Category Archives: water availability

Urban gate-guarded communities’ water supply woes: Bangalore (India) vis-avis Lagos communities (Nigeria)

People who live in urban gate-guarded communities are affluent and can afford the cost of providing necessary amenities for their families. In Nigeria, the attraction of such highbrow communities usually centers around three considerations: adequate security, water supply and uninterrupted power supply.

These same considerations apply in India.

People who live in Bangalore, a gate-guarded community, are rich IT professionals, hence the reference to it as India’s “Silicon Valley”. They want and can afford the best for their families. In Nigeria the population of such communities is mixed consisting of successful young professionals and entrepreneurs.

What got this blogger interested in this topic was the short video provided by the BBC News on Bangalore, the ‘Indian silicon valley’. As a result of the increasing population pressure, the water supply in this community has reached breaking point.

This situation is the subject of the BBC video, Bangalore water woes: India’s Silicon Valley dries up. The web link to the the BBC video:

(http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-india)

And the subtitles of each frame are given below:

  • This is the first city in India which has actually physically run out of water.
  • Morning rush hour and these tankers take over Bangalore streets.
  • They are carrying precious commodity – water.
  • If we don’t supply water then there is no water for them.
  • Earlier these used to be wetlands.
  • At that time we were getting water at a depth of 300 feet.
  • Now it is 1,400 t0 1,500 feet.
  • Thousands of tankers haul millions of litres of water across Bangalore daily.
  • Bangalore is one of India’s fastest growing cities, its Silicon Valley.
  • But its traditional water sources are drying up and are also contaminated.
  • So many people now depend on water delivered by private tankers controlled by cartels sometimes called “water mafia”.
  • I would think in some form it does operate like a cartel but it’s something nobody wants to talk about openly.
  • Software professional Subir Bose lives in an upmarket gated complex.
  • Like the other 200 families here, he’s at the mercy of tanker operators.
  • Yes we are still getting water but the quality of water is suspect.
  • The negotiations have become tougher with them because the rates are going higher.
  • Bangalore has 400,000 bore wells diminishing its ground water.
  • It is estimated that about 400 t0 500 million litres of water must be extracted every day.

Mr. S. Vishwanath, a conservationist, says in conclusion of the video that “So if bore wells dry out the city starts to lose its lifeline. So the crisis is how to revive and keep these bore wells alive. Bangalore has been in water management since 1890s. So it needs to start to become a pioneer once again to solve the crisis that grips it”.

Currently the situation in Nigeria, i.e. heavy dependence on water tankers in high brow communities, is not caused by population pressure on the groundwater resources. Rather, it is caused by not paying due attention to proper water supply borehole location vis-à-vis location of onsite sanitation, poor borehole construction practices and skimping on borehole cost which is necessitated by having to drill down to up to 200 to 300 meters as noted by a Nigerian news-site, Naij.com, which states that if people in gate-guarded communities in Lagos want to have access to potable water without depending on groundwater they have to buy water from water tankers or drill deep boreholes.

In the case of Bangalore, the exponential increase in the number of boreholes necessary for the exploding population of this affluent community and the lowering of the water table to a point where groundwater abstraction cost becomes prohibitive has resulted in huge dependence on water tankers which calls for proper management of the groundwater resources in order to wean it from dependence on water tankers.

Lagos Island, where the highbrow communities are located, is characterized by:

  1. Shallow water-table.
  2. Absence of centralized sewerage system, hence the use of septic tank system for the disposal of household and human wastes.
  3. These septic tanks are usually about 3 meters deep.
  4. High cost of drilling deep boreholes (200-300 meters deep) which many household cannot afford.

P.S. Ola, O.M. Bankole and A.Y.B. Anifowose (2010) describe the area as having a complex lithology of alternating sequence of sand and clay deposits  up to a depth of about 270m. They delineated seven aquifer horizons at the following depths: 3-10m; 40-70m; 60-100m; 110-140m; 150-180m; 178-210m and 212- 240m, corresponding to aquifer thicknesses of 15-25m, 15-30m; 10-45m; 20-40m; 10-42m; 10-30m and 20-45m respectively.

If above four characteristics are considered each on its own or jointly for example, two of them, especially ‘1’ and ‘3’, they may be responsible for why water supply boreholes in Lagos Island area cannot be relied upon as a source of potable water for the following reasons:

  • Pathways through contamination from on-site sanitation can reach groundwater supplies are through the main body of the aquifer and pathways created by the design and construction of the water supply boreholes. These are called localized pathways.
  • As indicated above these areas are in the unconsolidated recent sediments. Aquifer vulnerability with respect to its contamination in Lagos Island will be a function of the intrinsic characteristics of this geologic terrain.  This vulnerability is dependent on travel time for water to move from ground surface to the water table. It is necessary to note that the water table of the near surface aquifer in this area is shallow. The greater the travel time the greater the opportunity for containment attenuation, hence the need for reliance on deep boreholes, and in addition great lateral distances between on-site sanitation and water supply boreholes will also offer the opportunity for containment attenuation. The latter requirement to ensure long travel time is a luxury in these areas because of the ubiquitous presence  of septic tanks.

Most of the gate-guarded communities on Lagos Island claim to have central water supply equipped with water treatment plants. The prices of properties are really high and one would expect that such communities would have top quality communal services, but some do not.

A company called Neighbourhood Review provides information on some of the Lagos communities, such as Greenland Estate, Cooperative Villa Estate, Femi Okunnu Estate, Cadogan Estate, Igbo Effon Estate, Royal Garden Estate, Thomas Estate,  Marshy Hills Estate and Chevy View Estate to mention a few.

Here are two of the reviews:

“Cooperative Villa Estate: The estate has a water supply unit but was not functional at the time of this review. All houses in the estate have their boreholes and reservoirs.

Femi Okunnu: The estate has a water supply unit but was not functional at the time of this review. All houses in the estate have their boreholes and reservoirs”.

Lessons learnt in the case of Bangalore are summarized above by Mr. S. Vishwanath, a conservationist, who recommends adequate water resources management. While in the case of Lagos Island, transparency concerning claims on infrastructural provision by the estate developers is necessary, especially with respect to provision of communal services.

Finally, there is a need for proper water supply borehole construction and effective public awareness concerning borehole location vis-à-vis on-site sanitation.

 

Governments’ water supply policy should be geared to correcting their bad deeds instead of criminalizing citizens efforts towards improving access.

The Minister also wondered aloud whether there would be groundwater left for future generations considering the present rate of groundwater abstraction! This is a troubling statement coming from a country’s Minister of Water Resources because groundwater development at the current rate cannot completely empty the aquifers in Nigeria as the country is not in a climatic zone (arid) where there will always be recharge to the aquifers either in the Sahel or the humid regions of Nigeria. 

