Category Archives: Water Issues: General

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.

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Nigeria National water master plan captures development up to 2030

The Deputy Manager of the Master Plan Project seems to be assuming two important data – Nigeria’s population growth rate and water demand. While his sweeping statement about these two, sounds pleasing to the ear, one may ask if the Ministry of Water Resources has any fairly reliable information about Nigeria’s population growth rate and water demand.

Our population figures have always been flawed. When the Chairman, National Population Commission, Chief Festus Odimegwu felt uncomfortable about the reliability of the census figures, he resigned his appointment in 2013. Oduimegu was quoted in the Punch Newspaper of October 2013 as saying “During the 2006 census, workers locked out the commissioners over the creation of new areas. When the NPC did its own census in 2006 and said Lagos State was 9 million, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was the governor then came out and declared that the population of Lagos was 17 million.

“Nigeria has run on falsehood for too long. We must stop this falsehood and put a stop to all of these. The Boko Haram problem is partly as a result of that. Because the 2006 census wasn’t correct, the former board of the NPC was unable to publish the figures.

“If they try it, there will be an uproar. We must make Nigeria work. We can’t do that unless we know the statistics. We can’t build infrastructure without demographic data. As long as the figures in Nigeria are wrong, corruption will continue to thrive. We must have an organised data before we can plan for Nigeria.”

With respect to having to consult the master plan for how much water is available, one will like to ask if the nation has any clear idea about how much groundwater is available in each hydrologic area. It is true that we have a fairly good idea about our surface water hydrology but a lot needs to be done about groundwater hydrology.

Finally, it is really a shame that we have to wait until JICA is ready to help us before we can build on what it did in 1995. Are we really an independent country?

Comments by DEPO ADENLE

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National water master plan captures development up to 2030

Published on Wednesday, 08 January 2014

Written by NAN

The National Water Resources Mater Plan review now at its final stage, captures water development plan and population growth up to  the year 2030.

Mr Kenneth Sumonu, an Assistant Director in the Department of Allocation and Authorisation, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, said this while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.

Sumonu, the Deputy Manager of the master plan project, said that every area in the country was captured in the master plan of its development agenda.

He added that the master plan would serve as a guide to the country’s development from 2013 to 2030, considering the nation’s population growth and water demand. While this sweeping statement sounds pleasing to the ear, one may ask if the Ministry of Water Resources have any idea about Nigeria’s population growth rate and water demand.

He noted that the country’s water resources were not properly harnessed, thereby necessitating implementation of the master plan for adequate utilisation of these resources.

“The final stage is so important because now, we can say we have a national water master plan that every sector can key into for their development agenda.

“It is very important that the master plan is a guide to ensuring sustainable development within our present demand and it’s from 2013 to 2030.

“Any development that has to do with water, you have to consult the master plan for availability of water. With respect to having to consult the master plan for how much water is available, one will like to ask if the nation has any clear idea about how much groundwater is available in each hydrologic area. It is true that we have a fairly good idea about our surface water hydrology but a lot needs to be done about groundwater hydrology.

“We have abundant water supply resources; we have huge potential even up to 2030; but they are not properly harnessed because water is not evenly distributed.’’

He said the weather data, meteorological data, hydrological data and population growth were the major areas captured in the plan.

Sumonu said the final copy of the document would be presented to the Ministry of Water Resources for full implementation on Jan. 20, 2014.

According to him, the master plan also made reference to Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020, National Water Road Map, MDGs and the Africa Water Vision in developing the plan.

He explained that the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the organisation in charge of the review, developed the first master plan in 1995.

He said that the Federal Government subsequently requested the organisation to update the document for effective management of the country’s water resources.

The assistant director commended the organisation for the job, stating that the master plan was part of the support from the Japanese Government to Nigeria. (NAN)

Probing the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the River Basin Development Authorities Over Misuse of Public Funds: A Welcome Decision

About a month ago the report shown below was filed by Premium Times. The reasons adduced for the probe by the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts are two:

1. Refusal of the agencies to answer queries raised by the Auditor General of the Federation.

2.The Committee’s displeasure over “the manner the basin authorities were administered over the years.”

