Improving access to potable water in Yobe State: Gaidam tasks Yobe Council Chiefs On Potable Water

Governor Gaidam tasks Yobe Council Chief on Potable Water

by Njadvara Musa.  Damaturu News, December 10, 2011.

“Governor Ibrahim Gaidam has urged the local council chairmen in Yobe State to ensure that local communities have access to potable water before the end of first quarter of next year.

The governor gave the directive yesterday in Damaturu  while inspecting 170 units of 39KVA generators procured under the State-Local Government Joint Account to overcome shortage of water supply in council areas.

Gaidam said “provision and distribution of clean water to every village unit in the state is a topmost priority of this administration,” pledging that by the second half of next year, every village in the state should have access to potable water for domestic and industrial uses.”


Governor Gaidam’s statement sounds encouraging and is along the usual line of press statements by political heads of governments at various levels when they pay visits to their ‘subjects’. They usually become Father Christmas, promising this and promising that.   If we take a closer look at Yobe State and its water supply situation, it is apparent that Gaidam’s  promise may not be  different from the above:  politics.

A paper by Dawoud and Raouf (2008) gives an insight into the magnitude of the gap between what is needed and what is available at the present time in Yobe State, and by deduction, the implication of the magnitude of capital needed.  What these two authors propose requires enlightened groundwater-based water supply programme implementation that entails detailed investigation of all available aquifers before embarking on the programmmes – for example in the case of Damaturu using well fields using both the alluvial aquifer and the deep aquifer to provide water for concerned communities. The situation in Damaturu is to a very large extent similar to what obtains in the other Local Government areas of the state..

And according to a map by C.J. Vorosmarty, et al. (2010)  on Global Water Security Threat which was used by Patricia Wouters (2011) in her keynote address at the 3rd Nile Basin Development Forum, Yobe State can be considered to be in a high state of “incident water security threat” (on a scale of 0 –1, Yobe State is in the 0.8 – 1 range). It is apparent from where Yobe stands in this classification that at least the Governor is committing to a sort of first step in the right direction that will guarantee access to water in the state now and in the future.

There are 17 Local Government Areas in Yobe State:  Bursari, Damaturu, Geidam, Bade, Guiba, Gulani, Fika, Fune, Jakusko, Karasuwa, Machina, Nangere, Nguru, Potiskum, Tarmuwa, Yunusari and Yusufari.

With the procurement of 170 generating sets, we can assume that each LGA got 10 generators but there must be more than 10 local communities in each of these LGAs. If each generator is to power a borehole or a well field, there will not be adequate generating sets  for all the local communities in each LGA even if water from the  boreholes or well fields are reticulated.  And even with this assumption, it is doubtful if  the generating sets would be adequate to meet the Governor’s directive by the end of the first quarter of 2012 since human settlements in Yobe are very dispersed.

We must bear in mind that recharge to the alluvial aquifer along the Yobe River is not enough to satisfy the kind of withdrawal (Carter, R.C. and  Alkali, A.G., 1996) that is implicitly being envisaged if the governor’s promise of  “provision and distribution of clean water to every village unit in the state” by the “second half of next year” is to be met.  To be able to do what the Governor promises the deep aquifer will also have to be tapped, but this is more costly to develop than the shallow aquifer and requires high technical skills .

While commending the efforts of the Governor, it will be necessary for him to put the state on the right track  by considerably improving access to potable water even if not to every village by the end of next year – as that is a clear impossibility under the present circumstances –  but at least by 2030.  A hands-on approach in the following areas  would aid towards achieving his stated goal for the state water supply programmes: adequate planning, proper and detailed hydrogeologic survey, transparent procurement process which will ensure that competent borehole construction contractors are used as well as competent construction borehole supervisors.

Whenever most governments in Nigeria are asked what constitutes the greatest challenge concerning improving access to potable water, the response is usually ‘lack of funds’. Funding is the least challenge if corruption at all stages of water provision projects can be tackled because it is, in doing so, that governments can drill cost-effective boreholes in the country.

3 responses to “Improving access to potable water in Yobe State: Gaidam tasks Yobe Council Chiefs On Potable Water

  1. A Tall Dream Indeed.
    Yes, it is very good for duty bearers to aim high in providing basic infrastructures such as safe water sources to their citizens a priority.
    Yes, it is encouraging for politicians to make good promises that will reduce poverty in their domains and improve the quality of life, reduce their sufferings and make life better and worthy to live.
    But, how do they go about it? through empty promises that would nver see the light of the day? though making costly public statements in the name of attending public State functions and quest to make people happy without corresponding budgetary backing?
    Does the State has the baseline situation and inventory of safe water sources, deduce gaps (gaps analysis) and investment (short term, medium term and long term investment plan) needed by the State to make such costly propagaderous statements? and has the cost implications of the declaration been determine, evaluated and planned for in 2012 budget? what about the sustainability plan to ensure that the scheme keep on functioning beyond the life of this administration?
    It is time we begin to hold duty bearers accountable to such public statement that seek to raise the hope of the people without corresponding machinery to actualise it.
    Can this kind of thing ever happen in developed Countries? How I wish our polity can develop to such an extent that this kind of thing would be a thing of the past.
    This type of thing make me sick. God.

  2. Somehow, it is not easy to determine which words were the governor’s and which ones were the reporter’s. The title says the governor “tasks” the Yobe Council Chiefs on potable water. In other words, he challenges them. He did not make a promise. Where the word “pledging” appeared, it is still not sure whether it is the reporter’s or the governor’s. I would have been happy if we could have the text of his address.
    Nevertheless, I agree with the opinions already expressed that preliminary investigations and thorough planning are required for the provisions of rural water supplies in any community. Rather than do this, the governor and his council chiefs have gone ahead to buy generators. At the end of the day, these generators will end up in the houses of some people. If by luck, the generators are not stolen, will there be regular provision of funds for the purchase of diesel?
    If the governor has tasked or urged his council chiefs to make potable water available for domestic and industrial uses, I am tempted to ask where these industries are? Besides, let us wait and see when the governor will announce his budget for the state and how much will be allocated for rural water supply and sanitation for us to see if the end of the first quarter is a realistic timeline.

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