At the just concluded 53rd Annual International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Society for Mining and Geosciences at Abuja, the Minister of Water Resources bemoans the ubiquitous drilling of boreholes by individuals in Nigeria even within the distance of a few meters as small three meters. This kind of observation is common among government officials, both permanent and transient who are always ready to focus on the symptoms of a phenomenon rather than the cause, and are usually ready to pass the buck to the average Nigerian.

Individuals do not need to engage in drilling boreholes except in isolated and rural areas in countries where governments and/or corporations accredited for water provision meet their service-to-the-people responsibilities. Drilling within short distances of each other, therefore, would never arise if the government does its part concerning provision of potable water for its citizens?

It is common knowledge that each family in Nigeria is a ‘micro government’ because it has to generate its own energy, provide its own water as well as organize its own garbage disposal and its own security (neighborhood vigilante), etc.

Government and its officials should stop finger-pointing at what it considers an over-reach by its citizens who are merely doing all they can for survival in the face of failure of government to provide good governance – a major part of it is service to the people – at every level.

Nigerians are all witnesses to the situation at Abuja, Lagos and other big urban centers where every flat in multi-storey buildings has its own electric generator resulting in a cacophony of noise pollution which any visitor from another country cannot miss, and the air pollution is immense.

Should the government crack down on these unintended polluters as is the case in some urban centers go unchallenged? In the same vein, the Minister of Water Resources should not attempt to blame and criminalize the attempts of families that are just trying to provide water for everyday use by drilling domestic water supply boreholes.

This blog has cried out about the adverse impact of corruption on the provision of potable water supply in Nigeria.

There have been reported cases of advance procurement for several years of some water treatment chemicals by politically-appointed Water Board members. Transparency International reported that billions of Naira tha would have been used to improve access to potable water have been corruptly embezzled since independence.

Here is a quotation from this blog: (https://weircentreforafrica.com/2011/08/31/corruption-in-the-water-sector-makes-access-to-potable-water-and-sanitation-a-moving-target-in-nigeria-2/ ):

Luke Onyekakeyah’s article on  Corruption in the water sector some years ago noted  that “conservatively not less than $1 trillion dollars have been pumped into the public water sector since the past 46 years of independence. This figure excludes private expenditures in the water sector. Nigeria being a corruption-ridden nation, over 60 per cent of this amount was corruptly embezzled.”

While the source of Onyekakeyah’s data for this article published in The Guardian [a Nigerian newspaper], a couple of years ago is unknown and while the figure may seem outrageous, goings-on in the water and sanitation sector in the country would tend to buttress the claim about the adverse impact of corruption on low figure on access to potable water.  Sixty percent of a trillion dollars of those years should be adequate – then and now – to significantly change the current statistics on access to potable water and good sanitation in Nigeria”.

It is common knowledge that most water corporations in the country only supply water to Government Housing Estates or GRAs and that less than 10 percent of the population of any urban area gets its water from water corporations. I have noticed while staying at a hotel in a high-income area of Abuja, the country’s capital that the ‘mairuwa’(cart-puller water vendors) sell water in jerrycans to households. If this could happen in that kind of area in the country’s capita, it is easy to imagine what people in less-privileged areas of the country.

The Minister also wondered aloud whether there would be groundwater left for future generations considering the present rate of groundwater abstraction! This is a troubling statement coming from a country’s Minister of Water Resources because groundwater development at the current rate cannot completely empty the aquifers in Nigeria as the country is not in a climatic zone (arid) where there will always be recharge to the aquifers either in the Sahel or the humid regions of Nigeria. 

Even in the Sahel part of the country, there is appreciable rainfall during the wet seasons although in the Sahel, there is the need to manage groundwater abstraction so that future cost of abstraction will not be prohibitively high.

The Minister’s point on the need to carry out modeling of our ground water is in the right direction. There is a need to model the country’s surface water resources which is impossible to achieve without having good long-term data. The Government needs to invest in collection of good quality data in the management of its surface and groundwater resources. It is important to know how much government devotes to this important area of water resources management.

Government at state and local government levels should invest more in the provision of potable water instead of seeking to tax or criminalize the efforts of citizens who are actually assisting governments in what is an essential part of their functions of service to the people.

Finally, to avoid the kind of embarrassing technical mistake by the minister, it would be necessary for government officials to be properly briefed whenever they need to make public pronouncements at professional or technical gatherings.

DEPO ADENLE

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The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, on Wednesday (March 29, 2017) expressed worry over the increasing rate of indiscriminate drilling of boreholes by quacks in the country.

Borehole 2017

Mr. Adamu said this at the 53rd Annual International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Society for Mining and Geosciences in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the conference is entitled: “The Extractive Industry: imperatives for Wealth Creation and Employment Generation”.

He called on the members to show enough concern, just as he said the society had a lot to do in the water resources sector.

Mr. Adamu said it was time Nigeria sought ways to protect its surface and underground water resources effectively.

“It is getting out of hand. You find a situation whereby within three meters, households are drilling boreholes; people are not mindful of the interference.

“We are spending too much money, whereas, we can have maybe a single unit to serve people. I think it’s time we look at these issues.

“I think it is very important we do not exploit our ground water resources to a point where there will be nothing left for the future generation of this country,” he said.

The minister said the National Water Resources bill, approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), would soon be forwarded to the National Assembly.

According to him, the bill consists of a modelling regulation to monitor exploitation of ground water resources.

He said that the bill when passed, would ensure the setting up of a hydro-drilling industry in the country.

He said the lack of proper regulation in drilling activities had made it an all comers industry, thereby undermining activities of members of the society.

However, Olugbenga Okunlola, President, Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, sought for a collective integration and corporation among governments, industry, academia and technical partners to support geosciences data collection.

This, Mr. Okunlola said, would help in the provision of pre-completion geosciences information to mining companies to support economically viable extraction processes.

He commended the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari on his emphasis on economic recovery and diversification in the solid mineral sector.

“This has been practically translated into viable increased funding for the major government institutions,” he said.

Premium Times, (NAN), March 29, 2017.

People Power Defeats ‘Death Sentence’ Water Bill In Nigeria — But The Fight Isn’t Over

This blog has expressed concerns about the dangers of carrying out privatization exercise without involving all stakeholders in the process: (https://weircentreforafrica.com/2015/02/27/privatisation-of-water-supply-in-developing-economies-lagos-state-case/). It also provided information about the views and concerns of the USA Congressional Black Caucus on the same issue (https://weircentreforafrica.com/2015/06/23/congressional-black-caucus-against-lagos-water-privatisation/). …

Peter Gleick (1999) in his paper on “The Human Rights to Water”  “argues that access to a basic water requirement is a fundamental human right implicitly and explicitly supported by international law, declarations, and State practice. Governments, international aid agencies, non-governmental organizations, and local communities should work to provide all humans with a basic water requirement and to guarantee that water as a human right.”

Lagos State failed to guarrantee water as a human right to the people of Lagos. 

It has attempted many times to privatise water supply and failed because of public outcries  arising from non-involvement all stakeholders in the process. Using its State Assembly to go around the problem by way of a “Lagos Environmental Bill” is not only a smart alec move but an ingenious and very unfair way to try another route for its failed attempt at privatizing its water supply.

