Posts tagged ‘slum communities’

November 9, 2012

Cholera epidemic looms in Ekiti, as health workers strike enters eighth week

              By Wale Ajibade

It is no longer news that members of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in Ekiti State, South West Nigeria, embarked on an industrial action nearly eight weeks ago to compel the state government to meet some demands they have tabled before it, what is now news is the devastating effects the action is having on water, sanitation and hygiene in communities across the sixteen local government areas of the state.
One would recall that the workers went on strike over the non-payment of the  N19,300 ( about $150) new minimum wage to workers, the payment of  Consolidated Health Salary Scale (CONHESS)  and Consolidated Medical Salary Scale  (CONMESS)  to health workers in the councils among others.

The strike involves workers in the water, environment and sanitation (WES) departments in all the sixteen Local Government Areas in Ekiti state, south west Nigeria.

The sanitation officers and environmental health officers are well-trained professionals monitoring and sustaining good sanitation and neat environment in their rural communities and building the capacity of the rural dwellers on current development on water sanitation and hygiene in their domains.

It is a bad development as heaps of refuse, weedy environment  and animal faeces now litter
public places like markets, post offices, palaces, even local government secretariats are not left out.

At Ikole-Ekiti in Ekiti North Senatorial District of the  state, heaps of refuse and weedy environment are noticeable at the King’s Market and the post office area.

According to the WES Coordinator in the council, Mr. Niyi Fagbuyiro, the drainage between Oke Jebu and Methodist Hospital in Ikole has been blocked and flooding has now become the order of the day.

Mr. Fagbuyiro said the central market is now oozing out offensive odour and that market women have abandoned the market as a result of the decomposing body of a mad
person near the market, as well as dead domestic animals.

Investigation also revealed that all the markets and drainages are maintained by local government workers if not on strike.

Mrs Toyin Ojo and Mrs Bose Afolabi , who are indigenes of the area, opined that epidemic is looming in the community if the industrial dispute is not quickly resolved.

At Ilejemeje Local Government Area , overgrown weeds, which is a natural harbour for dangerous animals, has taken over the secretariat.

Cholera victim

A market woman, Kemi Adeolu, and a student, Tope Abayomi, pointed out that there is open defecation by residents, heaps of uncleared refuse among other poor sanitation behaviours among the people, and that council sanitary inspectors are no where to call the people to order.

In Ekiti South West Local government Area, the popular Banana market at Ilawe Ekiti , a trader John Aruleoba stated that “four of the traders in the market were taken to the nearby clinic recently due to strange ailments as a result of the untidy nature of the market”.

A Banana dealer from the Northern part of the country Hassan Madaki noted that “open defecation by buyers and sellers around the market could cause serious epidemic if not checked”.

At Ikole,  in Ekiti North Senatorial District, a primary school teacher Mrs Toyin Ojo argued that “epidemic is imminent if the Industrial dispute between the Local Government Workers and the State Government is not resolved”. While Mrs Bose Afolabi, a market woman who had abandoned her shop in the market due to the offensive odour from the dead body of a mad person said “people’s lives are at risk of communicable diseases if the dead body and those of domestic animals are not removed from the market”.

At Ilejemeje , a student Tope Abayomi painted the ugly situation of sanitation in the area “there is open defecation by residents and heaps of uncleared refuse among other poor sanitary behaviours are common features as a result of the strike”.

All these are noticeable in all the 16 Local Government Areas in Ekiti State as public places like the Local Government Secretariats, Post Office Areas and some King Palaces which are usually cleared by the Local Government Workers have been over grown by weeds and harboured reptiles.
The WES Coordinator, Mr. Michael Adebisi, emphasised that lack of close monitoring of water points for adequate maintenance has led to cases of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea.

October 23, 2012

In Jalingo: safe water is scarce like petrol, and expensive as gold

 

By Ayodele Samuel, gtms06@yahoo.com

Residents of Jalingo, Taraba State capital in Northern Nigeria, are groaning over the unending scarcity of portable water, writes AYODELE SAMUEL, a blogger at www.ayodelenews.blogspot.com reports.

“Water, they say is life”, and the human body constitute of 70% of this liquid substance, as such water tops the priority list of the demand of mankind. 80% of diseases plaguing humanity are due to use or consumption of unsafe water.

It is generally believed that the accessibility of sufficient quantities of  portable water and safe sanitation facilities to a household determines the quality of life of the people and potential for poverty alleviation. This leads to the welfare improvement and is generally linked to a decrease in infant and maternal mortality, increase nutritional values and environmental hygiene.

