…Beneficiaries commend EU, UNICEF WASH project
After depending on well water for over 100 years, relief has come the way of some communities in Rivers through the provision of boreholes by the European Union, (EU), and the United Nations Children Fund, (UNICEF), to ease their water problems.
Narrating their experiences to the Daily Times during a visit to some of the communities, the residents expressed joy that the bore holes provided to the communities have changed their lives for good.
The communities are: Okpobo, Aya-Ama, Ottonlama, Okorotu and Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Florence Kingsley, 38, of Okpobo community said they had in the past suffered a lot from sicknesses because of the well water they drink but ever since UNICEF came to their rescue, their lives have changed for good.
She said, “We were used to well water. We never had this kind of water before”.
Also, Ezekiel Wari Jaja, WASH community coordinator said that the provision of the boreholes to Aya-Ama community came as a big relief for a community that lived without safe water for over 100 years.
“The rate at which our children were falling ill before the implementation of this water project has reduced drastically,” he added.
For her part, Tabitha John of Ottonlama community said that she had before now used to walk a very long distance to get water but the situation has changed ever since the boreholes were constructed.
“I am very happy and relieved because the water is very close to me now.
“At a point, my husband became suspicious of the hours we were spending at the borehole. Several times, I was beaten because he thought I was having extramarital affairs,” she said.
Mr. Macdonald Charles also said, “We have been drinking water from the well for over 100 years these communities have been in existence. The taste of the water alone can kill you. We are happy with the newly commissioned borehole.”
UNICEF in partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has been providing clean water to rural communities in Rivers State.
The project was implemented by UNICEF under its Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project. Most of the benefitting communities were provided with boreholes to ease their water problems.
UNICEF, Chief Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, Zaid Jurji, said one million Nigerians under 5 years die annually as a result of no proper sanitation; 20.4 percent of the population have access to basic water and sanitation services.
Jurji who spoke at the media dialogue on WASH in River state, organized by Federal Ministry of Information, in collaboration with European Union, EU, and UNICEF lamented that sanitation sector in Nigeria is severely under resourced, with only 19 percent of WASH budget annually.
He further explained that 122,000 Nigerians, including 87,000 children under 5 die each year from diarrhoea while nearly 90 per cent is directly attributed to lack of WASH.