of Karu local government, Samuel Akala Gajere, urged the communities “to take ownership of the project to ensure that the facilities are well taken care of. I commend the Implementing partners for the quality of work done and pledged closer collaboration between the Local Government and UN-Habitat.”

Okunlola added that “The intervention also entailed securing the health and enhancing the dignity of labour of all registered solid waste collectors within the Greater Karu Area by providing them with Safety Kits, in alignment with our slogan at UN-Habitat, which says: “Water is Life, Sanitation is Dignity.”