BY: Adedayo Adekugbe
The launch of the 2023 Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (W.A.S.H) Innovation Fair & Incubation Programme is definitely redefining the sector in Nigeria.
On Thursday, April 27, at Radisson Blu, Ozumba Mbabadwe, Victoria Island, Lagos, five Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) owners won N3.5 million each with Four months incubation and mentorship programme, at the W.A.S.H Hackathon Innovation fair 2.0.
The W.A.S.H programme is a call to action for individuals, private and public sectors to come together to solve the problems relating to water, sanitation and hygiene in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals Six (SDGs 6) seeks to “Ensure access to water and sanitation hygiene for all” which also aligns with the goal the Federal Government of Nigeria to end open defecation by 2025.
It was organised through the partnership of the Financial Centre for Sustainability, Lagos and the Nigeria Climate Innovation Center (NCIC), is sponsored by IHS, one of the largest independent owners, operators and developers of shared communication infrastructure in the world and FMDQ Group Africa’s foremost vertically integrated financial market infrastructure group.
180 startups initially applied and 80 were shortlisted from which a team of technical judges shortlisted 20 startups.
However, after a rigorous process, five innovators made it to the grand finale. They were awarded the accumulated sum of 17.5 million naira, alongside a four-month handholding mentorship program.
The winners are;
- Schrondinger Tech
- Green Cycle
The programme, which was organised through the partnership of the Financial Centre for Sustainability, Lagos (FC4S LAGOS) and the Nigeria Climate Innovation Centre (NCIC), was sponsored by IHS, one of the largest independent owners, operators and developers of shared communication infrastructure in the world.
Speaking at the event, Engineer Suleiman Adamu, Minister of Water Resources, said that W.A.S.H provides excellent platform for innovators and entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas.
He noted that innovations designed to address challenges of open defecation and enhance access to safe Water, Sanitation and hygiene, was salutary.
‘’It is my hope that these ideas, initiatives are brought to fruition so that the startups can contribute to plug into identified gaps for more effective intervention in the sector.
‘’The theme for this year’s fair, innovation for sustainable growth in the sector is timely, I mean against the backdrop of certain concerns about the shortfalls in the issue to access to safe water.
‘’It is also an important condition and a critical role in the development of the nation’s economy,’’ he said.
According to him, it is a critical component of our nation’s economy, it is essential to exploit globally available opportunities for the resolution of the challenges of the sector.
He said that the water sanitation sector offers immense opportunities for investment, job creation, and poverty reduction.
Adamu said that despite the substantial investments in the sector much more still needs to be done to improve access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene for our citizens.
According to him, “the sector is also beset with myriad of challenges mainly medical infrastructure, capacity, as well as poor service delivery at various levels”.
He said that in 2022, stakeholders had to find investment opportunities, estimated at about 3.8 billion US dollars in the W.A.S.H sectors.
According to him, this represents a significant opportunity that drive innovations and investment and allow opportunities to integrate creative solutions that would contribute to the resolution of identified challenges.
Adamu said that this initiative would further strengthen governance, improving access to safe water, sanitation and services to all Nigerians.
Through this initiative, the country is poised to be among those countries that have developed local innovative solutions, addressing challenges in the WASH sector.
According to him, hopefully these solutions would help strengthen the national action plan for W.A.S.H and help complement other national initiatives, such as partnership to expand the water supply, sanitation and hygiene which was launched in 2016.
The minister said that it was launched as a national collaborative instrument, to mobilise resources and harness efforts towards improving access to water sanitation and hygiene.
Earlier, Dapo Otunla, Chief Corporate Service Officer, IHS Nigeria, said that the organisation is committed to federal government’s plan to end open defecation by 2025.
He further noted that the firm has donated over 3000 books on open defecation to communities across Nigeria as well as installed 13 mechanised solar boreholes across communities.
According to him, about 138 communities have been impacted and over 18000 lives touched all in the effort to achieve the objectives of the WASH initiative.
in her technical presentation, Dr Jane Bevan, Chief WASH, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Nigeria, highlighted the challenges of the W.A.S.H initiative in Nigeria.
She noted that poor investment in W.A.S.H both at the national and sub-national levels were some of the issues affecting the sector in Nigeria.