The Cross River State coordinator of the Society for Water and Sanitation Network, Mr. Tony Kedang, has said that the state would lose N1.8 billion ($5 million) earmarked to Nigeria for the next phase and expansion of the Rural Sanitation and Hygienic Promotion (RUSHPIN) programme.
Speaking at a press briefing in Calabar, Kedang said the $5 million is a from the United Nations Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council saying the state had failed to remit its counterpart fund of N104 million for the scale up and expansion of the programme.
The RUSHPIN, which is funding the UN programme had, in collaboration with other agencies, jointly supported Obanliku local government area to become the first open defecation-free local government in Nigeria in 2016.
He said the September 30, 2017 deadline set by the federal ministry of water resources had since elapsed.
Kedang said the inability of Cross River State to pay the counterpart fund of N104m before it could access the $5m would affect other states that have indicated interests in the programme.
“Cross River is about to lose $5m which has been earmarked to Nigeria for the next phase and expansion of RUSHPIN programme.
“This is because the September 30, 2017 which was set by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, the coordinating body of RUSHPIN programme for participating states to pay their counterpart fund, has elapsed.
“If the state does not take urgent action, this opportunity will be forfeited to other states that have indicated interest in the programme.
“Cross River has been on the verge of becoming a model for sanitation and hygiene and is on track to becoming the first state in Nigeria that is open defecation-free.
“We are formally appealing to the state government to release the sum of N104 million that had been earmarked and subsequently approved by the governor as the first tranche of counterpart funding to Cross River for scale-up of the local government areas of Obudu,” he said.
Also speaking, a member of the Society for Water and Sanitation, Mrs. Okoho Ene, said there was the likelihood of increased mortality should the state exit the UN programme.
“Otherwise, there will be high rate of mortality and it will increase poverty as the little money in circulation in the rural area will be channelled towards tackling health challenges. Children might end up having increased cases of diarrhoea and dysentery,” he said.
The UN programme contributes to the reduction in sanitation-related diseases and it is currently being implemented in Abi, Bekwarra and Obanliku local government areas of the state.