The United Nations noted that for developing countries to provide potable water for their citizens, they would need to spend $103 billion per year. But while the world celebrated Water Day yesterday, BIOLA AZEEZ, HASSAN IBRAHIM, JOHNSON BABAJIDE, JUDE OSSAI and OLAYINKA OLUKOYA relate the frustration of Nigerians on the persistent lack of potable water from the savannah part of the North to the cold corridors of the South.
WITH the rising human population, many developing nations are faced with varied challenges. One of this has been the appropriate handling, availability and distribution of potable water supply. Nigeria appears not to be exempted from this setback despite its being a largely coastal area.
In many parts of the country, the larger part of the population resort to digging boreholes and engaging self-help projects with the intent of providing themselves with potable water. The cost of this has risen, inadvertently raising the level of occurrences of pipe-borne water related diseases.
Sunday Tribune’s findings revealed that, indeed, across the states of the federation there are pipes laid out to supply water to homes and offices but these pipes even if they are not rusty hardly bring forth water.
Some of them, whenever they do, gust out in gutters and drainage where the needy go to scoop it. This is the pathetic experience of most Nigerians.
In Ilorin, residents resort to self-help
Many parts of Ilorin, capital of Kwara State, streets and adjoining residences are connected with water pipes meant to supply potable water to homes but findings by Sunday Tribune reveal that burst, unrepaired pipes have often served as one of the barriers to supply of potable water to homes.
Residents of many communities in the area stated that supply of potable water by the state water corporation has not been quite regular in recent times, leading to the sinking of boreholes and the digging of wells both for private and commercial purposes.
The state governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, spoke about the daunting water situation during this year’s budget presentation to the state House of Assembly. According to him, “Our policy thrust on water supply is to ensure that potable water is accessible within 500 meters radius for every resident in the State.
“To this end, 13 water works were rehabilitated during the out-going fiscal year. These include Rogun, Megida, Ilesha-Baruba, Kaiama, Gwanara, Lafiagi, Afon, Ojoku, Agbeyangi, Pampo, Obbo-Aiyegunle, and Ajasse-Ipo. In addition, reconstruction work on Share/Tsaragi water scheme continued during the year.”
But residents insist that the situation has not improved and the resort to self help will continue.
Water scarcity bites harder in Zaria —former water commissioner
In Kaduna, things appear not be entirely different from most parts of the country as residents claim that potable water remains a mirage.
Speaking on the water problem in Kaduna State, a former commissioner of water resources, Marshall Katung told Sunday Tribune that “my major challenge as Commissioner of Water Resources was providing potable water in one form or the other to at least every local government area in the state. But with particular reference to Zaria. Having grown up partly in Zaria, there is no urban town in the state where the lack of water is felt like Zaria. Being a school community, every student who went through Zaria will definitely have stories to tell. I am glad government is making concerted efforts to make the dream of supplying water to at least eight (8) local governments including Zaria and Sabon Gari a reality vide the construction of the 150 MLD water treatment plants which are almost at completion stage.”
Speaking on the same issue, Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero stated that “In our bid to improve water supply in urban and semi urban towns of the state the sum of N3.5billion was drawn from the National Urban Water Sector Reform Projects (NUWSRP) between January and September 2013 for the completion of ongoing rehabilitation works and network distribution in Kaduna, Zaria, Kafanchan/Kagoro, Zonkwa and Saminaka Water Supply.”
Like residents in Kwara State, Kaduna dwellers told Sunday Tribune that their expectations in time past were cut short and that respite was still far away.
Benue presents an irony of scarcity
At the mention of Benue State, two things readily come to mind, one, is the agrarian nature of the state with its abundance of food security which however earn the state the slogan ‘ food basket of the nation’, an indication that the state is naturally blessed to feed the nation with no iota of doubt if adequately harnessed.
The second aspect of it is River Benue by which the state derives its name. With the river it is expected that residents, particularly those in capital city of Makurdi, will have no cause to record shortage of potable water but residents maintained that they are unable to afford potable water.
What mostly welcomes a first timer to the capital city of Food basket of the Nation is the presence of water truck pushers popularly called meruwa.
They serve water vendors and residents depend on them for water supply.
Information pieced together revealed that they source the water from private boreholes and often from River Benue. This, in most cases, results in water borne diseases such as cholera and others; those largely vulnerable are residents of Wadata, North Bank and environs where potable water is scarce.
But in an interaction with Sunday Tribune, the Special Adviser to the governor on Media, Cletus Akwaya argued that the government had expended about N12 billion to ensure the provision of potable water to the people of the state.
He said that about N6 billion was used for Makurdi greater water works, while Otobi water works in Otukpo gulped N2.5billion and another N1.5billion for Katsina Ala water work.
Sunday Tribune gathered that the state ministry of water resources once put up a memo to stop the production of sachet water in the state but the governor was said to have jettisoned the idea due to the non-availability of potable water from the waterworks that would service the entire state.
1000 gallons of water sell for N4, 500 in Enugu
Despite the improvement said to be ongoing in the Enugu State ministry of water resources, findings by Sunday Tribune reveal that in the state capital, 1000 gallons of water sell for N4, 500 depending on the buyer’s bargaining power.
The deputy director (public relations) of the Enugu Water Corporation, Matthias Nriji, told Sunday Tribune that he agreed that there was an acute shortage of water supply in Enugu and Nsukka during the last regime but pointed out that the present administration of Governor Sullivan Chime had decided to prioritise the supply of potable water.
Perhaps, it is against the backdrop that the state governor in the 2014 budget allocated N2.613 billion for urban and rural water supply to people of the state.
“Out of the above sum, the State Water Corporation has an allocation of N1.871 billion while the Rural Water and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) got N707.5 million respectively. The sum of N35 million was allocated to the Ministry of Water Resources”, the governor said while presenting the budget estimate to the State House of assembly last December.
Be that as it may, many people are yet to get water at ease in some parts of the Enugu and other urban centres as well as rural communities.
Nriji further explained that whatever scarcity was experienced in some parts of the state was due to some technical problems encountered by the contractors handling the water projects in Enugu.
“However, the matter between the government and the contracting firms has been resolved and work is expected to start again soon. Hopefully, water will reach everywhere in the state”, he said.
Further checks by Sunday Tribune showed that only few local government chairmen embarked on provision of water.
Developmental projects cuts down water supply in Ogun, Oyo
In Ogun and Oyo States, the situation appears similar with residents growing inability to have access to potable water. Aside the usual constraints of the state water corporation, the topography of the state capital contributes in no small measure to this general lack.
With only few areas having access to pipe borne water, the commencement of the road projects in Abeokuta only worsened the situation. While the situation persists, residents have devised means as they sink boreholes and buy water wherever it is sold.
In many parts of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, residents employ the services of local water vendor and the sinking of boreholes for both personal and commercial uses.
Sunday Tribune after rounds of checks gathered that localities such as Leme, Abiola way, Olorunsogo, Surulere, Adigbe, Onikolobo and other parts of the state are presently cut off from regular water supply, no thanks to the developmental projects presently going on in the state. This has increased the heavy reliance of residents on sachet water with the resultant effect of a recent outbreak of gastroenteritis.
With the spread of lack of access to potable water, residents across the nation believe that until something drastic is done, the availability of potable water would remain a mirage.