Monday, 20 April 2015

Water Scarcity in Nigeria: Girl, Recalls Her Experiences in Remote Village

200415F-Water-Search.jpg - 200415F-Water-Search.jpg 
Janet Patrick. A Secondary School Certificate holder,  18-year old Janet Patrick could easily pass for the most beautiful girl in Nigeria. Despite the fact that she lives in a remote village called Taran in Gbogolo Local Government Area of Bauchi State, her beauty is dazzling.
Despite her beauty, Patrick has not been able to detach herself from the same gripe of poverty, which has also held the entire village bound.Even her natural beauty could not just do the magic of transformation into wealth.

Even in the face of daunting poverty, one problem that has become a life-threatening situation for her community is the lack of portable water supply.
Narrating the hazards she had passed through because of lack of water in her village, Janet said this problem nearly cost her her education. She said, "During raining season, we gather water with our bowls and keep for all our domestic use. This period, we suffer the effect of lack of supply less.
"With this rain water, we would wash, cook, clean, and do all domestic chores without much sweat. Most times we still keep the water till after the season, but after sometimes, it will finish and we will be faced with no other choice than fetching water from our little stream.
“At such time as this, the stream would still be flowing with water. Although our animals would be drinking from it, we will still be using it for domestic purposes. This stream, as you can see for yourself, is a bit far from our residence but we must come here to fetch.
“We enjoy this luxury until the time of dry season. This same flowing river would start drying up gradually until the whole young men would dig round it like a well to get water out of the place.
“This season, I can’t say it’s a bad period of the year for us here in Taran, but when it comes to water, we, especially the women and girls suffer a lot before getting water.
"We would come most times as earlier as 3am in the morning to scoop water from the well before our animals would wake up to finish it.
“Most times we would wait until around 7am in the morning after our animals had finished drinking for us to scoop water. We are not concerned much more on whether the water is safe and clean. What concerns us is just to get water to use at home.
“Whenever we had to wait till 7am in the morning, we would not be able to go to school that day because trekking from our village to the next one which only has both primary and secondary in the same classrooms would not take us less than one hour. Before we could get there, school activities would have gone half way.
“But for the grace of Almighty God, I would not have even finished primary school not to talk of proceeding to secondary school. Most times, I would not be able to take my bath or breakfast before rushing to school. It was just share determination, coupled with the grace of God."
According to reports, Nigeria is the most densely inhabited country in Africa with a population of 158 million people and growing rapidly. As the population increases, remote communities are further cut off and urban facilities become overloaded.
Poverty is widespread in Nigeria, and despite a natural wealth of gold, oil and diamonds, these potential resources are not being transformed into employment or improvements in living standards for millions of people.
Little wonder then most people would rather live in the urban areas of the country in order to enjoy little comfort including epileptic power supply, occasional supply of at least, running water, partial manageable roads and others things life itself would naturally provide for human existence.
While the fortunate ones are enjoying these ‘luxuries’, the less privilege or less fortunate remain in their various villages faced with abject poverty and abandonment by the government of the day.
Like Patrick, many of the villagers face challenges in the area of sanitation and good health. Given the fact that there is no hospital or health centre anywhere close to her village, each time there is an ‘attack’ of water borne diseases, which are mainly the diseases in the area, the villagers would go miles in search of medical attention, even though their major means of transportation is motorcycle otherwise known as Okada.
The villagers are prone to sickness because the same pond where they fetch water for domestic purposes as well as drinking, is the same where their domestic animals drink and pass urine.
According to Patrick, just within a week, about 12 people in the community with just about 200 people have been rushed to hospital due to water borne related diseases.
She said, If the people lack clean and portable water, personal hygiene is as far as the kilometers they trek to each market day to eke a living. No toilet facilities and the people are left with no other choice than to defecate on the bush paths, while the children do their own waste openly in front of their various houses.
"Their mothers would later pack it and throw it in the designated dump site. The same set of flies perching on these wastes are those ones that would spread their nests on not properly covered food."
Mrs. Rachel Sunday, one of the villagers and a housewife could not hide her frustration as she said women in this community have not only suffered raw draught, economically, they have been reduced to next to nothing.
She explained that the closest market to her village is the one at Boi, a community close to Taran with about seven kilometers. By the time the women are through with the household chores having trekked long distance or stayed awake to get water for the household, market activities would have been half gone.
Taran’s village head, Mr. Yusuf Yakubu said he had visited the Local Government Headquarters severally to solicit for the support of the Chairman in getting, at least, a borehole for the community, but all to no avail.
He even said he went begging their representative at the State Assembly to table their cause before the Honourables, the result, he said, is still long waiting in draught and sickness.
He said, “Since all my past efforts had not proved positive. I am seizing this opportunity to call on Governor Isa Yuguda and other leaders in Bauchi State to come to our aid by providing boreholes for us. On our part, we will build toilets around our houses and human waste would not be littering on the ground.”
At Haukaka Labauya village in Ganjuwa Local Government Area of the State, the village Wateraid coordinator, Safiyanu Idris said his community has been cut off the state as he explained that there is no sign or presence of government or civilization in the area.
He said, "How can our leaders visit a community without motorable road network. How would they get here. Only politicians visit during their campaign and once the election ends, that is the end of any visitor to our community.
“When we heard that your Range Rover Jeep got stuck at a bush path on your way coming here and that your tyre burst, I said welcome to our native land of suffering.
“Some of us have not seen electricity before not to talk of television set. We have only one borehole that serve our community with about one million inhabitants. Most times we don’t bath throughout the week except on Fridays when we want to go for Jumat service.
“None of our children go to school because the nearest school to this village is in Nasarawa, a village with over 13 kilometers away from us. We can’t allow our children to pass through the thick forest daily, risking their lives just because we want them to be educated. We are all farmers and cattle rearers.”
The 25 years old husband of two wives and five children, who spoke through an interpreter, lamented that despite series of visitations to their Local Council, no respite from any quarter.
Despite the fact that the community is prone to insurgency, no security presence in the whole area. Idris said they have a vigilante group comprising of youths of the area, who secure the community against attack.
Wateraid, sometimes ago, tried to sink a borehole in the community but could not dig deeper because of the rocky state of the place.
While the people living in the urban area of the country still get little government presence in the area of motorable roads, epileptic water and electricity supply, these remote communities don’t know what it takes to enjoy these little luxuries, hence, Janet’s beauty would have shown to the whole world.

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