Uncoordinated investment in Water & Sanitation: Adamawa legislator’s borehole donation not way to go

(This is another example of uncoordinated investment in water supply and sanitation – third one in this blog. Comments are given at the end of the newspaper report).

Thirst ends…150 years after

By Emmanuel Ande, Yola

The Guardian, Monday, 17 December 2012  

Gokra people of Adamawa State get first borehole, constructed by female House of Representatives member

IT was tears of joy in Gokra, a remote village in Geire Local Council of Adamawa State. Old women and men were shedding tears when the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe and the Adamawa State, Governor Murtala Nyako, fetched water from the solar-motorised borehole constructed by the member, House of Representatives representing Geire, Yola-North and Yola-South Federal Constituency of Adamawa  State, Hajia Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed, to end the perennial water problem in the area.

The water project in Gokra, to many residents, was the best and the first democracy dividend to come to the area.

A resident, Mrs. Jummai Luka, told The Guardian that the action of the only female National Assembly member from the state, to give the village potable water, was a sign that “she is a true representative of her constituency.”

She said based on her people -oriented projects in her constituency, the electorate would continue to vote for her anytime she would ask for the support of the people.

Ochekpe, who commissioned some of the boreholes last week in Geire, Yola-North and Yola-South Local Councils, urged other elected political office-holders to emulate Hajia Aisha’s efforts to compliment the present administration’s policy of providing social amenities to Nigerians.

“The water project will improve the hygiene of the people in the various benefiting communities.

Many water-transmitted diseases, which is very common in rural areas, will no longer affect the people”, she stated.

Ochekpe maintained that many girls in the rural areas could not continue with their education as a result of searching for water for their parents and those women spent more time looking for water than concentrate on their businesses.

“Hajia Aisha is a political mentor to our young women. She is a proof that if have more women in leadership positions, the welfare of the people and the economy of the country will improve fast,” she maintained.

Meanwhile, the lawmaker pointed said the construction of the 32 solar- powered boreholes in all the wards in her constituency, was her personal effort to compliment the government of Adamawa State to alleviate the suffering of the people.

“The provision of potable water to families will surely reduce cases of water-borne diseases tremendously and indeed, health challenges considerably”, she noted. She further disclosed that the 32 motorised solar-powered boreholes with 22,500 litres capacity steel tanks constructed in each of the wards in the three councils, cost her N73.6million.

The lawmaker appealed to the benefiting communities to see the boreholes as their personal property, urged them to protect them. (Putting the cart before the horse).

Governor Nyako, who commended the efforts of the female lawmaker, urged the electorate to vote in more women for development and gender equality in a democratic government.

Nyako, who said that his administration would continue to focus more on projects that had direct bearing on the lives of the people of the state, advised other elected office-holders in the state to give back to the society what the society had given to them.

The governor lamented the deplorable condition of the road to Gokra in Geire Local Council, where one of the 32 boreholes was commissioned, promised to construct the road before the expiration of his tenure in 2015.

The minister also commissioned other water projects executed by Aisha in Dou-beli in Yola-North Local Council and in Mbamba in Yola-South Local Council.

The chairman of Yola-North Local Council, Mr. Danjuma Iro, who spoke on behalf of the three council chairmen that formed the Federal constituency commended the action of Aishatu and appealed with other elected political office-holders to emulate her.

He maintained that no country could grow without the contributions of individuals and private sectors, pointing out government alone could not meet the demands of the public, considering the resources of the country.

The council boss stated that the action of the lawmaker was a big challenge to other political office- holders in the state.

A community leader, Mr. John Mulen, told The Guardian that Hajia Aishatu was the only National Assembly member from the state who could show her projects in all the wards that make up her Constituency.

Mulen, who expressed worry over the poor performance of some of the political office -holders from the state, warned the electorate not to vote for people that could not address the problems of the area but only concentrated on their families.

The event was graced by the representative of Lamido of Adamawa, Dr. Musdafa Aliyu Barkindo, community leaders, school children and top politicians in the state.

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Comments

Hajia Aishatu’s contribution to improvement of access to potable water and sanitation in Yola is worthy of commendation. However, we should not be implementing water projects  in this kind of uncoordinated manner. This kind of project should be preceded by advocacy and awareness as well as consultation with the would-be beneficiaries with respect to choice of technology, post construction operations and maintenance, etc.

“The lawmaker appealed to the benefiting communities to see the boreholes as their personal property, urged them to protect them.” It is evident from the advice given to the beneficiaries that this is a case of putting the cart before the horse.  It is clear that demand responsive approach  was not followed. When this happens, the benefiting communities are not involved in planning and decision-making, nor is any thought given to how the project will be maintained.

If demand-responsive approach was followed, ownership of the facilities would be ensured and the services would be sustainable.

The following questions are pertinent:

was there any consultation with the communities with respect to the choice of technology, etc. before the project was embarked on?

To whom  were the boreholes handed?

Is there a water consumers’ association in place to take care of these boreholes? Who will be responsible for maintenance?

Furthermore, what has the state and the LGAs been doing with respect to provision of water supply in this area because the report says there had not been potable water in this area for over 150 years?

What exactly are Governor Nyako’s plans on water and sanitation: budget for water and sanitation and the strategy for the sector?

It is necessary for the State Government to develop a strategy that can be used for how this project and any such contribution to other communities can be sustained.

A framework for individual and private sector initiative in water and sanitation in all states  of the federation also needs to be developed and implemented without delay. This is should be taken up by the Federal Minister of Water Resources.

One final thought:  the whole approach to water supply and sanitation in the country which sees legislators donating money for boreholes to communities they represent while money allocated for the so-called Constituency Allowance is allocated to federal legislators (senators and House of Representative members) is an area that needs revisiting.

Water is a vital need of people and with federal and state governments’ capabilities to deliver potable water to people, and perhaps most legislators’ briefs not calling for expertise AND monitoring time in the supervision of major projects like borehole construction, it may be more appropriate that money meant for water provision not being allocated to senators or representatives.  I believe it should be the same for other projects.

DEPO.

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