Tag Archives: Osun State

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.
    • 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 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.

Day Orile Owu community got treated borehole water

Orile Owu was one of the beneficiaries of EU Water supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme (EU WSSSRP) small town water schemes in 2011.

The EU-WSSSRP in Osun State attempted to rehabilitate the small town water supply  scheme in Orile Owu by re-constructing  a dam axis in place of the one that had been washed away. The EU-WSSSRP also rehabilitated the treatment plant, the pipe distribution net work, the electrical and mechanical installations. However, the contractor employed for the project did a poor job of the construction of the earth dam and the dam failed. He was not paid for the dam construction. This is why the people of Orile Owu have not been able to access potable water from the State of Osun Water Corporation water supply scheme there.

As narrated in the newspaper article below NEST should be commended for what it has done. In addition the people of Orile Owu should be congratulated for what they received – potable water  free of charge. They should however take good care of it.

No mention was made of how the borehole will be managed in a sustainable way. It is just not good enough to provide a borehole water scheme.



Day Orile Owu community got treated borehole water

Nigerian Tribune, by  Doyin Adeoye, , Wednesday, 19 June 2013

With the gesture of the Nigerian Environmental Study Action Team (NEST) on June 6, dwellers of Orile Owu community, Ayedaade Local Government Area of Osun State, breathed a sigh of relief over the extensive scarcity of treated water they had been battling with in years past.

Focused on promoting research and publications on the environment, as well as raising public awareness of environmental and sustainable development issues, among other objectives, NEST is a not-for profit organisation involved with environment and sustainable development in Nigeria, with a general global interest.

In line with this, as part of its African Adaptation Project (AAP), the organistation recently donated two boreholes to the remote community of Orile Owu, ending the plight of water scarcity among the people.

Commenting on the gesture, the High Chief of Orile Owu, Akogun Yaya Akintunde, appreciated the effort of the organisation, urging other NGOs to try and emulate this attitude, “I really appreciate the NEST, for deeming it fit to provide solutions to the challenges of acute water shortage faced by people of Orile Owu. It is highly soothing to me and the people of the community at large, to be able to have running pure, uncontaminated, germ free, tasteless and colourless drinking water in our community,” he said.

Chief Yaya further added that prior to the project,  the adverse effect of water scarcity in the community, cannot be overemphasised, noting that the people had to rely on the water from the stream for drinking purposes and other necessities.

“We have appealed to the government on many occassions, for potable drinking water to be made available to us and we were assured that work was in progress, which is yet to be completed. So NEST doing this for us, comes as a relief.”

The Chief, however, advised the people to endeavour to maintain the boreholes wisely.

The chairman, NEST, Professor David Okali, in an interview, said the AAP is one of the oragnisation’s focus on climate change, as an aspect of the environment.

“These gestures are means of combating the effect of climate change on the society and one of the missions of NEST is to empower people at all social and economic levels for sustainable interactions with the environment,” he said.

Buttressing this, the Executive Director of the organisation, Professor Chinedum Nwajiuba, said the aim of the organisation was to extend the project to some other states across the country.

“AAP is funded by the Japanese government through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria and through the Department of Climate Change in Nigeria. The objective is to do a practical adaptation project in seven locations in Nigeria, that is six states, including the FCT.

“This has been going on for a little over a year now and such projects have been commissioned in Cross River, Gombe, Kwara States and today in Osun State. That leaves us with Imo, FCT and Kogi States.

“The projects in Osun, Kwara, Imo, FCT and Kogi States are based on water, while that of Gombe State is based on Moringa production and in Cross River State, it is on fish farming.”

Also present at the event were the Balogun of Orile Owu, Chief Saka Lawau; Olosi of Orile Owu, Chief Salau Olaniyi; the Iyalode of Orile Owu, Mrs Suliat Ogundele; Counselor, Ward 9, Honourable Adebisi Olubuka and the beaming villagers.

Corruption in the water sector makes access to potable water and sanitation a moving target in Nigeria, Continued

by Depo Adenle

 Below is my response to issues raised in Mr. Hanidu’s comments used on Monday, October 3, 2011:

What I reported happened around 2001. I was at the Gombe office of one of the external donors. What happened was due to poor coordination between Federal and State Governments/external donors. The external donor was assisting the state in rural water supply and sanitation. The representative of the external donor was baffled about what happened and that was why he shared the information with me. If there had been proper coordination, what the FGN contractor did would have been avoided.

However, I want to give you an example of the fraud that goes on in FGN projects. The picture I am offering here was taken around June 2011 at Bembe village between Gbongan and Orile Owu, Osun State. I saw a sight that was profound, albeit very strange:  a woman was drawing water from a hand-dug well just outside the fence of a Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) borehole!  I asked the woman why she was not drawing water from the taps provided next to the fence of the borehole but she responded that it had never worked.

What baffled me was that a huge overhead tank was provided along with the generator house which can be seen in the picture below. This water scheme must have been commissioned with a lot of fanfare and a silent rural community was deceived and then left without water. The villagers told me that the project was commissioned during Obasanjo era.

FGN Rural Borehole at Bembe village near Orile Owu, Osun State, Nigeria. Picture Credit: Depo Adenle, 6/2011.

I heard that in some states on state water projects, civil servants collect N15,000.00 to look the other way instead of insisting on proper pumping tests for rural water supply boreholes. I do not know whether something similar had happened in the case of Bembe village.

As it is in case of journalists, I cannot give the name of the State that stockpiled chlorine but that illustration is just to show the level of waste that has its root in corrupt practices.

As for the ever- increasing population, it is not what will make the MDG goals shifting targets. The challenges posed by corruption are huge. Planning for projected growth in population is certainly a must for developing countries. Is it not true that we usually wait until any situation reaches crisis level before we act? When you set a goal you must plan to meet such goals.

It is no use making laws that will not be enforced. There are plenty of statutes in our Penal Code to deal with thieving politicians but these are never applied. No politician in Nigeria has ever been recalled. Until Nigeria has its own Spring of Awakening:  rallies of discontent as in the Middle East, we are not going anywhere with respect to fighting corruption.