In Jalingo, accessing portable water by residents remains a major battle forcing residents of the city to rely on local vendor popularly called Mai ruwa and few streams for water, while public water supply remained exclusive for the rich in the state.

Children at a bole hole n Jalingo

Wurom Musa, is a one of the slum communities in Jalingo, and is inhabited mainly by farmers and traders. Here the only source of water for domestic consumption is a local stream about 7 killometers  away. away. What would have served as a safer source of water supply- a two  hand-pump boreholes donated to the community 5 years ago,  had collapsed

In another slum community, Barade ward, there are tales of woes and anguish  whenever the Lamorde River, the only source of water in the area,  dries up, typically  during dry season. When this occurs, residents of the  community are left with no other option than to buy from ‘Mai Ruwa’ water vendors, whose source of water is unknown.

In another community, Agangagwasa, a resident, ,  Julian Bala narrated that getting water for domestic use is a major challenge.

“because here is a new area with plenty people, water is our problem, when the wells in the area  are dried up, it’s a difficult  to get water because, we trek long distance searching for water as if you are looking for petrol, its saddening because water board is not here”

Another resident, Mrs. Franca Osita told me that  she starts her day by searching for water, “I  have to wake up early and walk to   the stream to get water, or else buy from the water vendors and then prepare the children for school before resuming business, this is usually difficult for me”

She called on the government to show more concern to the untold suffering water scarcity has brought upon the people, by making provision for more boreholes and making sure that the taps are running again.

The Ward head of Mayo-Gwoi Village, in peri urban Jalingo, Mr. Aliyu Jassa, said the lack of access to portable water in the city is harming their health.

Due to lack of water from the taps, some of us depend largely on  Mai ruwa, and those who cannot afford to buy, have to depend on the river. Unfortunately we’ve had cases of cholera that have resulted to the loss of lives, especially pregnant women and children, I almost lost my children too, but thank God for quick intervention”

Hamman Yakubu a retired bank official, on his part lamented the hike in price of water by local vendors.  “Me and my family consume not less than three trucks a day at N200 per a truck of ten jerry-cans each, but we are at the mercy of the water vendors, who sometimes hike the price of the water at will,” adding that  it’s  too expensive for an average citizen in the state who earns less than N18, 000 per month, considering  other family expenses like sending the children to school.

Mr. Yakubu also noted that though there are pipes laid down for distribution to homes, but too expensive to embark upon, as it will cost N60,000 for the installation per home; adding  that the pipes have rusted due to non-usage resulting to  health hazard for the few consumers.

Other residents across the city bemoan the recurrent shortage of water andoverdependence for water supply on Mai ruwa whom sources of water is not known to the consumer.

Chairman of Taraba state water vendors, Mr. Muhamadu Ahmed said “there are over 20,000 members of the association scattered in various location of Jalingo”

Danlami Musa a water vendor said, he  sells as much as fifteen trucks a day and due to the high demand of the product he often have to go in search of water from the stream, stating that sometimes the water from the borehole is not sufficient to go round.

Secretary of the Association of water vendors in Jalingo, Mr. Iliya Jacob who had been in the business for more than 14 years said his service is an alternative to government.

“ I have been providing water for this entire area for 13 years, people troop in from distances to come here for water, sometimes we have to give them for free, as a humanitarian service, we see the untold hardship on our people, we regard our services as an alternative to the government, because most people cannot afford to buy trucks of water per day, there is no other option for getting portable water”  he added.

He identify causes of water scarcity in city as “dryness of well and stream majorly during dry season and well water  changing color during raining seasons, and sometimes due to the activity of the pumping machine, it drains water from the ground which often cause some temporal water shortage from the ground, and leads to dry wells.”

The Area Manager of Taraba Water Supply Board, Jalingo district,  Mr. Bitrus Bambur admitted to ravaging  water shortage in the city:

the product don’t seems to be available, however the government is doing its best to meet up with the challenges.“ The Government is doing its best, the Taraba water supply board is operational on a daily basis, but coverage is not much, due to the growing population of the city, the coverage area is presently at 32%,”

Some of the challenges facing the State Water Board according to investigation includes obsolete machines that needs renovation and replacements,  inadequate funding , deficiency in human resource development, and manpower that has reduced from 600 to 324 since the creation of the state.

