L- R: Head, Public Policy and Government Affairs, Etisalat Nigeria, Mohammed Suleh -Yusuf; Baale of Ijeun Lukosi Community, Chief Benjamin Ogunbona with his wife, Florence Ogunbona and Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility, Etisalat Nigeria, Oyetola Oduyemi during the Community Sanitation Support Programme in Abeokuta Ogun State
Poor personal hygiene and unclean environment are common causes of cholera, diarrhea and other diseases in most rural communities across nations of the world. In developing countries like Nigeria, improper waste disposal remains a serious public health issue in many communities.
According to Wikipedia, “globally 2.6 billion people remain without access to any kind of improved sanitation, and sanitation-related diseases and poor hygienic conditions cause approximately 2.2 million annual deaths, mostly of children under the age of five years.”
A report by the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2012 also showed that, although 1.8 billion more people adopted improved sanitary measures in 2010 than in 1990, bringing the percentage to 63% globally, the world however did not achieve the sanitation target of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. The report therefore urged increased commitment of governments, residents and stakeholders to improved sanitation and clean environment in the communities.
Many corporate organisations including Etisalat Nigeria have responded positively to this call by launching initiatives that address poor sanitation and environmental conditions in communities. Recently the telco again affirmed its commitment to this cause by launching its Community Sanitation Support Programme (CSSP) in Ogun, Oyo and Kwara States. The initiative was launched in collaboration with HEDA Resource Centre and governments of the three states respectively. The beneficiary communities included Ijeun Lukosi community in Abeokuta, Ogun State; Ehin-Grammar community in Molete, Ibadan, Oyo State and Adewole-Adeta community in Ilorin, Kwara State.
At Ijeun Lukosi community, Etisalat constructed a water borehole for the community with the objective of ensuring access of the residents to clean and safe water. It also empowered the community as well as Ehin-Grammar community in Molete, Ibadan and Adewole-Adeta community in Ilorin by donating waste disposal bins and other ancillary items to them. Furthermore, the company also provided training for 10 ‘Waste Management Champions’ in each of the communities and presented them with smartphones, SIM cards and airtime to boost communication.
Speaking about the initiative which launched across the three communities, Head, Public Policy and Government Affairs, Mohammed Suleh-Yusuf, disclosed that the key objective of the CSSP initiative was to promote the culture of hygiene and environmental preservation among Nigerians so they can continue to live healthier lives and be more productive at all times. He added that it also demonstrated Etisalat’s commitment to building sustainable societies by implementing initiatives that foster development across all strata in line with the key objectives of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. “At Etisalat, we are passionate about doing things in innovative ways so we can impact people and communities positively. Our CSSP initiative aligns with this vision of continuous innovation to drive development”, Suleh-Yusuf stated.
Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility, Oyetola Oduyemi, said CSSP further underlined Etisalat’s vision of promoting cleanliness, healthy living, and environmental preservation in Nigeria. “The CSSP aligns with our Corporate Social Responsibility focus which is executed under three broad platforms: Education, Health and Environment. Community sanitation is very important because we need to preserve the environment for the present and future generations. We have realised that if we focus on providing education, contribute to the health of the people, but fail to preserve the planet, the gains would be lost in the long run”, she said.
Stakeholders including senior government officials and community leaders commended Etisalat for the CSSP initiative, and said it was a positive intervention that other corporate bodies should emulate. Kwara State Commissioner for Environment, Otunba Taiwo Johnson, who was represented by the Deputy Director on Environment, Gabriel Towoju, said, “This is laudable, and I encourage others to join hands with the government in promoting clean and healthy environments. Through effective synergy, we will all ensure our society is in perfect state of harmony with nature where all of us live together peacefully.”
Commissioner for Environment in Ogun State, represented by Alhaji Oduntan Owolabi, encouraged the residents to take personal hygiene seriously so they can stay free of avoidable communicable diseases. “What Etisalat has brought to this community is something that deserves applause and emulation. This is so because they have not only imparted the knowledge for healthy living, but they have also provided the tools required”, he said.
A community leader at Ehin-Grammar community in Molete, Ibadan, Gbolagade Ajara, commended Etisalat for the intervention, and said the large turnout of residents at the event underscored the relevance of the CSSP initiative to the people. Similarly, Agbaakin of Ijeun Lukosi community, Chief Femi Soneye, said the initiative would go a long way in bringing about real development in the country.
Executive Director, Human and Environmental Developmental Agenda, Sulamian Arigbabu, said maintaining a clean environment is the responsibility of everyone because poor sanitation and unsafe environments can cause illness thereby affecting people’s productivity.
Since its launch in Nigeria in 2008, Etisalat has been supporting community development across Nigeria through various initiatives including the Community Schools Support Programme (CSSP) under which it distributed back-to-school kits to 1000 primary school pupils across 10 primary schools in three North-East states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa in 2016. Also under its Community Skills Set Programme (CSSP), the telco empowered 100 individuals with basic life skills to help them maximise their potentials through the establishment of startup businesses. The beneficiaries were drawn from six communities across four states in the South-East and South-South regions.