The enlightened people of the State and the NGOs in the water sector should be commended for their efforts in exposing the Government’s clandestine approach to the issue of privatization.

As the title states the fight is not over; the public and the NGOs should be prepared for government’s effort for other forms of guerilla method to force water supply privatization on the good people of Lagos State.

DEPO ADENLE

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People Power Defeats ‘Death Sentence’ Water Bill In Nigeria — But The Fight Isn’t Over

On World Water Day, a massive rally unfolded in Lagos, Africa’s most populous city, to protest the ongoing water crisis.

By Dominique Mosbergen

In a heartening about-face, the government of Lagos, Nigeria, has backpedaled on a controversial law that would have criminalized the informal water sector, which almost 20 million people rely on to obtain their drinking water.

Activists credit overwhelming public opposition for the reversal, and environmental and human rights groups are breathing a sigh of relief. But a huge protest that unfolded in Lagos on Wednesday ― World Water Day ― signals their fight is far from over.

“I can confirm that most of the anti-people provisions have been removed from the final version of the law,” Akinbode Oluwafemi, deputy executive director for Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, told The Huffington Post in an email this week.

But even with the revisions to the law, “it is still not yet uhuru,” Oluwafemi warned in a statement, using the Swahili word for freedom.

The United Nations, local activists and citizens alike had reacted strongly to a draft of the Lagos Environment Bill, passed hastily in February by the Lagos State House of Assembly. The bill went after the metropolitan area’s informal water sector ― including local “mai ruwa,” or water vendors, who have been known to charge exorbitant fees ― as well as residents who drill their own boreholes or fetch water from lakes or rivers.

According to activists, the draft included language so broad that it would have potentially threatened most residents’ access to drinking water. Lagos, Africa’s most populous city, located in a state of the same name, is the midst of a major water crisis. Only 1 in 10 people have access to water that the state utility provides. Oluwafemi called the state’s proposal a “death sentence.”

“When the State fails to provide adequate access to drinking water, no one should be criminalized or fined for fetching water from lakes, rivers, or any other natural sources,” Léo Heller, U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation, said in a statement last month, adding that the Lagos state government had gone “a step too far.”

For decades, the state has “neglected to invest” in water infrastructure in Lagos, Jesse Bragg, spokesman at the nonprofit Corporate Accountability International, explained from Boston earlier this month. It has instead favored the possible privatization of Lagos’ water utility through public-private partnerships, he said ― a plan that has repeatedly been met with public opposition, and has repeatedly failed.

Activists felt the draft of the environment bill was a way for the government to push its privatization agenda.

“We are particularly worried that the governor will sign a law that practically wills our right to a free gift of nature … to private interests whose sole concern is profits,” said Francis Abayomi, executive director of the Peace and Development Project in Nigeria.

Amid the opposition, Lagos lawmakers scrambled to assure their constituents that the bill, which also included provisions related to waste management and other issues, would “benefit all Lagosians.”

Akinwunmi Ambode, the governor of Lagos state, said the bill would “result in historic environmental victories” as he signed it into law on March 1. Tunde Braimoh, the House committee chairman on information, strategy and security, added that the bill’s more “contentious” provisions had already been removed before Ambode signed it.

However, to the chagrin of environmental and human rights groups, the law’s final language was not made public until almost three weeks later.

In a statement last Thursday, a coalition of activist groups called for the government to “stop hiding” the details of the new law. Government officials finally released the law’s language to the public over the weekend.

Lagos, home to 21 million people, is Nigeria’s and Africa’s most populous city. Water shortages, fueled in part by recurrent drought and violence, have been decimating Nigeria for years.

“We are so impressed that the Lagos government allowed the voice of the people to prevail in its decision,” Oluwafemi said in a statement after the revised language was released. “The Governor Ambode administration [is] demonstrating that it is a listening one and we commend this.”

But even as they celebrate their victory this week, Oluwafemi and other activists have stressed that they’re not about to rest on their laurels. On Wednesday, World Water Day, hundreds of people gathered in the heart of Lagos to protest water privatization.

Organized by the “Our Water, Our Right” coalition, an alliance of several African and international environmental and human rights groups, over 1,000 people were expected to attend the rally. They called on the government to turn its back on privatization and instead use public funding to improve water infrastructure and treatment, as well as welcome public participation in the decision-making process.

“This is not the end of the water crisis in Lagos,” Lauren DeRusha, an associate campaign director at Corporate Accountability International, said in an email this week.

People protest public-private partnerships in Lagos on World Water Day

Speaking on his mobile phone from the rally on Wednesday morning, Philip Jakpor, an activist with Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, said that 500 people had already joined the protest and “many more are joining as we go along.”

“We are saying ‘no’ to water privatization,” he said.

Jakpor explained that while the “most anti-people” sections of the new environment law were removed and it does include some positive water-related gains ― such as more rigorous regulation on commercial water users ― the legislation still appears to support water privatization “in the long run.”

“We still restate our opposition to public-private partnerships in the water sector, which the state is still pressing ahead with,” Oluwafemi said in a statement on Monday. “We are determined to challenge this false solution through lawful means, including public demonstrations, in the days ahead.”

See photos from Wednesday’s World Water Day rally in Lagos below. 

COMMUTERS AND TRADERS CROWD NIGERIAN COMMERCIAL CAPITAL.

Molue gridlock

LAGOS WATERtwoREJECT

OUR WATER OUR RIGHT

LAGOS WATER4

LAGOSIANS REJECT PPPLAGOS WATER5not solution

PPP IS NOT SOLUTION

Dominique Mosbergen Reporter, The Huffington Post

People Power Defeats ‘Death Sentence’ Water Bill In Nigeria — But The Fight Isn’t Over

Importance of access to potable water for women in developing countries: The Case of Nigeria

This blogger attended a church service in Britain in early October 2016 where a video was shown about how the church’s Mission succeeded in improving access to potable water to the people of a rural community school in East Africa using a simple method of rain water harvesting. This simple, cheap method involves channeling rain water from roofs of school buildings into covered concrete cisterns.  Cisterns are often built to catch and store rainwater.

The video brought back childhood memories concerning the challenges we faced searching for water which are similar to the current challenges rural communities face in  some parts of Nigeria for example a rural community in Benue State.

In Osogbo (my home town) our challenges can be summarized by taking a walk down memory lane as regards what happened to women and kids fetching water for household use in the mid-fifties. At that time we did not have piped borne water and we depended on two spring sources – one yields drinkable water while the other can be referred to as non-drinkable.

The drinkable source was an unprotected (i.e. uncovered) but developed spring source. It consisted of metal drums about 30 inches in diameter and 36 inches high jammed into the bed of a small wetland (akuro in Yoruba or fadama in World Bank parlance). It is referred to as adun mu (good tasty water)! We need to remember that good quality water has no taste. This source provided drinking water to people within a radius of about 11/2 miles, an area of dense population. Fetching water at this source involved long periods of queuing, especially during the dry seasons. Tempers usually become frayed which more often than not ended in shouting matches and at times fistfights.