The probe is supposed to be in form of public hearing. If one considers the above first reason which is on the Auditor’s queries and the fact that the Ministry has refused to honor invitations from the House Committee it is difficult to see what a public hearing will achieve. It will be in the interest of the public if an insight can be given on the number and nature of queries so far given. Many thanks to Premium Times for shining its probing lights on the activities of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. It did so about a year ago, July 27, 2012 when it wrote on “INVESTIGATION] The Massive MDG Fraud (2): How Nigeria’s water ministry steals billions, then leave the taps dry.” (http://premiumtimesng.com/news/93667-investigation-the-massive-mdg-fraud-2-how-nigerias-water-ministry-steals-billions-then-keep-the-taps-dry.html).  I doubt if there was any official response to this 2012 article. Apparently the Federal Ministry of Water Resources is becoming another ‘untouchable ministry.’ The second reason for the probe is on the displeasure of the House Committee “over the manner the basin authorities were administered over the years.”

A reader of the current Premium Times report may be suspecting that the concern of the House Committee is about only how funds are being used in the RBDAs. The reader’s suspicion may not be unfounded but may miss a more profound reason. Our RBDAs have lost focus. This becomes glaring if one considers what they are currently engaged in (production of sachet water ‘pure water’ and bottled water) comparison with the articles of the edict that established them.

The following summarizes the functions of the RBDAs:

• To undertake comprehensive development of both surface and groundwater resources for multipurpose use, with particular emphasis on the provision of irrigation infrastructure and the control of flood and erosion for watershed management.

• To construct, operate and maintain reservoir dams, dykes, polders, wells, boreholes, irrigation and drainage systems and other works necessary for the achievement of the RBDAs functions and to hand over all lands to be cultivated under irrigation schemes to the farmers.

• To supply water from RBDAs completed storage schemes to all users for a fee to be determined by RBDA concerned, with the approval of the Minister of Water Resources and Rural Development

• To construct, operate and maintain infrastructure services such as roads and bridges linking projects sites, provided that such services are included forming an integral part of the approved projects.

• To develop and keep up to date comprehensive water resources master plan, identifying all water resources requirements in the RBDAs area of operation through adequate collection and collation of water resources, water use, socio-economic and environmental data of the river basin.

DEPO ADENLE ============================================================ Nigerian lawmakers to probe water resources ministry, agencies Premium Times, July 17, 2013 The lawmakers will also probe the River Basin Development Authorities. The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts said it would probe the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the River Basin Development Authorities over alleged misuse of public funds. The Chairman of the committee, Solomon Adeola, announced this in Abuja on Wednesday at a meeting with the officials of the ministry of and managing directors of the river basins. He said the ministry and its agencies had refused to appear before the committee to answer queries raised against them by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation. Mr. Adeola expressed displeasure over the manner the basin authorities were administered over the years. He said the probe, which would be in form of a public hearing, would be transmitted live on television stations across the country. “It will give the managing directors the opportunity to speak to Nigerians on how funds allocated to them were administered’’, he said. Mr. Adeola explained that the action became necessary following the refusal of the agencies to honour several invitations of the committee.

Causes of the Failure of Water Supply Donor Projects in Africa especially in Nigeria.

Causes of the Failure of Water Supply Donor Projects in Africa especially in Nigeria

 I define “enabling environment” for success of donor projects as availability of constant and stable power supply, and in the absence of this, readily available fuel at affordable price and the absence of corruption. On the other hand, “a poor enabling environment” would mean erratic power supply, frequent fuel shortage as well as expensive fuel and corruption.

 The quote from the Reuters article below: “In one case in Nigeria, boreholes and pumps relied on an unreliable electricity grid, with diesel generators installed as back-ups. But the high cost of diesel meant that the back-ups were largely unused and towns returned to using unsafe sources of water” is an apt summary of why donor projects fail in most African countries.

 I wonder if there is any alternative that is open to donors as far as having cost effective boreholes without having to resort to solar power for their water supply projects.

 DEPO ADENLE

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EU falls short on Africa water projects

REUTERS, September 28 2012
By Ethan Bilby

Brussels – More than half of the European Union’s projects to provide safe drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa failed to deliver, the EU’s audit watchdog said in a report on Friday.

