WASH Manager USAID, Dr. Joachim Ezeji (left); Chief of Party, WASH Coordination Project (WCP) Timeyin Uwejamomere; Chairman, Community of Practice Steering Committee, Hosanna Dajan; Deputy Director / Acting National Project Coordinator of National Urban Water Sector Reform Project, Olabode Fashoyi and others at the Public presentation of Urban WASH Community of Practice in Lagos

The WASH Coordination Project (WCP) has launched Nigeria’s first learning platform on urban water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), a Community of Practice (CoP) to facilitate the knowledge exchange within the country’s WASH sector.

To ensure the Community of Practice for Urban WASH in Nigeria is as informative and useful as possible, the WCP Team discussed its design with donors, government officials, development practitioners, utility management, civil society organization representatives, and other interested stakeholders across the country over the span of a year.

In August 2017, Engineer Suleiman Adamu, the Honorable Minister of Water Resources, introduced the Community of Practice at the National Council of Water Resources, in Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria and inaugurated a 10-person Steering Committee comprising of sector professionals in various relevant field of expertise and an adviser to the Committee. In November 2017, with the support of the Steering Committee, the WASH Coordination Project made the CoP Online Learning Platform publicly available.

The CoP is focused on triggering improvements in four critical domains of utility operations: commercial viability; governance and social accountability; citizens’ engagement; and urban sanitation and hygiene. The website, which can be found at this link: https://www.urbanwashcop.ng, includes a Research Center with relevant WASH documents; a Practitioner’s Toolkit with a variety of tools for individuals involved in the provision of WASH services; and an Opportunities page with information on available jobs, tenders, as well as grants within the urban WASH sector in Nigeria; among numerous other resources on urban WASH.

According to Timeyin Uwejamomere, the WCP Chief of Party, utilities that have successfully implemented reforms and, as a result, are closer to offering sustainable services partly attribute this achievement to peer-to-peer learning and knowledge development support.
Mr. Uwejamomere, therefore, hopes the CoP will serve as a learning platform for WASH practitioners to help Nigerian water utilities fast-track the implementation of needed reforms.

In his speech, Engineer Dajan Hossana, the chairperson of the COP Steering Committee noted that the primary purpose of the website is to provide readily available and accessible information on best practices in the WASH sector though the framework of a self-sustaining, demand-driven, and locally appropriate platform to foster dialogue among practitioners to accelerate reforms in the sector.

“The website serves as a resource center for Nigerian urban WASH stakeholders by providing a platform for disseminating practical and relevant information on WASH development, tools, and best practices,” he said.

The WCP is a two-year project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria. The project seeks to achieve the dual benefits of improved health and well-being for Nigerians through increased and more financially sustainable access to WASH services, and to build the confidence of the public in the government’s ability to deliver basic services in Bauchi and Kaduna states. The Development Innovations Group, a U.S.-based firm with offices in Kaduna and Bauchi is the prime implementer of the WCP.

The WCP will support the maintenance of the website until the project ends on October 31, 2018, at which time, a Nigerian entity will become responsible for maintaining the online Community of Practice (CoP), while the Steering Committee(SC) continues to provide oversight on operations. In addition to supporting the WCP to make the CoP website available to the public, the Steering Committee has also worked with the WCP to develop a strategy and manual that will guide the operations of the Community of Practice.

By IJeoma Opara