The king’s wives also fetch their water here.  Whenever they came to fetch water, traditionally they were not supposed to queue at the spring source. The locals and the uneducated respected this tradition which was challenged by non-indigenes and new educated elites. This happened to be one of the beginning trends in the erosion of the traditional customs of the Yorubas in my area.

The non-drinkable source was called okanla, also a spring source. Its water had an awful taste possibly because it contained large amounts of dissolved solids. It was used for laundry. Osun River water was also used for laundry but was far from the populated area of the town.

The challenges the rural community faced in Benue State is well illustrated in the words of an elderly borehole water pump operator at Eja community (Oju LGA) in 2005. He stated that pregnancy was a rarity during the dry seasons before the WaterAid  water supply intervention because of the arduous task of walking long distances, carrying 25 litres of water, over steep inclines which usually resulted in miscarriages. He further noted that because women spent most nights away from home looking for water threatened the stability of their marriages.  Furthermore, most men wanted to avoid getting into a situation that was not in the interest of their spouses’ health.

Generally, communities obtain water from two sources – surface water and ground water. Surface water sources include streams, lakes, springs, wet lands, rain and rain water harvesting. Ground water sources comprise hand-dug wells, water supply boreholes.  For the purpose of this essay we will concentrate on potable water derived from these sources. This blog will also wish to consider another grouping of sources of water: sustained and un-sustained/transient sources.

Data on access to potable water by donors, states and institutions are at times based on total number of water points constructed, customer enumeration surveys and certain analytical and statistical methods. Experiences have shown that once water points are constructed, several factors affect whether they are functional for a reasonable length of time or non-functional within a few months of their completion. Such water points are here referred to as transient or sustained.  Access to potable water data are therefore estimates instead of computed or measured. It is not possible to have accurate data on access to potable water because access data only measures the situation at a time like a snap shot.

Water Sources could be transient for the following reasons:

  • Water points constructed, e.g. by the Federal Government of Nigeria, which do not have community based institutions to manage them (such points usually fall into disrepair once any part of the physical facility fails);
  • Those constructed by contractors that did a poor job such that the water points fail as soon as they are handed over to the community. The picture below is that of a water supply borehole at Bembe in Aiyedaade Local Government area, Osun State.
FGN Rural Borehole at Bembe near Orile Owu Osun state

FGN Rural Borehole at Bembe village near Orile Owu, Osun State, Nigeria

At this community the blogger was surprised to see people drawing water from a hand-dug well right next to a motorized water supply borehole constructed by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The villagers told the blogger that the borehole was only functional for a few months. This kind of facility is considered transient or un-sustained.

Uncoordinated investment in Nigeria’s water sector which has resulted in huge numbers of water points constructed by the RBDAs, for example, which are not handed over to the states or the communities and which are thus not being used but are recorded as water points serving certain numbers of people in the access data.

Other water points fail shortly after completion because of poor monitoring and reporting as well as the attitude of communities towards government properties and over reliance of these communities on government to do everything for them. Once such points fail, repairs that may cost just pittance will be left while awaiting government assistance. Such points which may have been added to the access data will fall in the category of transient water supply source.

In order to have fairly reliable estimate the WHO and UNICEF jointly organized a Rapid Assessment of Drinking Water Quality (RADWQ) in Nigeria in 2010. It was reported that though the methodology used worked well in Nigeria, but that the methodology needed some improvement. One key improvement sought would require visit to water sampling sites after selecting them to physically locate the sites because some sites visited by the teams did not have the technology allocated to them in the initial design of the project. The above case of Bembe in Ayedaade LGA, Osun State buttresses this point.

Table 2.2 of RADWQ report is on “Household access to water supplies” for each state. The table provides information on whether the households have improved or unimproved technology access. Improved technologies access comprise piped water, borehole, tubewells, protected dug wells, tankers and vendors. Unimproved technologies access comprise ponds, streams, rainwater and unprotected dug wells. The table noted that 51.5% of households have access to water from improved technology sources and that this estimate will go down to 47.1 % if water supplied by tanker truck or animal-drawn tankers is excluded from the analysis.

Charitywater.org/whywater/ summarizes how lack of access impacts the lives of women in the third world in four major ways.  The narrative above about the impacts of the activities of that Christian Mission in East Africa, mentioned above and that of the WaterAid in Nigeria  are suitably captured in these four major ways below:

  • Health
    • Diseases from dirty water kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
    • 43% of those deaths are children under five years old. Access to clean water and basic sanitation can save around 16,000 lives every week.
  • TIME
    • In Africa alone, women spend 40 billion hours a year walking for water.
    • Access to clean water gives communities more time to grow food, earn an income, and go to school — all of which fight poverty.
  • EDUCATION
    • Clean water helps keep kids in school, especially girls.
    • Less time collecting water means more time in class. Clean water and proper toilets at school means teenage girls don’t have to stay home for a week out of every month.
  • WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
    • Women are responsible for 72% of the water collected in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    • When a community gets water, women and girls get their lives back. They start businesses, improve their homes, and take charge of their own futures.

Cholera in Nigeria: an update

Towards the end of last year, this blog carried an essay on cholera and wondered whether October should be referred to as cholera month in Nigeria.

Below are updates by two institutions – Weekly Trust and UNICEF.

The causes given for the outbreak have been adduced in previous in both learned and general publications. Yet the situation is not improving from year to year. What should the three tiers of government do? If we cannot control cholera, God help us if there is Ebola outbreak.

DEPO ADENLE.

Cholera Ravages Nigeria

by Ruby Leo, Lami Sadiq & Onimi Alao, Abubakar Auwal, Isa Liman & Ahmed Mohammed, Bauchi, Weekly Trust, Nigeria, Saturday, 12 April 2014

… kills over 100 since January A new wave of cholera epidemic blowing across the country may have claimed hundreds of lives since January and does not seem to be abating anytime soon with the onset of the rainy season, Weekly Trust findings reveal.

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed an outbreak of the infectious disease in 14 states, where it said 9,006 cases were reported, with 106 deaths in the first quarter of 2014, adding that the situation was not this critical last year. But state health officials say the casualty figures for the last three months could be much higher as some deaths that happened outside health facilities, which are many, are not officially reported, while many others do not even know the cause of death.

Cholera, according to experts, is an acute infectious disease caused by a bacterium, Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae) which results in painless diarrhea (the main symptoms are watery stool and vomiting); and infection in most cases comes primarily from drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person, including one with no apparent symptoms.

The NCDC report shows that Bauchi, where 6,910 cases were reported with 48 deaths, is the worst hit of the 14 states; Kano had 1,270 cases with 16 deaths, while three of the 28 cases in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) ended in fatalities.In Kaduna State, 350 cases were recorded with 19 deaths, while four died from the 97 cases reported in Benue, six died in Taraba from the 190 cases reported and six again in Ebonyi from 16 recorded cases. The NCDC report said the lot of the country turned for the worst in the 12th week.

