The USAID funded WASH Coordination Project (WCP) on the 6th of March commenced a 3-day joint orientation retreat for the members of the Boards of Directors of both Kaduna State Water Corporation (KADSWAC) and the Bauchi State Water and Sewerage Corporation (BSWSC).
The retreat is designed to support both the newly appointed members of both Boards to better understand water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) issues and their state-based processes and laws, in the effort to improve WASH service delivery as well as prepare the water corporations for further reforms in Bauchi and Kaduna.
The orientation retreat, which held in Kano, focused on strengthening corporate governance within KADSWAC and BSWSC, the Ministry of Water Resources’ top management, and the state regulatory institutions. This will, in turn, promote the corporations’ relationship with their stakeholders as well as their profitability, efficiency, credibility and financial stability.
WCP is a 2-year program being implemented by the Development Innovations Group (DIG). The project is designed to strengthen urban water, sanitation and Hygiene programming in Nigeria to improve the health and well-being of Nigerians as well as increase the confidence of Nigerians towards government’s ability to deliver basic services.
The project, in the past 14 months have been providing support to Nigeria’s urban WASH utilities in Bauchi and Kaduna by delivering capacity building training to staff of both corporations and civil societies; gathering and presenting relevant baseline data across on sanitation and CSO participation; and providing technical assistance to improve understanding of factors serving as obstacles to delivering WASH services. For instance, the WCP has been developing a community of practice to help the sector become a learning network, as a way of promoting shared knowledge to drive sector’s effectiveness and efficiency.
The highpoint of the retreat was a presentation by Mr. Ezekiel Gomos, the director of Jos Business School, on Corporate Governance with respect to government established corporations. Gomos called for a paradigm shift, for board members to see the water corporations more as business entities who are supposed to generate profits, show transparency and accountability, rather than just as government parastatals who may be providing unsustainable services to the public. The presentation drew examples from several organizations and countries where issues of governance showed direct (positive and negative) impacts on organizations’ abilities to deliver required services.
According to the WCP’s Chief of Party, Mr. Timeyin Uwejamomere, ‘the exercise will orientate the BoDs on the guiding laws, policies, and activities of the corporations, and help build a cordial working relationship, rapport, and team spirit among the group.’ The Chief of Party went on to encourage the corporations to begin to think on ways in which they can win back the markets from informal water vendors.
Uwejamomere pointed out that the retreat was positioned to strengthen oversight functions of the Boards by bringing members of the Boards together to help them gain knowledge on existing bottlenecks and/or conflict areas and the ways to address them.
The Kaduna State Commissioner for Water Resources, Dr. Ibrahim Hamza, who declared the event open, stated that both state governments are doing their best, but their bests are not enough to solve all the problems. According to Dr. Hamza, ‘USAID has done a lot by providing a strong coordination through the WCP, urging participants to sit down attentively, listen to all presentations and make meaningful contributions that will help the corporations improve on their services when they return to the states.
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