Children searching for water on the streets of Jalingo

Other challenges according to Mr. Mambur, is the need to upgrade the facilities  for water distribution, stating that  only six out of the fourteen boreholes  in the Board are functional. Calling on the  the government to subsidize water supply, in the state  rather than putting  more money  in providing drugs, Mr Mambur said the proper funding of the Board and efficient supply of safe water will help prevent diseases.

A government official who does not want his name in print confirmed that that the State Government recently  accessed a loan from the African Development Bank, to enable it upgrade the water supply  coverage in the state from 32% to 75% .

The story is contributed by Ayodele Samuel, and 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.

February 27, 2012

Life in Slum Communities in Monrovia

By Mustapha Sesay Mustaphasesay25@yahoo.com

Travelling along the coastal areas of most West African cities, one will be worried to see the overcrowded situation in these places.
Most people spoken to advanced reasons for it being the cheapest place to live and easily get access into the cities at a cheaper cost.

Monrovia is no exception to this; on a visit to two slum communities, West Point that hosts over 50 thousand people and Clara Town that hosts 48 thousand people, the plights created by the lack of sanitation, hygiene and quality water is unimaginable as one million people are dying slowly from sanitation, water and hygiene.

In Clara County, a suburb of Monrovia, located on Bushrod Island in Liberia in Montserrado, the birth place of the famous football star and now politician, George Weah, is very worrisome as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Journalists from fourteen West African Countries were moved with pity when the Headman David Jacob and community people disclosed that for years now there are only few pipes or water wells to meet the growing demand for water. Most get water from youths who sell it in gallons. Others will have to wait in line for hours or a days to at least get water to take home.
According to Albert, a resident, they are worried that one of their main taps or water wells is very close to the public toilets. To worsen the situation, most of the houses are without toilets or bathrooms. With such large population, there are only eleven public toilets. So people are now making it a habit of defecating in plastic bags and either throwing it on top of the roof of houses or along the streets.

This, in Monrovia, is called OPERATION CHAPEL BALL OR TODU BALL, meaning one must be careful at night not to encounter artificial bombs of toilets thrown in plastic bags.
To many this is not only polluting the air but also the main source of water during the rains. As such, the health of the population is greatly affected from both air and water contaminated diseases that are easily spread from one person to the next.
One major factor for this menace is that the population has grown at a rapid rate and the facilities cannot match with it. It is on this note that the elders are calling on the attention of the government and other agencies working on hygiene, water and sanitation to create alternative sources of getting affordable drinking water, establish dustbin sites, organize the youths to clean the environment and construct more public toilets.

Unlike Clara Town, the situation at West Point that hosts over fifty thousand people is nothing good to write home about. Commissioner Sylvester Lama emphasized that it is a threat to a cosmopolitan community. The population comprises different nationalities in the West Africa region engaged in diverse works of life.

Unfortunately, though it is one of the oldest counties, created in 1952 and named after West Point Military Academy of the United States of America with six different communities yet lacks adequate safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. On site visit, the shallow wells by the sea area are meant for cooking and domestic work. To get drinking water, they either travel to Clara Town, buy rubbers of water or travel to distant places.

As if this was not enough, the toilet facilities is unimaginable, the homes lack toilets, the youths who cannot afford to pay for the use of public toilets have to rush to the seaside and deposit waste products. For the other, they make use of make shift toilets that are opened to both men and women in the same building on a first come first serve basis. It is apportioned into smaller rooms; from the bowels of man directly in to the water all these waste are found floating by the seaside.
Here it is a matter of re-cycling of waste products. Most of the inhabitations are fishermen. So the fish eat the toilets and they are caught and sold or eaten by the locals. This means the toilets in another form goes back to Man and then to the fish.

It is no surprise that the Commissioner highlighted the health status of the 50 thousand people who are usually affected by water born diseases, pollution and unhygienic environment. It is as a result of this issue that the elders and Commissioners are now seeing the dangers of the makeshift pit toilets and now calling for the building of flush community toilets.
It is also suggested that the youths be empowered to regularly clean the beaches and costal areas. There should be more education programmes on hygiene, water and sanitation and platforms must be created where the youth and elders can sit and address these problems.

This situation is compounded on the grounds that there is no hospital at West Point. It was reported that for a place closer to the city, people are carried in wheelbarrows to hospitals far away. Recently, a pregnant woman died as a result of this acute situation. The educational facilities are also deplorable as there is only one public school.