Between weeks 1 and 12 of 2014, 9,006 cholera cases with 81 lab-confirmed and 106 deaths from 58 local government areas (13 States and FCT) were reported. But Bauchi State Commissioner for health, Dr. Abubakar Sani Malami, told a news brief on Thrusday that 59 people died of cholera in the state in the last three months. He said 54 of them died in their homes and five in hospital. “The state recorded a high casualty figure because some of the victims were treating themselves at home,” he said.

Local health workers and Medicine San-Frontiers (MSF) told Weekly Trust in Zamfara that over 1,117 cholera cases were reported in at least five local government areas of the state within two weeks. These are Gusau, Durumi, Gukkuyum, Sakura and Maradu. At least 72 of the victims died of the infection, not including those who gave up the ghost before they could get medical help, local officials said. But reports by MSF indicate that the death toll from the epidemic could be as high as 350 people in Zamfara alone.

Hospital sources said about 90 fresh cases were reported at the Shagari Primary Health Care Center among other health facilities in the state this week alone. Many more are being expected. Balira Bello, who is receiving treatment at the Shagari facility, blamed her infection on the unavailability of clean drinking water to the people in the Birnin Ruwa area of Gusau, the state capital. Two other residents, Balkisu Mamman and Shafa’atu Garba, said they fetch their drinking water from broken pipes which usually pass through unsanitary environments.

One of the worst hit communities in Plateau State is Anguwan Yashi, in Namu area of Qua’an Pan Local Government Area, which recently saw the influx of thousands of refugees from neighbouring Nasarawa State fleeing from communal crisis, putting pressure on the only source of drinking water and other facilities in the village. The Plateau State government has confirmed that 11 people died of cholera while the community puts the casualty figure at more than 30. None could, however, dispute that over 100 people had been infected and treated from the disease. The district head of Namu, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq, said mortality numbers have been down-played, adding that most of those killed by the scourge were women nursing their children. “Both indigenes of the village and the displaced have been affected because we now live together. And I can count over 10 of the indigenes that have died from this disease, including my brother’s wife, my neighbour and her daughter,” said Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq, the district head of Namu.

Others like 21-year-old Jane Botof in Rukuba, Bassa local government area were luckier. She suddenly took ill; vomiting and stooling. “What could this be?” her mother, Lilian Bot, wondered aloud; and driven by a growing panic, bundled her daughter into a commercial tricycle and was off to the nearest clinic. Thus, Jane’s was one of the 28 reported cases in the area last week. Three of the victims, one of them a pregnant woman, died chiefly because they got to the hospital late.

Cholera outbreaks were reported in several other parts of the state with no official records of cases, sometimes due to the remote nature of such locations or just because of the lackadaisical attitude of the people to health issues. At least two local areas of Sokoto State have experienced an outbreak of cholera this year, Tambuwal and kebbe, where scores of people have died of infection, investigations by Weekly Trust revealed. But the state government said only 13 out of the 152 cases reported there ended in fatalities. In Barkeji alone, a village located along Sokoto-Jega road in Tambuwal local government area where the disease was said to have first surfaced, 31 cases and five deaths were recorded between October 10 and October 21, officials said. In kebbe local government area, about 20 kilometres from Tambuwal, the disease resurfaced in six riverine communites, including Bakin Dutse, Tuna, ‘Yar-Romo, Nabasa, Fakku and Bashi, with eight deaths out of 121 cases reported.

Scores of people in Kano metropolis are now bedridden and agonizing as a result of the sudden outbreak of cholera in some parts of the state. The cholera epidemic struck the communities 10 days ago and has so far claimed the lives of over 12 persons.

In Lagos state cholera outbreak in five local government areas has so far claimed at least three persons, while scores of victims were treated and discharged, state commissioner for health, Dr. Jide Idris, said. “Although, many of the cases have been treated and discharged in several health facilities, three have been confirmed dead. Most of the suspected cases are from Ajeromi, Apapa, Lagos Island, Oshodi_Isolo and Surulere local government areas,” Idris said.

Health officials say cholera can be easily prevented by washing of hands frequently with soap and water for at least 15 seconds especially before handling food and after using the toilet; drinking and cooking with safe water that has been boiled and disinfected and avoiding eating raw food, taking food that is completely cooked and hot and avoiding improperly cooked seafood or meat, among other measures. “Especially in this period of the early onset of rain, a clean environment and lifestyle is key against cholera infection,” Plateau state epidemiologist, Dr. Raymond Juryit advised, adding that when cholera occurs, what determines safety of life is not seeking treatment in the wrong quarters, such as a chemist or arriving hospital late, but arriving hospital as quickly as when its symptoms manifest.

NCDC project manager, Prof. Abdulsalami Nasidi, said the federal government has deployed Rapid Response Teams to affected states to help contain the outbreak. He explained that drugs are being distributed to states to cushion the effects of the disease while chlorine powder has been also distributed to treat well water.

=============================================================

UNICEF Nigeria Cholera Situation Report – 10 February 2014
Highlights
• As of 31 January 2014, 855 cholera cases (17 lab confirmed) and 20 deaths (Case Fatality Rate 3.3%) were reported from 28 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in 9 States. During the same period in 2013, no cases or deaths were reported.
• In the last three weeks an upward trend of cases has been observed compared to the same period in 2012 and 2013.
• In week four, 288 cases and 10 deaths were reported in four LGAs from Bauchi, Ebonyi, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Kano States. The majority of these cases, representing 79.5% (237/298), were reported in Bauchi from Bauchi LGA.
• In the on-going dry season, water sources have been stretched, contributing to the already low access to water and sanition. Only 58% of Nigeria’s population has access to water and sanitation, which poses a high risk for the spread of cholera cases to states which have not previously reported any cases (Fedral Ministry of Water Resources).
• No cases of cholera have been reported in Borno and Yobe so far this year, however during week one, Adamawa state reported one case. The risk of cholera outbreak in these states remains high given their precarious humanitarian situation (a State of Emergency has been declared in these areas). UNICEF and partners continue to support the government to strengthen coordination at State and LGA level, and intensify communication to raise awareness.

“DRINKING WATER OR SEWAGE: Is there a difference”

“DRINKING WATER OR SEWAGE: Is there a difference”

 Below is a short excerpt from an Inaugural Lecture delivered at the University of Ife on the 16th of January 1973 by Kenneth E. Damann, Professor of Microbiology. The observation made about water and sewage by Prof. Damann forty years ago still holds today.

