Posts tagged ‘water sanitation and hygiene’

November 7, 2012

Abuja residents in search of water, good sanitation


                                                                                                  Marcus Fatunmole , Abuja, Nigeria

Iddo is one of Abuja’s (Nigeria’s Federal Capital’s) sprawling satellite communities with about 30,000 residents in January 2012. The village is predominantly occupied by non-indigenes. While the natives are virtually farmers and artisans, the non-natives mainly work in the city while others engage in both artisanal and business activities.

Residents in search

Located few metres opposite the new site of University of Abuja, the community exists without significant infrastructure. The road leading to the village is ramshackle. With erratic electricity supply, residents of the community are most hit by acute water shortage. There is no functional public borehole even as the population of the University students living in the community keeps increasing, daily.

However, a public primary school with a separately-built junior secondary school, including a single-room police station are the only facilities bearing government presence in the settlement.

In April 2012, many houses in the village fell under the wheels of bulldozers of the Department of Development Control of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The Development Control had listed some villages along the airport road for demolition. Reason: structures in the villages, the Department claimed, did not get approval from the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) administration. Iddo was unfortunately one of such communities. It was a period of multiple torments for the community. First, stench, oozing malodorous smell from different sections of the village blended with dust that enveloped the community, as the bulldozers tore down the structures.

Priscilia Jonah is a resident of the community, which currently has about 20,000 occupants. He told our reporter that “For those of us remaining in this place, we are not happy with the way people are managing their wastes. You see people dispose of domestic waste in the already blocked drainages. Every rainfall in this village is a threat because we are so close to the river. You know anything can happen should the flood refuse to get out of environment where houses are closely built near one another. I have always been afraid of the attitudes of our people. Go to their houses, many of them don’t have toilet. They defecate in the open. They litter everywhere with wastes. If you try to correct them, it will lead to quarreling.”

Iddo is no doubt one of the city’s communities that are on the precipice of environmental hazards. Since the community witnessed the rage of the FCT administration through its demolition exercise, many of the hitherto manageable problems have been compounded. Some persons who had dug boreholes in their homes before the demolition exercise have moved out of the village; while they left with the water equipment. The relics of fallen buildings in the village have also further disfigured the settlement. Files of fallen bricks are everywhere in the village; making them easy habitat for snakes, scorpion and other harmful reptiles.

Meanwhile, as houses of non-natives were mostly affected in the flattening exercise, many of the remaining houses in the community do not have basic toilet facilities. Many people, especially children defecate in the open. More worrisome are the polythene products that litter everywhere. Some of these products, which have been buried for years, surface whenever flood or heavy wind blows of the sand upon them.  

Like many settlements in Abuja, domestic animals contribute to growing filth in the community. There are goats, dogs, fowls and other domestic pets that move around the village unchecked. They defecate wherever they see and most often, no one cares to attend to those wastes. On many occasions, the wastes disappear with the flood, blown away by wind or trodden by residents.

Another major environmental disaster in the village is lack of motorable roads. Major roads in the village are footpaths which residents have forced their vehicles through. At every rainy season, these car owners find it difficult to drive their vehicles into their homes. The vehicles are usually parked at considerably “secured” places; sometimes in the homes of friends or neighbours.

There is a major river that flows across the farthest end of Iddo village. The natives usually find respite in this water, especially during the dry season. While the children have free bath in the river, the adults fetch it for domestic use. Meanwhile, this water dries up during the dry season. Then comes a great water challenge for the villagers. Many of them dig the dry channel to scoop water into their basins; even when such water is not safe for human consumption.

 On the other, in very few houses where borehole water is available for sale, it takes resident more than a day to get the water. Many of the residents keep broken basins at the borehole site to help determine when it would be their turn. In most cases, they do not get the water until the following day.

Another dimension to water crisis in this village is that while young men, popularly called “Meruwa”, who sell water in their wheelbarrows in the nation’s capital sell as low as N20 during dry season, challenge of bad road makes the persons who sell water in Iddo community increase the price even above N50 per 20 litres. The situation is also worse with the very few persons who sell through private boreholes to the community. They increase their prices at will.

October 23, 2012

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


By Ayodele Samuel,

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

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

January 24, 2012

Local Government launch WASH Development plan

             By David Ayodele, Bauchi State, NIGERIA


Dass Local Government in Bauchi State (NIGERIA) in partnership with three communities have approved a joint local development plan to fast track rapid transformation of some villages through improved water, sanitation and hygiene services in 2012.

This followed an interface meeting facilitated by WODASS, a Dass Based NGO and Tiship a USAID support project which brought local council officials face to face with community members of Baraza, Lushi, and Zumbul all in Dass LGA.


The interface meeting approved a total of 43 local development plans (LDPs) including water schemes, hand pump boreholes, motorized boreholes, slaughter slabs and constructions of new class room blocks.

The program officer of WODASS, Mr. Musa Gindaus who facilitated the interface meeting, listed notable projects to be executed to include small town water schemes for each of the three villages and construction of three hand pump boreholes in each of the communities.


Also approved, according to Mr. Gindaus, are the construction of seven VIP latrines across the three villages as well as construction of household latrines by the aforementioned communities by June 2012.


In realization of the health hazards associated with the consumption of contaminated meat products, the meeting approved the immediate construction of a slaughter slab in each of the villages.


Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, the village head of Zumbul Alhaji Ya’u Umaru,

expressed concern over years of neglect and marginalization but pledged to partner with Dass local council to hasten the implementation of the approved LDPs.


In a message to the occasion, the interim chairman of Dass LGA Alhaji Mohammed Sadiq Alhassan, expressed regret over the neglect suffered by the hard to reach communities, saying pausity of funds had incapacitated the council from extending social amenities to inaccessible villages.


Alhaji Alhassan Sadiq however promised to involve the committees set up by the three communities in the implementation of the approved projects, urging councilors from the respective villages to closely monitor and supervise the attainment of these objectives.


Each village committee of five consists of the ward head, a councilor, a representative each for women, men and youth groups.