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.