There has been discourse on waste water reuse or recycling. It is believed that expanding water reuse–the use of treated wastewater for beneficial purposes including irrigation, industrial uses, and drinking water augmentation–could significantly increase USA’s  total available water resources. Water Reuse presents a portfolio of treatment options available to mitigate water quality issues in reclaimed water along with new analysis suggesting that the risk of exposure to certain microbial and chemical contaminants from drinking reclaimed water does not appear to be any higher than the risk experienced in at least some current drinking water treatment systems, and may be orders of magnitude lower. This report prepared  by the Committee on the Assessment of Water Reuse as an Approach to Meeting Future Water Supply Needs,  National Research Council  recommends adjustments to the federal regulatory framework that could enhance public health protection for both planned and unplanned (or de facto) reuse and increase public confidence in water reuse.

DEPO ADENLE

“Water Versus Sewage”

“Since water supply is the foundation upon which rests your health then knowing that your drinking water is pure and safe to drink is a primary duty of every person. The first questions that need answering are What is water and What is Sewage? Is there a difference?

Mathematically, the difference between water and sewage is often only six inches or less depending upon the distance from the water tap to the drain or basin of a sink. For example, you may draw a glass of water from the tap and that portion you consume is drinking water. Should you choose not to drink it all and empty a portion in the sink then suddenly drinking water has become sewage or part of the product we will refer to as sewage.

In reality sewage is not necessarily an offensive product. It consists of approximately 99.9 per cent water and the remaining 0.1 per cent is composed of mostly organic and some inorganic matter. The one tenth percent includes human wastes, garbage, cleaning solvents, greases, etc.  as inorganic constituents; while sand, silt, mud and cinders contribute to the inorganic material.  Therefore, it should seem reasonable to assume that if sewage is made up of 99.9 percent water , then sewage is a condition in which water finds itself, rather than a new and different product.  Stated more simply, water is the vehicle for carrying waste materials. To further illustrate the point, sewage has been very simply described  as a stream of water flowing through homes, factories and businesses of a community into which waste materials are discharged.  Then downstream there is treatment  plant which removes the wastes so the next town can process the stream water for drinking and many other uses of every day living.

It seems obvious, therefore, that we must be realistic and accept the fact that water is not really consumed by man but actually used over and over again. …”

Professor Damann concluded that water means different things to different people as evidenced by the compendium prepared by Professor K. M. Machenthun.

WATER IS……………………………………………………                                                                          A NECESSITY FOR LIFE

                                                                                                                                                  A TRANSPORTER OF DISEASE

A SUSTAINER OF NAVIGATION

A COOLANT, CLEANSER, DILUENT

A MEDIUM FOR RECREATIONAL PURSUITS

A RESOURCE WITH FOOD FOR POPULATIONS

A POWER SOURCE TO HARNESS AND CONTROL

A SOURCE OF TRNQUIL, AESTHETIC ENJOYMENT

A REFUGE FOR BIOLOGICAL PESTS AND NUISSANCES

A DEFILED PURVEYOR OF CIVILIZATION’S WASTES.

East Africa; Enough in the Nile to Share, Little to Waste: Lessons for Nigeria

East Africa; Enough in the Nile to Share, Little to Waste: Lessons for Nigeria

IRIN, November 16, 2012

Addis Ababa — As Ethiopia’s massive dam-building plans continue to cause disquiet in downstream Egypt, new research suggests there is sufficient water in the Nile for all 10 countries it flows through, and that poverty there could be significantly eased as long as access by small-scale farmers is boosted.

“We would argue that physically there is enough water in the Nile for all the riparian countries,” said Simon Langan, head of the East Africa and Nile Basin office of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), at the Addis Ababa launch of The Nile River Basin: Water, Agriculture, Governance and Livelihoods published by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food.

“What we really need to do is make sure that there is access to this water… Poverty rates are about 17 percent in Egypt but for five of the upstream riparian countries it is more like 50 percent. So, this access to water is very important,” he added.

According to a media advisory promoting the book, the Nile “has enough water to supply dams and irrigate parched agriculture in all 10 countries – but policymakers risk turning the poor into water ‘have-nots’ if they don’t enact inclusive water management policies.”

While better seeds and tools play a key role in boosting agricultural productivity, access to water is even more important, said one of the book’s editors, Seleshi Bekele, senior water resources and climate specialist at the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

“The higher water access you have the less the poverty profile… This is not only in comparison between Egypt and upstream countries: within Ethiopia itself, 22 percent less poor were observed in those communities who have access to water,” he said.

Access “means that girls can go to school, instead of fetching water from distance that could take hours,” he added.

Smallholder farmers, who rely on rainwater to irrigate their crops, could similarly benefit from policies that give them greater access to water in the Nile basin.

The book calls for investment to adopt agricultural water management (AWM) policies, which include irrigation and rainwater collection, so that water-scarce parts of the region are able to grow enough food.

COMMENTS

One can equally and confidently say that there is enough to share in the international rivers that drain Nigeria.

Nigeria is blessed with abundant water resources but experiences water scarcity because of poor management. Though no detailed assessment and quantification of Nigeria’s water resources potential has ever been conducted, it is strongly believed that the country has abundant water resources – surface and ground water. Annual rainfall in the Eighties ranged between greater 500 mm in the northwest to 2,700 mm in the southeast (JICA, 1995). The country is drained by several perennial rivers, some that flow into the Niger and Benue while other river systems such as the Hadeji-Jamaare, Kaduna, Cross River, Ogun, Osun and others are good sources of surface water.

The total annual surface water has been estimated to be between 6,120  and 10,000 cubic meters per second. The damming of two major rivers (Niger and Benue) by upstream riparians should not cause any anxiety for Nigeria. What should cause anxiety is how upstream riparians manage their excess flows. The recent improper management of releases from Lagdo dam is a case in point. (See another blog  by this blogger on the challenges Nigeria faces in the management of its international waters – https://weircentreforafrica.com/?s=The+sleeping+giant+of+Africa- ).  How about the proposed Kandaji Dam? It is believed that if this dam is constructed it will jeopardize Nigeria’s hydroelectric installations at Kainji.

What is lacking in Nigeria is seriousness of purpose concerning its handling of issues that pertain to its international waters and lip service approach to managing its waters in an integrated manner.

DEPO

Rain Water Harvesting and Life skills Development: Acton Students Show the Way

The article below was sent to me by one of the readers of this blog. It is a short article but contains several lessons which include water conservation, better use of students’ time, life skills development, and last but not the least, how our young ones can acquire tools of good citizenship.

The term rain water butt used in the article means “a water tank used to collect and store rain water runoff.”  M. K. C. Sridhar, A. O. Coker and S. A. Adegbuyi (2001) note that rain water harvesting has become a world-wide practice to meet the increasing demand for fresh water. According to them, in Nigeria it is widely practiced mostly in the southern part as the rainfall is widespread for over 8 months a year with mean intensity of 180 to 225 cm. Rain water harvesting is practised at individual level, household level, community level and occasionally at Local or State government level to augment the dwindling water supplies to urban centers. Their study describes the magnitude of rain water harvesting in selected communities in peri-urban areas obtained from a house to house survey, their behavioural practices in harvesting, storage and usage of the rain water, the quality of such waters and design of a sustainable system in one of the study areas.

