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January 19, 2013

Sorie Town battles with Water shortage

By Salifu Conteh, Water and Sanitation Media Network S/L

The world’s great Philosophers after critically studying the significance of water in the daily sustenance of humans as they patch to find it, hold the fact that this natural substance is the main nourishment of life. This accepted fact has become the universal truth and its shortage or inaccessibility or affordability has become a global concern.

As the population continues to grow, the search for water not mentioning it purification and hygiene unabatedly continues to hit the world. Many qualities have been couched or converted about water and all these when critically looked at, it worth its meaning, and candidly there is nowhere in the world, where the use of water is not visible or on the contrary its shortage creates an herculean problem which can be easily seen on the faces of the victims.

The trek for pure water is slowly becoming very difficult for the world population breeding in bad sanitation which at the end gives birth to the acute health hazards. Pure drinking water and proper sanitary system are like two bed fellows and the lack or shortage of one leads to unwanted problems, forms part of the world’s Human Development Index which is globally now an impetus used to rate a country or nation.

The Donwell constructed close to a running gutter in the Community

The Donwell constructed close to a running gutter in the Community

Pure drinking water and improved sanitation is the backbone for proper health system and better living standard, as scientist have confirmed that a healthy body system can ably resist any incoming virus that may wants to invade the body. Meaning, especially in the third world countries (predominantly Africa) communities has the zest for pure drinking water and good sanitation many of these deplorable community despite the frantic efforts of the government suffers the brunt for proper water.

Though some have attributed such mishaps to the location of such community but the underlying note is that access to proper water and sanitation for every human being is a must and it absence is a violation and the consequences could not over emphasized, taking into cognizance communities like the KrooBay, Moe Wharf, Big Wharf, Sorie Town, Sumaila Town among others. It will be interesting that it is opined that water comes down from the hill up to the flat land, interestingly in some of these communities it is the reverse as the hillside areas which supposed to spill fresh water are the most affected and most deprived, investigations have shown that any outbreak will be disastrous especially for the children and lactating mother.

Taking a leg walk to the Sorie Town Community, back of the Pademba Road Maximum Prison, underlying the foot of the Fourah Bay College in the western area surrounded by Dwarzak Community, Sumaila Town Community etc., the patch for pure drinking water is alarming and touches the hearts as little children, pregnant women and others carrying containers trekking miles for water.

It has been like this for the past twenty-five(25) years now in this community leaving people somber  each day. The community is predominantly dominated by the third largest group in the country situated at Ward 375 Constituency 106 in the Central part of Freetown. The accessibility and affordability to pipe borne ware to them is impossible. Every year the period between December and the next rainy season is met by hordes of men, women and children scampering helter skelter at every hour of the day and night in search of clean drinking water.

When it rains the community piles all their utensils for water to easy the day’s trek, no matter how much.

Investigation revealed that the community initially source water from bore holes which they normally used for domestic purposes and trek miles in search of drinkable water.

According to information, some people who could not make it for drinking water had no option but to use those bore holes water to drink. ‘We’ve used to the water and we preferred them than the water. In fact it ease the burden of trekking miles away for a container or bucket of drinking water’, an old woman told me. She said, her age would not allow her to cover those distance for pure drinking water unless from the bore holes few yards from her house which she uses and she never complaint about any illness.

The dried water running site at Sorie Town

The dried water running site at Sorie Town

Mamie Ndeamor, further said, prior to this period when she and her late husband first settled in the community water was not a problem as there was fresh and good water running from the hill top. The surrounding communities were even jealous of Sorie Town as they usually come to fetch water from the community. It was because of the sufficiency of water in the community, lures inhabitants to engage in farming as most of the fresh leaves and crops were coming from Sorie Town.

Appallingly as things unraveled and with the influx of people putting structures everywhere without proper planning and preservation of the catchment areas the water has dried up and the site is almost like a dumping site oozing out little water.

It is sad, a young girl intimated this press, that during the dry season when the bore holes and dug out wells is dried people queued in those areas to fetch water.

Faced with such alarming situation, the community which is almost over populated dug out series of wells approximately closed to the narrow gutters for water and most of these wells the water there are not hygienic for human being. This menace affects most of the youths and school going pupils who had to tote a gallon or more depending on the size of the family everyday up and down the hill. For the school going pupils, they had to wake up very early in the morning in search of water and sometimes missed their first periods in class, whilst other get hits by motor bikes, for the young girls even get pregnant along the line since they have to trek miles and hours to fetch water before and after school. It is a serious problem in the community.

