Nigerians are facing acute shortage of potable water in spite of claims by some state governments that funds are being allocated to solve the problem.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that water is a transparent fluid which forms the world’s streams, lakes, oceans and rain, and is the major constituent of the fluids of organisms.
Water is one of the most important substances on earth. All plants and animals must have water to survive.
If water falls short there would be no life on earth. Apart from drinking it to survive, people have many other uses for water.
Mr Simone Grego, Regional Science Advisor, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Abuja Office, told NAN that water was a vital element for humans and ecosystems.
‘’As we all know, we need water for food production, energy, industrial and domestic uses, the world is facing an increasing pressure from these demands, which is worsened by growing population.’’
The UNESCO official expressed regret that over 630 million people in the world were still living without access to clean water.
He added that around 2 billion people in the world still required access to improved sanitation, especially girls and women who are the most vulnerable.
Dr Michael Ojo, Country Director, Water Aid Nigeria, said eliminating inequalities would help Nigerians out of poverty and achieve their full potential to live healthy and productive lives.
“Walking, queuing and carrying jerry cans in search of water is often a job that is not paid and not recognised, it wastes time and hinders productivity for many women and girls.
“In sub-Saharan Africa, women spend combined total of at least 16 million hours each day collecting drinking water, we can do more when these inequality gaps are closed.”
Ojo said Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) was an essential component of an integrated approach towards tackling poverty, hunger, health and inequality, saying prioritising this would make growth sustainable.
However, he said that 57.7 million Nigeria do not have access to safe drinking water, while thousands of children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation in Nigeria.
The National Coordinator for Health and Environment Basic Registry Information System in Nigeria (BRISIN), Dr Misbau Lawal, however, lamented that more than 130,000 Nigerians die of water-borne diseases.
Lawal told NAN that water borne-diseases were as a result of inadequate provision of safe drinking water and sanitation.
Quoting the World Health Organisation (WHO), he said statistics had shown that about 3.4 million people in the world die annually as a result of water borne diseases.
In Ibadan, Oyo State capital, Gov. Abiola Ajimobi, said at a forum that his administration at inception in 2011 met water supply at zero level.
He said his administration’s efforts had, however, put it at 70 per cent productivity level to date.
Ajimobi also said the inaugurated ultra-modern water treatment plant at the Asejire Water Scheme cost N262 million.
NAN reports that the Asejire scheme has a production capacity of 186,000 cubic meter of water per day.
He said that the scheme was supplying potable water to 85 per cent of Ibadan population, as well as Ikire, Ikoyi and Apomu in neighbouring Osun.
Apart from the aged equipment, other factors that led to the decline of water production at the water scheme included lack of
spare parts for maintenance and persistent disruptions in power supply.
Residents, however, insisted that scarcity of water was biting harder in spite of government`s efforts and fund allocations at addressing the problem.
A resident, Alhaji Busari Adeyemi, told NAN that they often had to resort to the patronage of water vendors to access water for domestic use.
Another resident, Mrs Eunice Okanlawon, said many people now seek assistance from owners of boreholes to access potable water.
To ameliorate the current challenges, the state government has awarded contracts for the construction of Ayete Water Supply scheme to serve Tapa, Idere and Ayete communities and has dedicated a power Line to Saki and Ogbomoso Water Supply
Government, it was learnt, had also awarded the contract for the extension of pipelines to new areas across the state and upgraded the water treatment facilities at Koso and Atori in Iseyin.
This is in addition to those of Igboho, Igbetti and Ogbomoso as well as laying of New Rising Mains from Eruwa to Igboora (Phase I & II).
The General Manager, Water Corporation of Oyo State, Mr Olusoji Oguntola, said that the projects were awarded as part of government efforts to increase the volume of potable water to the residents.
NAN also reports that repairs of dilapidated pipelines across Ibadan metropolis were ongoing while N1.8 billion was budgeted for water in the 2016 budget just passed by the state assembly.
In Abeokuta, residents called on Gov. Ibikunle Amosun to address the prevailing water challenges in the state to avoid outbreak of cholera and other communicable diseases.
Some of the residents in separate interviews with NAN said they have continued to groan under the hardship of acute water shortage in the state.
Mrs Ademola Alaga, a housewife at Post-Office area of Ijebu-Ode, told NAN that the situation had left them to continue to live with the risk of outbreak of diseases.
Alaga expressed regrets that in spite of unjustified water bills, those who patronise the Ogun State Water Corporation’s (OGSWC) pipe-borne water scheme could hardly get potable water.
She said residents had continued to depend on wells, streams and water vendors for their daily needs.
Alaga said those on the state water scheme pay bills ranging from N3,000 to N6,000 monthly depending on the volume of water consumed.
She, however, urged the government to resuscitate the Yemoji Dam, which she described as a good source of water to Ijebu-Ode and its environs.
Another respondent, Mrs Kemi Oduneye, residing at the Market area in Ota area of the state, said she had been spending N300 on water purchase weekly, aside her payment to the state Water Corporation.
She appealed to the government to make the supply of potable water regular while stressing the need to fix pipe leakages and minimise wastages.