It would be interesting to find out where rain water harvesting has been practiced at state level in Nigeria. In a study carried out by this blogger in March 2005 for WaterAid, it was discovered that at Obijago, a community of 1,371 people in Obi Local Government Area of Benue State, rain water harvesting was practiced using 8 concrete tanks. Considering the population of this community this blogger noted at the time that household rain water harvesting is also necessary in this community to supplement the effort of the local government.

Acton students’ novel way to harness the rain

Jul 25 2012 By Jane Harrison

WEEKS of rain may have got us down, but pupils at Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls have launched a project to conserve some of that water.

Girls at the school in Queens Drive, Acton, built a rain capture system, a large underground tank and a channel to run off the water from the geodesic dome they built earlier this year as an outdoor extension for the school.

They dug a channel, laid bricks and made concrete so they could pump the water, powered by a solar panel, to the nearby plants. The project, which uses maths, plumbing and steel-cutting skills, to name a few, is designed to help them work together and build life skills.

Teacher and specialist co-ordinator Mike Heyes said the girls were helped with the project by Darcy illiamson, who works on water management projects in India. He said the summer’s regular downpours would help the project, but had hindered their work to set it up.

He said: “We first planned this during the winter but hadn’t a clue the summer would be this bad so it is very muddy, but when it’s finished we can harness all this rain.

“At the time ground water levels were dropping across the country so we decided to do this to address the water loss. It’s really a grand version of a water butt at the end of your drainpipe.

“The girls have needed maths for things like working out the volume of the soil, they have learned how to how to mix cement and concrete, brick-laying and how to use silicone to make it water-tight, even
cutting steel.”

Fifteen girls are working on the project, which according to their maths teacher Hetal Patel, they are thoroughly enjoying.

She said: “They have been really keen and matured working as a team. If they want to go into engineering they now know what is involved. They have also surprised themselves becoming more confident about what they can do. It has been especially good for the quieter ones.”

Two of the pupils, Danielle Barbosa and Sivatharsini Sennappan, both 15, said they are revelling the challenge. Danielle, from West Acton, said: “I thought it was more of a man’s job and thought I couldn’t do it, but it’s fun. Some things have been useful like applying the maths.”

Sivatharsini, from Perivale, said: “I like this kind of thing, so I was really up for it, although my arms ache now. It has been good experience.”

Postscript: Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls is  in the U.K.

Abuja Water Scarcity: Symptom of government Failure in Water Supply Delivery

 

Abuja Water Scarcity: A Symptom of government Failure in Water Supply Delivery

 by DEPO ADENLE

Two articles reproduced below demonstrate the pitiable situation of what happens when government fails in its duty to provide water. The first one appeared in the Daily Times of Nigeria of July3, 2012, while the second one is an article written by Andrew Walker of the BBC in 2009.

Water supply situation in most parts of the country will only improve if the huge funds that are always budgeted for water in annual budgets are not diverted into private pockets, and if planning is given its rightful place in the water sector. Today, it is common practice to publicize “constituency water project” by legislators at all levels. This is an uncoordinated approach to investing in water sector.

This blog has discussed corruption, uncoordinated efforts by all tiers of government and water projects that are unplanned for but embarked upon for the sake of politics ( see the following links:  https://weircentreforafrica.com/2011/08/31/corruption-in-…t-in-nigeria-2/

https://weircentreforafrica.com/2012/05/05/uncoordinated-…from-imo-state/

https://weircentreforafrica.com/2012/02/29/uncoordinated-…-in-kogi-state/

Finally, The Federal Capital Territory, where Abuja is located,  should be a model of reliable and efficient water delivery system for the State Water Agencies which are characterized by poor water supply delivery system  consequent upon lack of  planning, corruption and political interference.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sachet water goes for N20 in Abuja

Pure Water

A union enforced closure of factories results in scarcity

July 3, 2012 ,By Chris Onyeose

Daily Times of Nigeria

Sachet water, popularly known as pure water, has now become scarce commodity in Abuja following a reported shut down of all water factories in the city.

Due to this development, a sachet of water now sells for N20 and above; as against the normal price of N5. A bag of sachet now sell for N180 and above in few areas that it is still available; as against N100.

“We heard that the pure water producers are on strike and since then we don’t even see it again,” said Philip Asoka, a trader at Wuse Market. “Even when we do, I was shocked when they told me N20 for one pure water. Since then I don’t even have interest again as I now carry water from home to my shop.”

One of the producers, who did not want his name published, said that their union, Pure Water Sellers Association, directed producers to stop business so that inspections can be carried out in their factories to assess the conditions there.

“There is nothing we can do about this as it’s our directives,” he said. “Though we feel sorry for our customers and the hardship they are facing now, we just have to do what is needed and the union is ready to fine any producer who will flout the order N50,000.”

The water vendors of Nigeria

By Andrew Walker
BBC News, Abuja, NigeriaThursday, 5 February 2009
water vendor

Isa earns a hard living pushing a heavy water cart around the rutted streets of the suburbs of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

He is one of tens of thousands of water vendors who deliver jerry cans full of water to houses built without any kind of sanitation.

“Kai! it is hard work, pushing my cart,” the 20-year-old says.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, and according to analysts has made over $1.1 trillion in revenues from the oil industry over the last 30 years; but most Nigerians still rely on people like Isa for their water.

He and a dozen of his friends sleep in a makeshift shelter behind a small household goods shop.

They wake before dawn to queue up at a nearby borehole, where they fill 14 yellow 25-litre jerry cans on their handcarts before setting off around the streets looking for customers.

Heavy load

Fully loaded, the carts weigh at least 350kgs.

The roads they push them over are dirt tracks, rocky and pitted, with sewers running down the middle.

“In the future I want to get another job, but at least I make enough money to live doing this,” Isa says.

The urban poor pay more for water than the urban rich

Isa pays around 10 naira ($0.07, £0.05) per jerry can at the borehole and sells for double that.

He makes around 700 naira a day ($4.70, £3.20), to cover food and living costs.

A large Nigerian family may need around 10 of these jerry-cans every day, customers say.

That adds up to about $486 (£339) every year, a massive pressure on a country where the average person lives on $2 a day.

This is a pattern repeated around the world, according to the UN Development Programme.

The urban poor in developing world cities including Abuja pay much more for their water than citizens of rich cities such as New York or Tokyo, precisely because the poor have to depend on private providers rather a piped municipal supply.

Govenment failure

Virtually none of the suburbs of Nigeria’s capital city have what is known here as “pipe-borne water” provided by the government.

Private individuals have to drill boreholes for themselves.

They are most often fitted with two sets of taps – one for the household, and another facing the street so the owners can make a bit of money on the side.

John, a 25-year-old borehole manager, says the place he looks after in Nyanya Gwandara earns his boss 7,000 naira ($47, £32) a day.

“The man is from Kogi State where he lives, far away. He dug several boreholes in this area for an investment,” he says.

His customers are grateful.