Joseph Turay, a middle age man, said the water problem in the community is not a new thing as it has been the usual talk and they have made many moves for an improvement but to no avail. He added that the politicians who normally visited the community are au- fait with these problems but have failed to help as they usually make vague promises. Prior to this period, a certain politician started the construction of a proper water system, but ceased to continue the work because the community refused to vote him as honourable Member of Parliament. ‘Basically, the project was like abate for the community people undertaken by the then politician’ he emphasized.

The Donwell, which is the major source of water in the community, was constructed this year by on Mr. Gerbar to salvage the problem. The well  though below the hygienic standards is always over crowded as community people both young and old had to throng with their containers to fetch  water back home in order to save time off the miles trek for water. But the million question that runs down the mind is how pure is the water since it is coming from an open well, is it normally treated by the community or the Health and Sanitation Ministry?. Suffice to say that many of our wells in the different communities round the country only received treatment when there is an outbreak, like the cholera outbreak that engulfed many lives.

The plight faced by the Sorie Town Community, is also visible in the other surrounding communities like the Sumaila Town, Dwarzak among others, where people had to walk miles off their houses to fetch water for diverse purposes. Visiting these communities will you will feel poverty, therefore one would not bother to talk about the purchase of packet water.

It will interest readers to note that despite the suffering of the people, there has not been any proper community mobilization and advocacy programmes put in place for pure water system in the community, neither from the government nor donors. And the looming danger is, had there been any outbreak of disease likes the cholera which had left nearly many homes in tears, it will be disastrous. Secondly, because of the unchecked encroachment of catchment areas the country will soon be faced with serious drought and there is also the possibility of landslide in these areas if nothing is done speedily. Meaning, it is not just about water insufficiency but the possibility of herculean problem hovering the communities in this country.

For instance, the slums areas, KrooBay, Big Wharf, Moa Wharf, Kanikay Wharf among others where people are using sticks and stones to bank the sea water, no pure drinking water, no proper sanitary system etc. had there been any flooding as happened elsewhere in the world it will be disastrous.

Coming back to my case study, which is Sorie Town, due to the unhygienic water, dug close to gutters and the poor sanitary system, the most prevalence disease in the community is Typhoid and Malaria. For the little children, they most often died of diarrhea and vomiting, not to mention pregnant women who normally gave birth under strenuous conditions. Many of those, whom this author was fortunate to run through (especially school going pupils) expressed their frustration and disappointment on the undue suffering they are faced with in search of pure water, which seriously affects their studies.

It is obvious, that there is an urgent need for government through the line Ministries to come up with a comprehensive programme of action to adequately address the crying needs affecting the hillside and hilltop communities. ‘What we need is for government to take on Water and Sanitation with a sense of urgency and make it a national concern’ a young school girl emphasized.

This article is produced by Water and Sanitation Media Network, Sierra Leone Chapter in partnership with West Africa WaterAid and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council .

November 6, 2012

Water scarcity may hit ekiti state, Nigeria

Adesina Wahab, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria

Despite the promise by the Ekiti State Government  in South West Nigeria to lay 20 kilometres of water pipes in Ado-Ekiti this year to boost water supply in the state capital and having budgeted N1.2 billion for the water sector this year, most residents of the town and other major towns in the state are still faced with acute water supply and are afraid that the situation could worsen in the coming dry season.

The fear of the residents is coming against the fact that the state has seven major dams, most of which are in deplorable condition.

The promise by the government early in the year to lay 20 kilometres of water pipes in Ado-Ekiti, investigation has revealed, is still in the work less than two months to the end of the year.

Late January this year, the Special Adviser on Infrastructure and Public Utilities to the Governor, Mr. Kayode Jegede, told newsmen at a public forum that the state government would spend N18 million on consultancy and N12 on logistics in its bid to find a lasting solution to water shortage in the state.

Ekiti state Governor, Kayode fAYEMI

He had promised then that the new water pipes to be laid before the end of the year would help in getting water to more homes in the town.