The irony of this situation is that if we cannot address the situation in the city or its environment, what can we say about the rural towns and villages that are away from the seat of power
It’s now time to save the one million population in these two slum areas of Monrovia by ensuring that we raise the effects of there deplorable conditions among slum developers, sensitize the inhabitants on the need to practice hygiene, sanitation and getting access to clean and affordable water so that we tend to see a healthy and productive environment

February 23, 2012

Millions lack access to WASH services in Liberia, Sierra Leone


                                                     By MUSTAPHA SESAY Mustaphasesay25@yahoo.com

What will the World be in the not too distant future if modalities are not put in place by World Leaders, Policy Makers, and Agencies towards  the deteriorating  situations of millions of deprived communities affected by lack of access to quality and affordable water, sanitation and hygiene?

As the adage goes, ‘when I see, I feel the plight of the situation, when I hear, I recall and when I touch, I am moved by the reality on the ground.’ This is exactly the situation of most slum communities and urban areas where the population exceeds the basic social amenities.

Taking a closer look at two post war countries; Sierra Leone and Liberia, one is bound to compare and contrast the deplorable slum situation between the two countries.

POOR SANITATION AT KROO BAY

One common feature is that Kroo Bay in Sierra Leone and West Point in Monrovia were places that housed thousands of internally displaced that fled the rural areas for the cities during the civil wars that ravaged the two countries. It was during that period that population explosion took place in urban areas there by ruining most of the facilities. After the war, most of the youths refused going back to their original places as some took up petty trading and established make shift structures as they had nothing to go back to.

MAKE SHIFT TOILETS AT WEST POINT

Despite promises by Governments of these countries to relocate these slum dwellers to safer and conducive places, yet this has not been feasible due to economic and political reasons.

Speaking to some elders and politicians, some of the factors responsible for the halting of such venture is that it is difficult to relocate a population of over thirty thousand to a site as the cost involved is so exorbitant as huge funds are needed for the relocated site to have basic facilities to prevent the people returning to their previous places.

Further more funds are not always available to ensure that the empty spaces left behind are utilized for developmental purposes. As a result, the criminals will utilize such places as their hide out that will pose security threat to the society.

Another worrisome issue discussed by most of the people in these slum communities is that most have stayed in those localities with children going to schools, so it becomes very difficult to move over to a new site.

Notwithstanding some of these views,  It is becoming clear that life in these two communities are plagued with diseases, pollution, environmental hazards as a result of the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene for the growing population.

On the area of sanitation, Kroo Bay has a stream flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, most of the house hold waste, and toilets are thrown into this stream. During the day children and pigs are seeing washing in the stream thus water born diseases are easily contracted

In the rainy season, the whole area is flooded as the water from the city is emptied into this area before getting into the ocean.  With this, there has been reported cases of flooding and loss of life and properties

Crime rate is high in this community simply because there is no proper building planning making it prone to fire disaster.

Unlike West Point   located on a peninsula  on the  Atlantic Ocean between the Mesurado and Saint Paul rivers that is resided by people from 14 West African countries .It is worth noting that this area is the main source of fish  but it is disheartening to see the deplorable nature of the community with a high rate illiteracy and without basic sanitation and health facilities. To worsen the situation, the community cannot boast of a single government clinic and a school to educate the children of basic hygiene and sanitation.

As a way of getting the view of the Commissioner of the area Sylvester Larno, WASH facilities in the town is one of the worst in the capital of Liberia.

Dilating on sanitation issue, Kroo Bay in Sierra Leone is far better than as compared to West Point, the reason being that some of the houses have toilets and there is a public toilet that is decent unlike West Point with a few make shift toilets. And even with that, only those who can afford money will have to make use of the structures while the poor practice open defecation to the disadvantage of the population. There are times youths do clean their areas and the major street making it accessible to most of the social facilities in the city.

Pure drinking water is accessible as tap water and wells could be visible, while at West point, it is the opposite as residents have to walk miles, buy plastic water or drink the unhygienic water that is closer to defecation centres.

SCRAMBLE  FOR WATER IN SLUM COMMUNITY

Some common features about slum communities are that they characteristic of overcrowding that are prone to epidemic diseases. This in return will affect the health status of the population. There is no privacy and most of the children grow up with bad attitudes in life. During the rains, flooding is the order of the day in these areas closer to the sea.

Notwithstanding these menace, improving sanitation, water and hygienic facilities will curtail the spread of diseases. There is need for regular sanitization and awareness programmes on these issues. Some of the youths should be provided with skill training jobs so that with livelihood, they can look out for decent places to stay.

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