THE national youth volunteer programme for hand washing and clean Nigeria campaign for COVID-19 prevention has been flagged off in Anambra State.
The ceremony was performed in Conference Hall of Ministry of Public Utilities, Awka, on behalf of Gov. Willie Obiano by Commissioner for Public Utilities, Emeka Ezenwanne.
Speaking at the event, he explained that the programme which, will engage over 2,000 youths as sanitation and hygiene ambassadors round the state for three months, will centre on the importance of safe water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) practices for COVID-19 prevention in the state.
He also recalled that a team from the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and National Taskforce on Hygiene, after their work in Anambra East Local Government Area, declared the area open defecation-free, which made it the only local government in the entire South East that is free of open defecation on March 31.
He commended the Federal Ministry of Water Resources for recognising the fact that he has declared a state of emergency on WASH, assuring that he is committed to ensuring that all the local governments in the state are free of open defecation.
In his address, Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, represented by Mrs. Chinyere Obiano, revealed that the National Youth Volunteer Programme is one of the interventions of the federal government through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
Engineer Adamu said that it would involve the engagement of 100 youth volunteers in each of the 774 local government areas across the country, for community sensitization and awareness creation on safe water, sanitation and hygiene practices for COVID-19 prevention over a three months period.
On her part, the UNICEF WASH Manager, Mammita Thakkar said the programme marked a major step towards running WASH at the centre stage of COVID-19 response, with hand washing and hygiene as the pillars.
She maintained that UNICEF will partner the state government to build capacities and skills of the volunteers on water and sanitation, social mobilisation techniques, hygiene promotion approaches, to ensure that they deliver on their core mandate.
In her goodwill message, the Chairman of Havilah Clean Environmental Foundation, a consultant for the programme, Pastor Gbemiga Olakunle, represented by Mrs. Ugochi Freeman observed that government expenditures on public health issues, especially in combating COVID-19 and its spread will be drastically reduced if due attention is paid for the prevention of the outbreak of such diseases by maintaining clean environment through proper advocacy and enlightenment campaigns.
On his part, the traditional ruler of Umueri, Igwe Ben Emeka, assured that he will continue to drive the campaign on the importance of hygiene in his community to curb coronavirus pandemic.
In a vote of thanks, Emeka Anigbogu, who represented youths on the occasion, promised that they will be good ambassadors of WASH by taking the message down to the grassroots.