Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard – Commissioning of Public Sanitation Facility at Kwali Market Ambassador’s Special Self-Help (ASSH) Grant

Good morning everyone!

Thank you for joining us today as we recognize the hard work and dedication of your community as we celebrate and handover this project funded through the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Program.

The Self-Help program started in 1964 in Togo and quickly spread across Africa as a grass-roots assistance program that allows U.S. embassies to respond quickly to local requests for small community-based development projects.  We are proud to be able to offer this worthy support for local community action in Nigeria.

This program is unique as it allows our embassy to impact communities directly and see tangible results within a short period of time – as we are witnessing here in Kwali.  It also allows the community to take charge by determining and prioritizing its needs and implementing the project itself – as you have done.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way: the people of your community had the will, and the people of the United States had the pleasure to provide the way.

Access to clean water and sanitation facilities is unarguably a basic human need, and as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, this need falls at the forefront of developmental priorities.  I applaud you for recognizing this and for taking action that led us to commissioning this facility for your marketplace.

The United States is committed to improving water and sanitation through the U.S. Agency for International Development.  Late last month, USAID signed a $10 million grant to UNICEF that will support a government initiative to improve WASH services for more than 300,000 people in Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara states.

USAID’s assistance will help to build community-centered approaches to deliver, operate, and manage sustainable WASH services in rural areas to strengthen community health and economic stability, and help rebuild needed infrastructure and support community efforts to increase access to proper sanitation, adopt proper hygiene behaviors, and improve water quality.

USAID also helps six states improve administration of their state water agencies through the $60 million Effective Water and Sanitation Services, or E-WASH, activity to improve the health and hygiene of 500,000 families by improving delivery of water and sanitation services through stronger, better performing state water agencies. Reliable access to water underpins health, economic opportunity, and security in every country, and ensuring global access to safe and adequate water for basic needs is now more important than ever. We are pleased that the United States can help address this need here in Kwali market.

I must thank Dr. Taiwo Benson, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Community Health, Rights and Development organization who spearheaded this initiative.  A great part of this project’s success is due to Dr. Benson’s vision, and determination to overcome a number of obstacles through his masterful leadership of the project team.

I also want to recognize the community leaders present here today, for their encouragement, guidance, and support of this essential project for the community under your auspices, whether they be the local vendors, families who live around the market, truck drivers passing through, or farmers who come to Kwali to sell their produce from distant farms.  Through this project you positively affect all in your community, and I congratulate you on your achievement.

I must also mention the dedicated and capable local residents who form the sanitation committee for the facility.  Thank you for taking the time to serve your community in a volunteer capacity doing work critical for the continuation of this initiative.

The United States is Nigeria’s strongest development partner, and through our programs we demonstrate our commitment to all communities in your country.  We are proud to have partnered with this community here in Kwali, and we encourage you to continue doing selfless work and foster the spirit of self-reliance among you.  I am confident that your community can maintain the momentum and establish an ever-progressing environment for your people for many healthy years to come.

I am truly honored to be here with you today, to meet you, see the work you have done and to be able to officially handover this sanitation facility to your community.

I wish you much success, prosperity and good health!