The report by the European Court of Auditors examined 23 projects co-funded by the EU in six African countries between 2001 and 2010. The audit found that the projects, at a total cost of 400 million euros ($514 million), often lacked sufficient supervision and that checks were not always carried out to ensure that water was fit for human consumption.

The authors said that while equipment was usually installed properly, local communities did not receive enough support to manage the projects long term.

“Fewer than half of the projects examined delivered results meeting the beneficiaries’ needs,” the auditors said in a 43-page report.

In one case in Nigeria, boreholes and pumps relied on an unreliable electricity grid, with diesel generators installed as back-ups. But the high cost of diesel meant that the back-ups were largely unused and towns returned to using unsafe sources of water.

A British member of the European Parliament, Nirj Deva, said: “In these tough economic times it is vital that every pound we spend on foreign aid goes to the right place and achieves the right result. We can’t go on spraying around taxpayers’ cash willy-nilly with no proper regard for the eventual outcome and for value for money.”

In a statement, the European Commission, the EU’s executive, disputed some of the auditor’s findings but acknowledged that the projects could have been run better in some cases.

“There is no room for complacency and there is always a need for improvement,” Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said.

“I want to reconfirm the EU’s strong commitment to making sure that everyone, no matter where they live, has access to clean, safe water and sanitation.”

A spokeswoman said that the Commission had improved monitoring of the projects since 2005 and that most of the projects examined in the report were started before reforms were introduced.

“This type of regular checking really proves that EU aid is under control and we are in constant communication with the authorities,” said Catherine Ray, the Commission’s spokeswoman on development issues.

Improving access to drinking water and sanitation are important steps in achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals – a series of eight challenges to increase health and reduce poverty in the developing world by 2015.

One of the aims is for the number of people without safe drinking water and sanitation to be reduced by half from 1990 levels.

The EU spent 1.01 billion euros ($1.3 billion) on water and sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa from 2001 to 2010, but the World Bank and the United Nations say that between $8 billion and $11.8 billion would be required each year until 2015 to reach the millennium goal on water and sanitation. – Reuters

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.

INVESTIGATION] The Massive MDG Fraud (2): How Nigeria’s water ministry steals billions, then leave the taps dry

 

Premium Times

Published: July 27,2012

mdg illustration

 

The Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR), and its agencies, mismanaged a large chunk of the N30billion it was allocated, between 2006 and 2008, as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) funds, we can authoritatively reveal today.

PREMIUM TIMES’ ongoing investigations into the utilization of Nigeria’s MDG funds show that the ministry, just like its Health counterpart, has mismanaged billions of naira that should have used to provide potable water for some of the over 60 million Nigerians who have no access to clean water.

A 2012 report by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, established that 66 million Nigerians lack access to water. Because almost half the population lacks access to good water, water-borne diseases remain rampant in this oil-rich West African nation, with diseases like dysentery, cholera, typhoid fever and others killing hundreds every year. The scarcity of water has also left thousands of communities with poor sanitation and hygiene.

Some of the 66 million Nigerians forced to consume infected water live in Erin-Omu, a small community of about a hundred inhabitants in the Itesiwaju Local Government Area of Oyo state. People here remain deprived of good water because officials have pocketed funds meant for providing borehole for the community, while filing false report to the capital, Abuja that the project had been executed.

The Erin-Omu water fraud

Sixty-year old Modupeola Oladimeji wakes up at 3 a.m. everyday. In what has become a daily routine, Mrs Oladimeji her daughter in-law and her grand children, with buckets on their heads, immediately commence their journey in search of water. Villagers rely on a contaminated stream, about 200 metres from Mrs Oladimeji’s mud house, and whoever gets there first get the best water, residents believe.  The stream water is used for bathing, washing, drinking and other domestic chores.

“I used to go to the stream to fetch water since I was young,” Mrs Oladimeji, a fish seller, said in Yoruba language. “Now I wake up my daughter-in-law and we join other neighbours to go to the stream. That is where all of us in this village get water.”

Less than 10 metres from Mrs. Oladimeji’s house however, is a huge signboard advertising a borehole that had purportedly been built for the community.

Residents told our reporter the board was erected some years ago when “some people” came to them saying they wanted to provide potable water for the village.

