By Asmau Ahmad
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said that it had enabled nearly 60 million people to have access to safe drinking water globally.
Ms Michelle Corzine, Director of the Office of Economic Growth and Environment, disclosed this at a USAID-funded Water for Agriculture (WFA) Activity Closeout and Dissemination event in Abuja.
The activity was implemented by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and its numerous partners, among which are Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) and Pastoral Resolve, among others.
According to her, access to clean water, as well as food security, are key priorities of the United States (U.S.) government.
“Through USAID’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, we have partnered with governments, NGOs and research institutions to transform food systems globally and to lift an estimated 23.4 million people out of poverty.
“In Nigeria, USAID recognised the importance of access to water for consumption and agricultural use, thus, our water for agriculture activity, implemented by our partner CRS.
“Also, we involve in addressing some challenges by increasing access to water for smallholder farmers and livestock herders and strengthening the governance and management of water resources,” she said.
Speaking earlier, the Country Representative of CRS, Mr Paul Townsend, said CRS had worked in Nigeria for more than 25 years, implementing health, emergency response, agriculture, and livelihood programmes in 35 states of the federation.
“CRS partners with the Catholic Church, other faith-based and community-based organisations, the private sector, local and international Non-Governmental Organisations, and government institutions.
“We partner to implement a range of programmes to build the resilience of vulnerable communities. All of CRS’ projects are made possible with the generous contributions of many private individuals and organisations.
“This has enabled us to reach approximately 80 million participants in Nigeria with much-needed assistance in the year 2022,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Ekramul Kabir, Project Chief of Party, said that the idea behind the project was to provide equitable access to adequate and sustainable water from July 2019 to July 2023.
“The big idea behind the project was the provision of equitable access to adequate and sustainable water resources. This can unlock the North East agricultural potential and reduce violent competition.
“WFA is a four-year activity founded by USAID, improved access to water for small-scale farmers and herders by proving water points.
“This is important for growing crops and livestock, in the North Eastern Region of Nigeria namely; Borno, Yobe and Adamawa respectively from July 2019 to July 2023.
Representatives of the governments of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states applauded the intervention by USAID, CRS, and others, saying that access to water has improved livelihoods through agricultural activities.
Key programme areas targeted include Health System Strengthening, Emergency Response and Recovery, Agriculture, Livelihood and Resilience.
It was reported that about 80 million people in Nigeria had been reached with essential services as of 2022 just as 96,607 people from vulnerable households received food assistance.
Also, 13,879 lives were saved amongst under five children via malaria intervention.