However, nothing is happening as residents of most areas of Ado-Ekiti namely Adebayo, Iworoko Road, Basiri, Oke-Ila, Ajilosun among others have to rely on wells, boreholes and other sources to get their daily water supply.

Badly hit by the inadequate water supply are towns in Ekiti South and Central Senatorial Districts of which Ado-Ekiti is number one.

Ado-Ekiti, which is supposed to be served by, water from Ureje Dam, is still battling with inadequate water supply and the few public fetching points are as dry as ever.

At Ureje Water Works in Ado-Ekiti, officials of the Water Corporation are blaming the situation on paucity of funds, inadequate supply of electricity, lack of boosters to make water flow to designated areas, old water pipes that do burst frequently etc as factors hindering their performance.

Findings showed  that it is only Ero Dam, located in Ewu-Ekiti, Ekiti North Senatorial District, that is producing at nearly half its capacity, thereby able to supply water intermittently to few town in the zone.

However, the residents of the state were taken aback last week when the state government said it would start to install meters in public water fetching points before the end of the year to regulateusage of pipe-borne water in the state

The Special Adviser to the Governor, Kayode Jegede, said the metering system would commence in Igogo and Ikosu communities in Moba Local Government Area of the state as pilots for the programmes.

The two towns are served by Ero Dam.

The governor’s aide said Ekiti State would benefit from the European Union (E.U) financing of water projects in 2013 alongside Plateau and Adamawa states.

Commenting on the development, a community leader in Ado-Ekiti, Mr. Femi Omolusi, described the water situation in the state as shocking.

According to him, “it is unimaginable that the state which has seven dams is still experiencing water shortage and people are living in the fear of water-borne diseases. Remember that only a couple of months ago, the state government raised the alarm of cholera outbreak in some towns and when the dry season sets in, where will people have access to water.”

 

The story is published under the pro poor WASH stories project implemented by the Water and Sanitation Media Network Nigeria, with the support of West Africa WASH Media Network, WaterAid, and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.

June 4, 2012

Poor WASH Polices and its Effects

By Mustapha Sesay-Sierra Leone, Email: mustaphasesay@yahoo.com

Unlike the Dry season in most African states that are characterized by acute water shortage, the Rainy season has stated and the masses are seriously going to feel the devastating effects due to lack of effective WASH policies in most areas
Sierra Leone is one of the places worst hit by poor water, hygiene and sanitation facilities at this time of the year as a result of man’s own activities to its environment.
Moving through the major streets of the cities, i.e. Freetown, Bo, Kenema and Makeni, one common feature that is visible is the piles of garbage deposited all over by petty traders after the day’s sales. The drainage are so narrow that most of the waste materials fill these places and flow onto the streets thereby polluting the environment. In the market places, the single dustbin sites built by the Councils are not only overfilled but stinky as these places are left unattended making them breeding grounds for flies, mosquitoes, and mice.

