The poor state of water and sanitation facilities in most Nigerian primary and secondary schools is a leading factor for declining health, reduced productivity and decreased learning outcomes among children of school age and this has irrepressible consequences on their individuality, families and their communities. Not many NGOs in the country
Daniel Falonipe is the founder of the NYAW and Nigerian Delegate to the World Youth Parliament for water. In this interview with YNaija’s Impact365, he shares the events from his childhood that led him to setting up the NGO, partnerships with international bodies and the communities in which the NGO has commissioned water projects.
Please tell us more about the Nigeria Youth Action for Water
The Nigeria Youth Action for Water was founded in 2014 as a youth volunteer network with a goal to engage and stimulate young people in the discourse around sustainable management and use of water resources and the accompanying effects of lack of such. The NYAW operates in 3 focal areas namely: Awareness raising, Advocacy and Local action, all in line with the goals of the World Youth Parliament for Water (WYPW) which serves as the umbrella organization.
What informed your decision to set up the NGO?
In 2014, I was appointed as the Nigerian delegate to the World Youth Parliament for Water which is a global network of young people who are committed to advocating for youth participation in the water sector and support the implementation of specific actions for water led by young people. The need to stem down the activities of the WYPW coupled with my urge to inspire change and give back to the environment we were raised in informed my decision to found NYAW. Growing up wasn’t all rosy, getting clean water was like going to war and those challenges still exist today, maybe worse – infrastructural decay, policy failures etc. Though the statistics look frightening but we believe strongly that no matter how small, our impact will count for something, and that is our motivation.
What are the projects you’ve embarked on and how far have you taken your campaign to?
Ensuring that every community has access to clean water and sanitation stands at the center of our activities and in line with this, we have sought support locally and internationally to execute our various projects. So far, we have completed 3 water and sanitation projects in Osun and Ondo states currently serving communities and schools, also, we have successfully launched awareness campaigns around the context of water, sanitation and hygiene with positive feedbacks. We are currently at the execution phase of our WaSH for Education Project/Campaign in partnership with the Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative (AREAi), this is a replicable project which seeks to provide access to WaSH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) services in primary and secondary schools across Nigeria. The pilot project will be executed in Apete Community Secondary School, Apete, Ibadan and supported by the Youth Action for Sustainable Water and Environment (YASWE), a Swiss-based, Youth-led foundation. With continued support of agencies, Governments and unwavering commitment of our volunteers, we hope expand our reach as speedily as possible.
Can you provide statistics of the number of Nigerian communities that lack access to clean water?
There is hardly anywhere in the country that one would not find a water-stressed community. To put it simply, it is a national crisis. According to a recent report by WaterAid, at least, 57milion Nigerians lack access to clean water, a greater percentage of which lives in rural communities and villages.
What are the adverse effects of this lack of access, for the community and the nation?
Although it sounds cliché, but it still stands true – Water is life! Water is at the center of man’s existence with its use cutting across several industries and sectors – Agriculture, Energy, Transportation, Construction, Manufacturing, Health, etc. – all these are drivers of any economy.
In rural communities, lack of access to (clean) water means that a child would walk long distances to fetch from streams resulting in missed school hours thereby dimming the potentials of such child and a continued cycle of poverty. Women and children are often the victims of lack of water sources, spending countless hours which could have been diverted to more important economic activities on just fetching water. In Nigeria, around 45,000 children under five years old die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.
Has NYAW reached out to IDPs in Nigeria’s North East as regards provision of safe water and toilets?
The NYAW has not independently reached out to the IDPs but has contributed to research and information gathering on WaSH situation in camps. As we grow in capacity, we plan to make this a major part of our work.
What are the long-term goals for the NGO?
The NYAW will continue to intensify efforts through partnerships and collaborations to ensure that in the near future we are able to engage young people from all ethnic and religious backgrounds around the context of WaSH, foster a community where young people can be inspired to create change in their own ways regardless of the enormousness of the impact, and finally, contribute to the process of ensuring that every community is well served with clean water and adequate sanitation.
Your pop culture/entertainment go-to. Music head. Wallflower. I do not like to write. On a mission to decipher covfefe.