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The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a loan of USD 100 million to improve water and sanitation in the city of Zaria in northern Nigeria through the African Development Fund, its concessional or ‘soft loan’ arm.
The project will include the rehabilitation, expansion and construction of water and sanitation facilities in the city. Some 1.4 million people will gain improved access to clean water and sanitation. In addition, the project will provide extra benefits for women and girls.
The Zaria water supply expansion and sanitation project will help solve persistent water shortages and inadequate sanitation caused by a fast-growing population and poor infrastructure.
So far only 260,000 people have access to water and safe sanitation and only 150,000 have sanitation. Those figures are forecast to rise to almost 1 million and 450,000 respectively.
Staff at the local Kaduna State Water Board will receive training to build utility management capacity, to ensure the successful operations and the long-term sustainability of the project. While better living conditions and public health will be the main benefits of the project, special attention will be given to ensuring that women and girls are empowered and their particular needs met.
Schools will benefit with the building of more than 1,300 toilets for girl students and 400 toilets for female teachers. A further 200 will be built in the city’s markets and parks. Lack of female sanitation has been a major block to the education of girls and difficulties for females in general.
The project also recognises that women constitute 50 per cent of consumer committees. Women’s groups will receive training on hygiene education and promotion.
Also, institutional capacity building will be offered to staff of the ministry of women affairs and social development to ensure the ministry’s effectiveness in promoting women’s issues and concerns in the water and sanitation sector.
“This project is another example of the Bank’s commitment to supporting more African countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by increasing access to water supply and sanitation” said Sering Jallow, director of the AfDB’s water and sanitation department. “It is also showing the importance for the Bank to accentuate the focus on women and girls to ensure that their needs are considered and better addressed.”
Another special feature of the project is the establishment of a USD million social connection fund to pre-finance water connection fees for those who cannot afford them. A unit at the water board will ensure inclusion and provision of services for poor and marginalised groups. An estimated 10,000 agreements should be signed with 50 per cent of the eligible population by 2016.