It is alarming that when Council and the Waste Management Company are unable to perform their role of ensuring a healthy clean environment, the traders are left with no option but to deposit unwanted materials in various places. Though the places are filthy and flea infested, traders with cooked food or consumable food stuff are forced to occupy these filthy places and sell to the public. It is for this reason that at the start of the rains one is not surprised to hear of frequent reported cases of outbreak of Cholera, Dysentery, etc. What worries most people is that even the roads to these market places are muddy and filthy, yet Council is not doing much to address the issue. There are times suckling mothers will be busy selling consumable goods and at the same time attending to their babies. Apart from spreading diseases to the public, the cold environment is a health hazard to the baby.
Looking at the places where most of these traders come from in the morning hours, apart from the congestion of most residential areas, it is a common practice for most to throw their dirt into the drainages rather than depositing them in the dustbins. Others will prefer looking for empty rice sacks or drums to keep their garbage for days and weeks. The ugliest part of this scenario is that when it rains during the night people will be seen carrying their piles of rubbish to be deposited in the gutters and drainages, and at most times in the frontage of residences. Not in the least worried about where the rubbish ends up, it is no surprise that most are found flooding the streets and in some cases where houses are built in low level areas these unwanted materials are flooding the compounds of their fellow community people, while still hampering the smooth flow of traffic and pedestrians as they litter the streets.
The situation is unprecedented and has been viewed as very unhygienic as it presents a bad image of the cities to the public, especially visitors to our cities and country.
In most areas shrouded with poor WASH facilities, it is very deplorable to witness as household family members defecating in buckets, locked up tightly in their bathrooms only to be thrown in to the gutters and drainages when it rains; it is not uncommon at night to find people defecating in black plastic bags and throw them in the streets, bringing with them flies. It is on this note that people are advised not to pick up black plastic bags found along the streets after a heavy downpour of rain.
Another area that is hard hit by poor WASH facilities during the rainy season are the slum areas. Most of our cities especially along the west coast of Africa, special reference to Sierra Leone, are surrounded by slum communities which are mostly located by the seaside or coastal areas. Typical examples are the MOA Wharf, Kroo Bay, and Susan’s Bay to name but a few.
The plight of housing facilities is felt more seriously at this time of the year when the population has to battle with a wet environment and flooding. The population has to be up each time it rains heavily, as the deluge of water empties itself into these areas before it finally goes into the sea. Some of the ugliest feature of these communities especially Kroo Bay in the West of the city is that they are overcrowded with makeshift structures that are poorly built
With heavy torrential rains, these houses or areas are over flooded with rooms not spared.
With this, People at night wake up swimming in their houses or rooms reaching for places of safety. For the past years, the rainy season has been a worrisome moment as animals, properties and human lives are destroyed because the rain washes all along its path into the sea. In the past, there were plans to move the people within these places to safer areas but nothing of this is now heard about. In the city, the poor drainage construction is also of concern to the public as the flooded drainages are a death trap for school children and strangers as there are cases of children having been swept away only to be later found dead.
As a result of the outbreak of diseases associated with poor water, sanitation and hygiene practices in our cities, flooding and destruction of lives and properties at this time of the year, the Central and Local Government in the past and present have used various strategies to address some of these burning issues, yet the problem still persists.
Before now, it was a common practice by the City Council in collaboration with Clean Salone and the Freetown Waste Management Company to ensure that the city and its environs are clean and environmentally friendly. Most of these strategies have been fruitless as a result of one’s attitudes towards maintaining a clean and friendly environment.
Previously, it had been scheduled that the last Friday of every month be “National Cleaning Day”; from 6am to 10am. All were expected to be within their environment cleaning their houses and compounds. Those who are caught along the streets doing nothing were either subjected to cleaning public places or arrested and later fined in the courts of law.
Though it was a good drive to ensure a clean environment, it was later misconstrued by certain sectors of the community. While it was meant to clean the environment, others were using the opportunity to throw all the dirt or rubbish accumulated for weeks along the streets. With the lack of man power/trucks on the side of the Council to speedily clear the piled up dirt, the rubbish was again scattered in the streets hampering the smooth flow of traffic. Though it is the mandate of the Council to clean the city, it was ironical that the city ended up becoming the dirtiest place after every cleaning exercise.
If today we as a nation prefer a clean environment devoid of health risk hazards, there is the need for all to observe best WASH practices in the sub-region and the country.

March 24, 2012

6e Forum mondial de l’eau : Quand Marseille rêve d’un monde sans soif

Une pénurie d'eau à Boriban, un village du Bénin

C’est une nouvelle histoire de l’eau qui s’écrit à Marseille depuis le 12 mars. Venus de 170 pays, près de 20 000 participants se sont retrouvés pour échanger et réfléchir afin de donner satisfaction aux deux milliards de personnes dans le monde, qui vivent encore dans l’angoisse de la soif. Après une levée de rideau réussie, les sessions, tables rondes…ont permis une fois encore de faire des propositions concrètes.

Alain TOSSOUNON(tossounon@gmail.com)

