By Rosemary Ogbonnaya
Children from 12,043 households in 11 internally-displaced persons’ (IDP) camps and informal camps/host communities in the Maiduguri Metropolitan City and Jere LGAs of Borno State are accessing basic sanitation and hygiene kits through a new humanitarian cash transfer initiative that supports beneficiaries’ access to hygiene items of their choice, said United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.
UNICEF said the pilot programme aims to demonstrate the effectiveness and acceptance of cash-based interventions in support of IDPs in camps and host communities, as compared to the distribution of pre-determined water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) non-food items.
Newsdiaryonline reported that launched with support from the UK Government’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the Cash4Wash initiative is the first of its kind implemented by UNICEF in Nigeria.
The learnings and experience from the initiative will be used to scale up cash transfers for WASH services to improve access to sanitation and hygiene facilities in humanitarian settings.
The five-month pilot project is being implemented by UNICEF through local partner Centre for Integrated Development and Research (CIDAR). The project supports mostly female-headed households with a 20,000 naira (about USD 40) cash voucher.
“Cash-based interventions help to restore communities’ self-sufficiency, dignity and determination, particularly during crisis situations. Crucially, it will also improve living conditions for children, the most vulnerable in crisis situations,” said Phuong T. Nguyen, UNICEF’s Chief of Field Office in Maiduguri.
“This initiative will provide us with lessons and possible evidence for the potential of cash-based interventions as a way to help displaced families and communities to access water, sanitation and hygiene commodities and services. It will also help to test its effectiveness in helping vulnerable families to access other basic services like nutrition and education in the future,” said Phuong T. Nguyen.
UNICEF, however, explained that in Borno, only 14 per cent of households have access to handwashing facilities and soap,
“Poor hygiene and sanitation have been linked to high infant and child mortality, including dysentery, diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and malnutrition – the underlying cause of nearly 50 per cent of deaths in children under five globally,” said the International Agency.