By Abujah Racheal
The Delta Government has met its required 30 per cent counterpart funding for the European Union (EU) N2.4 billion grant for the water project in the Niger Delta region.
Mr Albert Achten, the leader of the EU experts’ team, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
NAN recalls that the initiative, under the aegis of the Niger Delta Support Programme (NDSP) had been ongoing for sometime but needed to be sustained.
NDSP was designed to be implemented from 2013 to 2017.
It is intended to mitigate the conflict in the region by addressing the main causes of unrest and violence such as bad governance, youth unemployment and poor delivery of basic services.
According to Achten, four of the five beneficiary states in the Niger Delta had yet to meet their own counterpart funding to enjoy the grant.
“These states are Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Edo and Rivers. If they fail to pay the required 30 per cent counterpart funding, they will lose the grant.
“For instance, Delta State is right now at the procurement stage and in no time they will be able to access the grant.”
Achten said that the EU and UNICEF had signed a five-year contribution agreement to boost rural water and sanitation project in the Niger Delta region.
He, therefore, appealed to the affected state governors to ensure that they meet their counterpart funding requirement to avoid losing the grant before the end of 2016.
He said the project was important as it is expected to contribute to conflict mitigation in the region by improving access to basic social services.
“This project will support the state government and the rural water sanitation institutions in the five states to develop and implement needed reforms in the sector.
“It will also deliver sustainable water supply, sanitation and hygiene services within the communities and schools.”
Achten said the roles and responsibilities of partners under the programme were being worked out just as the cost-sharing arrangements and coordination mechanism.
“The water and sanitation component of this programme is mainly to enhance access to safe, adequate and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services.
“This component is already active in the five states and we are taking two local government areas per state,”Achten said.