Voici venue l’heure des solutions. Le rêve de toutes ces populations qui attendent encore de boire de l’eau potable. C’est l’engagement qu’a pris le forum de Marseille en affichant dès son démarrage, sa volonté de mettre les solutions à l’ordre du jour de l’agenda des discussions.
En ouvrant les travaux de ce rendez-vous qui se tient trois ans après celui d’Istanbul en Turquie et 15 ans après le premier à Marrakech au Maroc, le président du Conseil mondial de l’eau ; Loïc Fauchon a signifié qu’au temps des incantations doit succéder celui des solutions. C’est pourquoi, il s’est félicité de la mise en place d’un ” village des solutions ” qui contribue au partage et à la circulation des solutions.
Car, a-t-il rappelé à tous, il ne faut jamais oublier qu’ «accéder à une eau propre et abondante», est le rêve d’une partie importante de la population de ce monde. Ainsi, il n’y a pas de raison de se féliciter des petits pas enregistrés tant qu’il reste beaucoup à faire. A quoi sert le droit de vote si l’on n’a pas le droit de vivre et le droit de vivre, c’est d’abord le droit d’accéder à l’eau ! s’est-il exclamé en comparant l’eau à la liberté. Aujourd’hui, face au nombre important de personnes vivant sans accès à l’eau, on est passé du besoin à l’urgence et de rappeler qu’il n’y a pas de développement sans eau. Offrant un tableau riche en couleurs et en sons, la chorale des enfants marseillais, tous en chœur ont lancé un vibrant appel à ” sauver l’eau ” de la ” folie des hommes “. Mais l’instant fort de cette levée de rideau a été le témoignage des deux jeunes touaregs venus du nord Mali. ” La soif, ce feu qui brûle la gorge après trois heures d’attente devant un puits, l’envie de vomir après avoir bu une eau contaminée par les pluies ou l’angoisse face au bétail qui meurt “, dira le jeune Sid Ahmed Ag Ahmouden pour replonger les participants dans le calvaire hydrique que vit au quotidien le peuple nomade touareg. Au-delà de ce forum, il faut mettre la question de l’eau au cœur de tous les agendas et le prochain sommet de la terre sera une grande tribune pour lancer encore un cri d’appel, a indiqué le président du comité international du forum, le brésilien Bénédicto Braga. Il faut «arriver à imposer l’eau sur la table de Rio+20», a-t-il signifié.
Venu en lieu et place de Nicolas Sarkozy pour ouvrir officiellement le forum, le premier ministre français François Fillon a salué tous les progrès accomplis depuis plusieurs années en référence au dernier rapport de l’ONU qui indique que désormais, 89% des habitants de la planète ont accès à l’eau. Reste désormais, la question cruciale de l’assainissement à laquelle, il a lancé un appel à la mobilisation pour voler au secours des 2,5 milliards de personnes qui vivent sans toilettes.
Mais selon François Fillon, pour avancer durablement sur ces questions, il faut mettre en place une organisation mondiale de l’environnement à l’instar de l’Organisation mondiale du commerce (OMC). «Il n’y a pas de raison que cela existe pour le commerce et non pour l’eau», a-t-il indiqué.
Pour terminer, il a vanté la riche expérience française, le modèle ” original ” français fondé sur l’organisation en régie ou sur délégation des services publics qui favorisent un meilleur accès aux services de l’eau et de l’assainissement.

Des incantations aux solutions
Le 6e forum mondial de l’eau se veut une rencontre de solutions. Et, en marge des pavillons d’exhibition et stands d’expositions des entreprises, pays, associations, organisations qui interviennent dans le secteur, on découvre ” un village des solutions “. C’est un véritable village qui met en lumière des réponses qui font école, des solutions originales et innovantes qui font leur preuve. Surtout, elles émanent d’acteurs divers et diversifiés : experts, entreprises, élus, bailleurs, associations ou simples citoyens. Institutionnelles, techniques, financières, légales…ce bouillon de solutions reste un grand pas dans la recherche de solutions afin de rompre avec les discours pour passer au concret.
Expérience réussie, cette initiative de village de solution aura commencé avant même le démarrage du forum sur la toile. Annoncé comme forum des solutions, le comité international a lancé une plateforme http://www.solutionsforwater.org pour recueillir en ligne des propositions et réponses concrètes aux enjeux et défis de l’eau et de l’assainissement sur toute la planète. Au total, 1400 contributions ont été recensées avec l’Europe en tête (plus de la moitié), le Proche et le Moyen-Orient et la zone Asie-Pacifique approchent les 400, le continent américain, nord et sud, les 230 et l’Afrique 120 contributions.
Ces différentes contributions, loin d’être des solutions accomplies, constituent des pistes et alimentent les réflexions sur les problématiques majeures du secteur de l’eau et de l’assainissement.
Après la plateforme de solutions sur la toile, avec le village de solutions, le 6e forum mondial de l’eau de Marseille aura innové pour avoir recentrée les échanges et débats sur les solutions et offert une place et un espace à l’exhibition des solutions.

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