“We cannot wait for the government to do anything, we are relying on other wealthy people to dig boreholes,” says Janet Daniels, who lives in the area.

She cannot afford to buy the water from the delivery boys, so comes every morning to the borehole to save money.

She fills two 20-litre buckets every morning and carries them on her head back to her home.

“I have to boil the water that we drink because its a very shallow borehole, and sometimes its got little particles of stuff in it.”

Otherwise the quality of the water from here is ok, she says.

Husseini, another water vendor working at a borehole in Nyanya Gwandara, says people like the water from this hole, and he even charges more for it on his rounds.

Scummy rivulets

But other water vendors try and find free sources of water like streams and ponds.

These scummy rivulets are often fed by the sewer-streams that run through the middle of the streets.

Diseases like polio, cholera and other types of gastric infection disproportionately affect those in poverty, who get water from bad streams.

Abuja, like other cities in Nigeria, is rapidly growing.

The government has fallen so far behind in providing water here, it may never catch up.

Over the last year the price of a jerry-can of water has doubled.

These problems will only get more acute, and the price of water will only go up.

“Africa sitting on sea of groundwater reserves” – Reuters

A statement that Africa is sitting on a sea of groundwater  reserves seems sensational and sounds like what one reads in newspapers that want to generate sales but coming from Reuters which quotes British Geological Survey scientists, it becomes a statement that one cannot wave away.

The statement  in the article posted below is about North African countries such as Libya, Egypt, Algeria and Sudan. It will be interesting to know if the statement is based on enough data points even for this part of Africa.  If they do, this is welcome news.  Does this statement hold for other parts of Africa?

Data on groundwater in Francophone countries may be adequate for making sweeping statements on the status of groundwater but the situation is not the same in Anglophone countries. In the latter, e.g. Lake Chad Basin, there are gaps and the reliability of available data is questionable.

A statement about Northern Nigeria with respect  to failure of irrigation schemes being due to fuel cost may not be wholly correct. Currently, failure of water schemes in Nigeria is due to two key challenges:  corruption and poor maintenance culture.

When this blogger carried out a survey of abandoned boreholes in Northern Nigeria  in the early Eighties for the Federal Government, it was found that  boreholes were abandoned mainly as a result of poor maintenance and “ghost boreholes” which were boreholes that existed only on paper but were never drilled due to corruption.

Why is the hand pump very expensive – $13,000.00 a piece in Democratic Republic of  Congo (DRC)?  If I buy hand pumps in Nigeria where they sell for under $800 (eight hundred dollars) and sell in DRC, I will be raking tremendous profits!

Going by this finding, if donor agencies work hand in hand with African countries with respect to extensive and intensive mapping of African aquifers,  we may even find more than a sea of groundwater reserves under a substantial part of Africa; we may find ocean of reserves!!!

DEPO ADENLE.

Women queue to fetch water from a well in Bulawayo August 21, 2007. REUTERS/Emmanuel Chitate

By Chris Wickham

LONDON | Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:12am EDT

(Reuters) – Huge reserves of underground water in some of the driest parts of Africa could provide a buffer against the effects of climate change for years to come, scientists said on Friday.

Researchers from the British Geological Survey and University College London have for the first time mapped the aquifers, or groundwater, across the continent and the amount they hold.

“The largest groundwater volumes are found in the large sedimentary aquifers in the North African countries Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan,” the scientists said in their paper.

They estimate that reserves of groundwater across the continent are 100 times the amount found on the its surface, or 0.66 million cubic kilometers.

Writing in the journal Environmental Research Letters, they cautioned, though, that not all these reserves can be accessed.

Where they can, small-scale extraction using hand pumps would be better than large-scale drilling projects, which could quickly deplete the reservoirs and have other unforeseen consequences.

Groundwater is no panacea for Africa’s water shortages but it could form an important part of a strategy to cope with an expected sharp increase in demand for water as the continent’s population increases.

Even now, some estimates put the number of Africans without access to safe drinking water at more than 300 million and only 5 percent of arable land is irrigated.

“It is not as simple as drilling big bore holes and seeing rice fields spring up everywhere,” said Dr Stephen Foster, a London-based senior adviser for aid group Global Water Partnership and an expert in groundwater issues.

“In some places it could be economically and technically feasible to use groundwater to reduce crop loss, but I would question whether that is true everywhere. It will need detailed evaluation.

Foster noted that projects have failed due to cost and logistics problems.

“In northern Nigeria there have been groundwater irrigation projects that have failed because of the rising cost of fuel – a major factor in drilling costs – and distribution difficulties.”

The researchers say some of the largest deposits are in the driest areas of Africa in and around the Sahara, but they are deep – at 100 to 250 meters below ground level.

“Water levels deeper than 50 meters will not be able to be accessed easily by a hand pump,” said the study, led by Dr Alan MacDonald of the British Geological Survey. “At depths greater than 100 meters the cost of borehole drilling increases significantly due to the requirement for more sophisticated drilling equipment.”

PUMPING PROBLEMS

The amount of water a borehole yields is another key issue. A small community hand pump needs a borehole with a flow rate of 0.1 to 0.3 liters per second. For large-scale irrigation, the rate needs to be much higher, say around 50 liters.

Phoebe White, a water, sanitation and hygiene specialist for the UK Department for International Development based in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, said hand pumps in the DRC cost up to $13,000 apiece but in some areas the aquifers are too deep and other pumps must be used.

In areas of DRC where drilling deep boreholes is required the cost can be around $130,000, although problems of accessibility and infrastructure can push that figure up, according to White.

The researchers say the maps, based on existing geological charts from governments and hundreds of aquifer studies, are aimed at promoting a “more realistic assessments of water security and water stress”.

Roger Calow at UK think-tank the Overseas Development Institute, which was involved in the program that spawned the research, said the paper shows water shortages in large parts of Africa do not stem from scarcity.

“What the science is telling us is that we have more storage in these shallow, relatively unproductive (aquifers) than we thought,” he said, adding that about 60 percent of Africans still live in rural areas and 80 pct of those rely on groundwater systems.

Calow said a third of hand pumps across Africa have broken down due to a lack of maintenance.

Aid agencies gave the research a cautious welcome.

“The discovery of substantial water reserves under parts of Africa may well be good news for the continent but it may prove hard to access in the near term and, if not sustainably managed, could have unforeseen impacts,” Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in Nairobi.

Nuttall said over-abstraction exploitation of groundwater in Mexico City, for example, is undermining the foundations of buildings.

He said the focus of efforts to improve water supply should be on better collection and storage.

“The fact is that there is already a tremendous amount of water available for Africa but it is rarely collected”.

A study by UNEP and the World Agroforestry Centre found there is enough water falling as rain over Africa to supply the needs of some 9 billion people.

“Ethiopia, where just over a fifth of the population are covered by domestic water supply and an estimated 46 per cent of the population suffer hunger, has a potential rainwater harvest equivalent to the population needs of over 520 million people,” Nuttall told Reuters.