“They told us they were from Abuja (Nigeria’s capital) and that they had come to help us put a borehole there,” Mrs Oladimeji said. “They put the signboard at a spot where they said they had found water.”

During our reporter’s visit to the community, residents rained curses on officials who pocketed the funds meant for their borehole, planted deceitful signboard and then scamper to Abuja to lie that  Erin-Omu had been provided water.
“God will judge them harshly,” one villager said.

Titled “Hand pump borehole at Erin Omu,” according to the message on the board, the project is one of the hundreds of phantom water projects purportedly executed nationwide using funds meant to help Nigeria achieve goals one, four, five and six  of  the MDGS.

Rather than help this country of 150 million people move closer to the MDGs, our investigations have shown that officials in government ministries, including that of water resources, are simply pocketing billions without executing projects for which they were released.

The water resources ministry (and the agencies under it) alone has mismanaged a huge chunk  of the N320billion allocated to it to provide safe water for Nigeria ns and help the country attain the MDGs.

Water for MDGs

Provision of potable water is directly related to goal one of the MDGs and indirectly related to goals four, five and six.  Potable water helps to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger while it also helps to reduce incidence of water borne diseases.

Due to the importance of potable water to the achievement of the MDGs, the Office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Millennium Development Goals (OSSAP-MDGs) chose the Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR) as one of the 10 beneficiaries of funds meant to achieve the MDGs.

Of the N99.9billion budgeted for the MDGs in 2006, the headquarters of the FMWR was allocated N9.42 billion naira.  In 2007, the ministry got 10 per cent of the N109 billion; while it got 10.8 billion of the N111 billion allocated in 2008.

As independent monitors and evaluators from  the office of the OSSAP-MDGs stated in their reports for 2006, 2007 and 2008, that most of the projects for which the water resources ministry got funds were like that of Erin Omu.
Most of them were phantom projects.

After monitoring projects by the FMWR from the 2006 funds, the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) team stated in March 2008 that “most of the projects being handled from the headquarters of the FMWR have not taken off. Overall assessment of progress on all the programmes in the sector has been assessed at about 18.44%.”

Village water projects

Erin Omu typifies the state of most of the village water projects that were to be constructed by the water resources ministry.

In 2006, 21 small town village water supply projects were to be built across the country. However, according to the M& E team, that didn’t happen.
“Of the 21 small town village water supply projects that were to be built in different locations across the country, eight recorded no progress whatsoever and there were no reports on 11,” the team stated in its report submitted in March 2008.

Apart from the 21 village water supply projects, money was also released to the FMWR in 2006 for the construction of 449 motorized boreholes across the country. Two years after money was approved for the boreholes however, work had not started in any of the 449 locations. The ministry however told the M&E team that “contracts had been awarded and that contractors were already mobilizing to work.”

It is not only the headquarters of the FMWR that was indicted for mismanagement and non-performance, agencies under the ministry were found equally culpable.

The River Basin scheme

Although the 12 River Basin Development Authorities (RBDA) across the country were established to make water provision for domestic and agricultural uses easy for Nigerians, many of them have become bywords for mismanagement and inefficiency, investigations show.

Six kilometres from Erin-Omu lays Igbojaiye, an agrarian community. In other to make agriculture easy for the Igbojaiye farmers and also provide safe water for the town and other nearby communities of Otu, Baba-Ode, Okaka and so on, the OSSAP-MDG decided to fund the construction of a small earth dam in Igbojaiye.

To achieve this, the OSSAP-MDG approved N900 million to the Ogun-Osun RBDA in 2006. Apart for the Igbojaiye dam, the money was also to be used for 59 rural water projects.

But were able to establish that the dam was not constructed, while 36 of the 59 water projects were also not done.

Again in 2007, another N1billion was approved for the Ogun-Osun RBDA for projects including the Igbojaiye dam. While the Igbojaiye dam was again not constructed, only 16 per cent of the other 105 rural water projects were done.

The construction of the dam finally commenced in August 2009, after officials have pocket a large portion of the funds released for the project.

When our reported visited the project site, Lukman Aweroro, the engineer representing the contractors handling the project claimed his firm was only  awarded the contract in Aug 2009. He refused to disclose the contract sum but stated that the project would be completed in three phases.

