The European Union ( EU ) on Wednesday inaugurated 956,000 euros (about 4.3 billion naira) projects in support of Person With Albinisms ( PWAs ), provision of water and sanitation management in the Niger Delta.
The EU Head of Delegation and Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Ketil Karlsen, said this in an interview with our correspondent at the end of project inauguration ceremony in Abuja.
Karlsen said that the projects were part of EU activities to promote, protect human rights in Nigeria and mitigate the conflict in Niger Delta region by addressing the cause of unrest and violence.
“The EU is signing four projects with Civil Society Organisations to provide services in the Niger Delta in water and sanitation management to increase access for the locals.
“Another one is launching a support programme for the Albino Foundation which is a wonderful project that we are really following up on a resolution from the EU parliament.
“This stressed the importance of EU working with the people with Albinism in Africa to improve their rights and to deepen their opportunity,” he said.
He said one of the projects was funded under European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights ( EIDHR ) programme, while the others were funded under component three of the Niger Delta Support Programme ( NDSP ).
According to him, the projects have a total funding of 956,000 euros and to be implemented over a period of five years.
He said the overall objective of the EIDHR was to help civil society organizations become an effective force for political reform and defense of human right.
“So this is another example of the close collaboration of EU with CSOs and authority in Nigeria because we know that the chain is as strong as the weakest link.
“So we always advocate for civil society, the international community and the authority alike to approach some of the challenges that we have seen in Nigeria and some other places.”
He said the Component 3 of the NDSP was aimed to increase access to safe, adequate and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene service delivery to an underserved population in five EU approved Niger-Delta states.
The states, according to him, are Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo, and Rivers.
He said the implementing entities include state ministries responsible for water, UNICEF, Messer SAFEGE SRLS and four local CSOs
According to him, the choice of the projects is because water management and sanitation are vital for the livelihood of people.
“Without good health, people cannot go to schools, they will not learn well, so this is part of a wider development of securing the wider opportunity for ordinary Nigerians.
“So, this is something that is producing a tangible and specific result that can be seen with our bare eyes and I think working with people with albinism is part of what has been done in the past.
“And I think one of the wonderful things that this project will bring about is more clarity of what is the actual situation of the people with albinism.
“How many people are there all together, what are the needs and difficulties and of course without having that point of departure, it is very difficult to design necessary policy for them.”
He said some of the projects would last about 28 months while some would last less.
“However, what is important is how to ensure the long-lasting effect of the projects and ensure their sustainability.
“This is one of the discussions that we need to have with our partners that how do we secure the impact of the project that when the last euros has been paid.
“And that is about advocacy, about awareness, building on best practices and multiplier effect,” he said.
President of Albino Foundation in Nigeria, Mr. Jake Eppele, a beneficiary commended the EU for the initiative.
Eppele said the project was to provide access to social services for persons with Albinism in Nigeria.
He said the project was also to provide legal reform to improve the situation of people living Albinism.
Mr. Benjamin Ogbalor, Project Coordinator, Initiative for Community Development, a CSO, said his project was aimed at improving the living condition of the population of people in Isoko Local Government of Delta.
“This is to enhance safe access, adequate, equitable and sustainable water supply, sanitation and hygiene services aiming to provide support for the peace process, conflict prevention and local governance,’’ Ogbalor said.