Friday, 1 April 2016

Agatu LG Chairman urges FG to resolve farmers/herdsmen crisis in Benue

The Federal Government has been called upon to intensify efforts towards resolving farmers and herdsmen crisis to enable activities to scale up access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Benue succeed.

 Mr Joseph Ngbede, Chairman, Agatu Local Government Area, made this call at a Review Meeting of the Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Nigeria (RUSHPIN) Programme in Makurdi on Thursday.

He said internal and external crises in the council and insecurity of lives has led to a drastic reduction in scaling up access to basic hygiene practices in the council area. He said most volunteers working in the programme implementation stages were losing interest due to recurring conflicts, saying that this trend needed to be reversed.

 “In Agatu Local Government, we are not making much progress at scaling up access to basic sanitation and hygiene. “This is due to incessant attacks and conflicts between the herdsmen and indigenes, we now have Internally Displaced Persons camps.

“Presently, majority of them lack basic hygiene components, there are outbreaks of diseases frequently; we want the Federal Government to come to our aid,” he said.

The council boss commended the Global Sanitation Fund’s RUSHPIN programme, saying that it has led to improved sanitation and hygiene, and has also helped in reducing open defecation communities.

Ngbede urged the Benue Government to pay up its part of the counterpart funds to enable Local Governments benefit in the RUSHPIN programme. Mr Nanpet Chuktu, Programme Manager, Concern Universal, said the RUSHPIN programme, which is in its third year of implementation, has improved sanitation and hygiene attitude in the state with over 185,000 people reached in Agatu, Logo and Gwer East LGAs.

“A lot of people in the three Local Government Areas are now aware of the dangers of defecating in the open. “The people are now informed about the importance of building and using their toilets, so it is commendable, however, much more can be achieved.”

 He said the purpose of the meeting was to review the RUSHPIN programme results in Benue, and highlight areas of strength and profer solutions where there are weaknesses. Chuktu also said it was an opportunity to share with the wider WASH sector, lessons and best practices on Sanitation and Hygiene.

He said the meeting would also enhance participants’ knowledge on how to advocate on proven approaches that would help to make Benue an Open Defecation Free state. Mr Ella Ejembi, General Manager, Benue State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (BERWASSA), said the state had developed a draft Roadmap which aims at declaring Benue Open Defecation Free by 2025.

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