The community members at Igbojaiye were only interested in the completion of the project and were unaware of the repeated financial allocations for the project

“The project has been on since (Shehu) Shagari regime. They abandoned it for a long time. We’re happy they have started again.” said Ajayi Kehinde, who holds the traditional title of Sobaloju of Igbojaiye in the community. “We don’t know for how much they are doing it, but they should just try to complete it this time.”

The Ogun- Osun   RBDA is however not the only one guilty of fraud and non-performance. Other RBDAs performed just as poorly.

In its 2007 report submitted in 2009, the M&E team stated that “the projects handled by the RBDAs have recorded varying levels of progress but overall performance has been unimpressive.  Several projects have not commenced at all.”

Hoarding Information

In other to conceal their shady deals, the water resources ministry and the various RBDAs embarked on a course to frustrate the independent monitors.

In its March 2008 report, the M&E team stated that “all the M&E teams reported difficulty in gaining access to project and contract documents that would enable them to identify and access progress achieved on the projects.”

This refusal to provide relevant information was linked by the evaluators to non-existent projects.

“It would not be out of place to suggest that in many of the projects, such project information was perhaps even non-existent,” they said.

The ministry’s refusal to provide relevant information and documents by the FMWR and its parastatals continued till 2010. This was reflected in the 2008 report which was concluded in 2010 by the M&E team.

“Access to information was problematic, particularly access to information about projects in RBDAs,” the report stated

No comment

In a manner reminiscent of how monitors were frustrated by denial of information, six months during which letters and several visits were made to its headquarters, the ministry is yet to provide responses to questions asked by our reporter. Our enquiry to the ministry bothered on phantom projects, cost of projects, misappropriation, official indictment, and so on.

Spokesperson for the ministry, Olawunmi Ogunmosunle, who initially directed our reporter to a certain chief engineer, finally stated after several weeks of enquiry that “we will get back to you once we are ready.”

The ministry never got back to us.

However, the new spokesperson for the ministry, Boade Akinola, asked, on Thursday,  that the questions be re-sent to her after our reporter again visited the ministry on Tuesday during which he was told that he would still be contacted. When the ministry failed to contact us, another visit there, on Thursday, led to Ms. Akinola explaining that she had just assumed duties at the department, and that the questions be resent to her.

Few minutes after going to press, a ministry spokesperson called PREMIUM TIMES to say our questions had been forwarded to the appropriate departments and that the minstry would get back to us once the answers are ready.

RBDA won’t talk

At the Abeokuta, Ogun State, headquarters of the Ogun-Osun RBDA, the spokesman, Femi Dokunmu, would also not respond to our enquiry.
“The approval for somebody to provide information on such a matter is an issue only the Minister (of Water Resources) can approve,” Mr. Dokunmu said, referring us again to the water resources ministry.

A highly placed source at the Ogun-Osun RBDA however stated that our enquiries caused jitters as top officials of the agency fear that it might trigger a probe of its activities.

“Our people think you were sent here secretly by the National Assembly. Nobody wants to talk to you officially,” our source, who does not want his name mentioned, for fear of victimization, said.

Blame the President

A member of the civil society group that carried out the Monitoring believes it is the failure on the part of the Presidency to act on their recommendations that has allowed the corruption to continue.

“There is a quarterly meeting, the Presidential council on the MDGs where the President is briefed on what exactly is happening,” said Jibrin Ibrahim, while explaining that the President is aware of all their reports.

While the OSSAP MDG office through its spokesman, Kene Offie, says it is checking corruption in its activities by ensuring that ministries found culpable are not given more MDG funds, Mr. Ibrahim says that is not enough.

“If we are really going to do the anti-corruption struggle, you need to have sanctions for people who do not perform,” Mr. Ibrahim said.

“My recommendation is there must be a mechanism in the Presidency that now follows up on this report and identifies those agencies where there is suspected graft and pass on that information so that ICPC and EFCC can follow up to investigate what happened to the money. But at that level, it is really executive action that is necessary.”

Nigerians still suffer

While the water resources ministry continues to hoard information and the Presidency refuses to act on recommendations by the Monitoring and Evaluation teams, Nigerians like Mrs. Oladimeji continue to suffer from lack of potable water.

