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Improving sanitation, water supply in Nigeria

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By Mercy Kelani

Poor hygiene causes morbidity in children and high mortality rates.

Sanitation, water and hygiene facilities are necessary for welfare and health. Provision of these facilities is one of the major responsibilities of the state. The funding for these projects in Nigeria is gotten from the government’s budget and development partners. Aids are provided by the US Agency for International Development, UNICEF, the European Union and the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office. Report from UNICEF accounted that the government and the international development partners invested the sum of $188.3 million for sanitation projects between 2014 and 2017 in Nigeria.

However, the report stated that Nigeria is still ranked among the top three countries worldwide that has a high number of people living without sanitation and clean water. Statistically, 24 percent engage in open defecation, 68 percent have access to basic water availability, and 19 percent use safe sanitation facilities. Poor hygiene and sanitation and unhealthy water supply are few causes of morbidity among children under age five and high mortality rate in Nigeria. These factors fuel the exposure to waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid.

2007 Act to regulate public-sector contracts on facilities.

There have been enactments of public procurement reforms for regulation of the misuse of rules, standards and processes in the delivery and awarding of public-sector contracts. In spite of the reforms, the elimination of the huge deficits in the sectors of sanitation and water through transparent, accountable, cost-effective and competitive procurement mediums has become more arduous. Based on a recent publication, data showed that UNICEF funded sanitation projects in some selected local government areas. Argument has been made on this showing that the procurement regulation is being used to make money from the delivery sector in the service.

In 2007, a procurement law was enacted in Nigeria. This Act, The Public Procurement Act 2006, introduced a sense of regulation in Nigeria to this process. Before the enactment of this Act, public procurement at the federal level and the state level were not guided by any law. It was set to evaluate the abuse in delivering and awarding public sector contracts. Awarding public-sector contracts, according to Section 24 (3) of the 2007 Act, requires that the bidder meets the contract’s terms and conditions.

Acceptance of lowest bids impedes involvement of trusted firms.

Concentration was, therefore, paid on how this practice weakened the deployment of sanitation projects in Nigeria. Field data were drawn from sanitation projects in Nigerian states: Yobe, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Benue, Katsina, Anambra, Jigawa, Bauchi, and Bayelsa. The procuring entities were parastatal organisations, ministries, corporations, government agencies and extra-ministerial offices. Between 2013 and 2019, UNICEF-funded projects were awarded by them to the lowest responsive bidders — contractors. Sanitation and water facilities were meant to be provided by the projects.

It was observed that affluent individuals keep contract sums as a medium to maintain the procuring procedures. Apparently, they diverted contracts and its sum to incompetent parties that eventually did a substandard work or failed to do the work at all. The report revealed the poor or substandard work of the acquisition entities. In contrast to the responsibility of the legislation to ensure wider participation in contract management, it was discovered that the acceptance of the lowest bid reduced the involvement of tested, credible and trusted firms that are known for their quality delivery of work, services and goods.

Loopholes have been discovered in the 2007 Act.

Also, quality work will be more costly than the lowest bid. It is possible that the procurement law could have made provisions for bidding that have good reputation, experience and quality. This has affirmed that there are loopholes in the law by lawmakers. Additionally, esteemed firms are apparently not capable of being awarded contracts due to their inaccessibility to powerful actions within the state. These esteemed and reputable individuals use the bidding mechanism to get involved in sharp practices, but at the end the outcome is substandard and low quality service delivery.

Related Link

UNICEF: Website

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