Mr Bola Oyedele, the Chairman, People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN) in Ogun, urged the state government to invest more on the provision of potable water.
He said that so many water projects had been abandoned by the government, stressing that this had contributed to the suffering of the masses.
“We have a World Bank project around Idi-Aba in Abeokuta which has been abandoned, the water scheme is supposed to supply Idi-Aba and its environs.
“The state government should revive all abandoned water projects and do the needful by meeting up with the yearnings of the people in the area of adequate water supply.
“State Governments under the watchful eyes of state water corporation should be committed to sinking boreholes in all nooks and crannies of the state, “ he said.
In Akure, many residents complained of either outright lack of pipe borne water or inadequate water supply in their areas.
Mr Kunle Banire, a resident of Oba-Ile, Akure, told NAN that he had resorted to the use of water pump to get potable water from his well for his household.
“There is no provision of pipe borne water by the government; people in this area have to provide potable water for themselves.
“I will implore the state government to reticulate the Owena Dam and other dams in the state for the usage of people. “
Mr Adejare Solomon, a resident of Oshinle in Akure South Local Government Area of the state, also lamented the acute shortage of water in the area.
Adejare, who is a community leader, attributed the shortage to poor funding of water projects by the state government.
But the state government has reiterated its commitment to provision of potable water for people of the state.
Speaking during the 2016 Water Day recently, Gov. Olusegun Mimiko said the state had spent over N3 billion in rehabilitating and upgrading various water schemes in the last seven years.
Mimiko said that the fund was mostly spent in renovating the Awarada Dam Scheme, Ifon Water Scheme, and agro-spring water supply project for the benefit of the residents.
He stated that arrangement was being made by his administration to partner with the Federal Government to complete the Owena Multipurpose Water Dam for the benefit of the people in the Central Senatorial District.
Also speaking with NAN in Akure, Mr Steve Giwa, the Executive Chairman, Ondo State Water Corporation, said government was of the belief that boreholes were meant for rural dwellers.
“For urban cities such as Ikare, Akure, Ondo, etc, Mimiko prefers working on dams, construction of treatment plans, installation of pumps and reticulation to individual homes, which he has embarked on since he came on board.
“We have so many functional water schemes in the state but we also have some dilapidated ones.
“The governor took some bold steps to rehabilitate and upgrade all these schemes to meet the current needs of the people, “ he said.
Giwa disclosed that the scheme in Akoko zone was already in existence some 50 years ago when the population was not high.
“But due to increase in population, the state government had to embark on rehabilitation of the schemes, “ the chairman said.
Giwa said the Awara dam in Akoko North East Local Government Area had been upgraded and was functioning while the Igbaraoke Multipurpose Dam had been completed except for reticulation and transmission.
“At Igbobini in Ese-Odo Local Government Area, there is a completed dam and also the Oba-Akoko dam is on test-run.
“The government has also completed the Ose/Ifon Treatment Plant at the cost of N100 million but it was vandalised by hoodlums.
“Some old dams are still working, especially the Ondo/Owenna Water Scheme, while we have about 25 functional dams/water schemes across the state, “ he said.
In Osogbo, Mr Adelere Oriolowo, the Head of Planning, Research and Statistics, Osun Ministry of Water Resources, said the state government had budgeted N431 million for provision of potable water in the state.
Oriolowo told NAN that government was also carrying out major rehabilitation at Ede head works.
He said the government was spending N20 million on rehabilitation of 59 motorised boreholes, in 11 communities spread across seven Local Government Areas of the state.
He said the boreholes being rehabilitated are those built by the European Union Water Supply and Sanitation Sector reform programme (EUWSSS), which was done between 2005 and 2012.
Oriolowo said another ongoing project, is EUWSSS phase two, on which N666 million would be spent, adding that the state government had already paid its N119 million counterpart fund of the project.
The General Manager of Osun Water Corporation, Mr Gbenga Owojuyigbe, said there was steady water supply in the state.
Owojuyigbe told NAN that the Ede head works, which is the biggest water scheme, was currently serving 13 Local Governments in the state.
He also said that the Ekonde, Okuku and Ife dams are functioning at full capacity.
Mr Richard Adediran, the Director of Water and Environmental Sanitation for Ife Central Local Government, said that United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and European Union were partnering with Local Governments to provide potable water for the people.
Adediran said that the African Development Bank (AfDB) was also collaborating in the effort to providing potable water.
NAN also reports that the Federal Ministry of Water Resources had on March 11 handed over a 32-million-cubic-capacity dam to the state government in Kajola near Ilesha.
Mr John Ochibo, the Deputy Director/Project Manager in the ministry, described the project as a contribution of the Federal Government toward the provision of potable water to the people of the state.
Ochibo said the dam cost the Federal Government N3.3 billion to complete the pump and power house.
In Ilorin, the General Manager of Kwara Water Corporation, Mr Tunde Yahaya, admitted that the state was facing the problem of acute water shortage.
He said the current water supply could not cater for the high population growth in the state.
Yahaya told NAN that the population was growing in geometric progression without corresponding increase in water supply to the towns and villages in the state.
“For now the level of water supply in Kwara cannot cope with the current number of residents in the state and government needs to take urgent steps, “ he said.