“We don’t even want to know how much they have collected or spent. Let them just help us and come and give us the water,” Mrs. Oladimeji said

The Fund for Investigative Journalism provided support for the report.

Communities find water, decades after

Communities find water, decades after

By Chris Oji

The Nation, 01/06/2012

The days of thirst are over. So is the era of trekking for kilometers on end just to find water.

For the people of Umuika-Enuogo Nkerefi community in Nkanu East Local Government Area, Enugu State, it is a whole new world.

The community had been without water for decades. Sourcing good water took over many kilometers, making the liquid even more precious than crude oil or gold.

But now, their agony is over. A borehole scheme initiated under 2009 MDG/CGS water projects has been completed and inaugurated by the state government.

The handing over of the water project to the Umuika– Enuogo Nkerefi community has brought to an end decades of water scarcity in the community and its neighbouring communities.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, the Managing Director of Enugu State Rural Water supply and Sanitation Agency (En-RUWASSA), Mr. Mike Cole Oguamah stated that the stream impoundment at Nkerefi was a pilot project developed by the Enugu State government as an alternative to providing safe drinking water to communities all the year round.

He said a geological survey had shown that construction of deep motorised boreholes would not be feasible, while shallow boreholes always dry up during the dry season.

Oguamah disclosed that the project has a concrete reservoir and overhead tank with a capacity of about 100,000 cubic metres of water, intake, treatment and filtration plants as well as reticulated to about 3km from the reservoir.

He explained that with time, reticulation would be extended to other parts of the community.

He charged the water management committee to ensure that everybody had access to the water as well as  to make sure that all the clans that made up Enuogu-Nkerefi were represented in the committee, and that the security of the project must never be compromised.

The benefitting communities expressed their joy as they saw water in their neighbourhood. They thanked Governor Sullivan Chime.

Handing over the water scheme to the community, the commissioner for Budget and Planning and chairman of MDG Oversight Committee, Dr. K. O. Agbowo stated that since Enugu State government spent huge amounts of money to build the water scheme at no cost to the community, it is now left for the community to devise the best way to raise money to maintain the project.

Agbowo pointed out that the project would not only serve the community’s water needs but would also reduce drastically the incidents of water-borne diseases which were present in the area and the medical expenses the villagers incur as a result of such diseases.

Other neighbouring communities that requested for the extension of the water to their villages were informed by the commissioner that water was for all but they should liaise first with the water management committee to discuss the modalities for the extension in “the spirit of Governor Sullivan Chime’s desire to provide safe drinking water to the people of Enugu State.

The Umuika-Enuogo Nkerefi community through the chairman of the water management committee, Mr. Kingsley Ogbu expressed gratitude to the state government for citing the project, the first of its kind in their community.

He said that before now the the issue of safe drinking water had been a nightmare to the community against the background that it was a guinea worm endemic community

MY COMMENTS

This is good news for the Umuika-Enuogo Nkerefi community.

However, the way this is reported leaves one wondering whether this scheme is a borehole-based water supply scheme or a surface water-based scheme. This needs to be clarified.

Secondly, from the report, it appears there was no wide consultation in the community before the project was conceived, planned, developed and constructed as implied in the words of the Planning and Chairman of MDG Oversight Committee, Dr. K. O. Agbowo:

“…since Enugu State government spent huge amounts of money to build the water scheme at no cost to the community, it is now left for the community to devise the best way to raise money to maintain the project.”

If the community was properly consulted before the construction of this scheme, post- construction operation and maintenance system of the scheme would have been put in place. It would not have been necessary for Dr. Agbowo to inform the community during the handing- over ceremony that the community has to devise the best way to raise money to maintain the project. The cart was put before the horse.

In similar donor-assisted projects, a Water Consumers Association (WCA)  or Community Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committees (WASHCOMS) would have been formed that would be responsible for collecting tariff  and maintenance of this project so that it would not end up abandoned like most other government projects that were executed using a top-down approach.

A factor that has been identified for failure of water supply schemes is that communities do not have a sense of ownership when they do not contribute towards a project.

However little, it is important if the Umuika-Enuogo Nkerefi community had contributed something towards this project in order to guarantee the success of this project.