Far Away from Millennium Goal

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Greater Makurdi water works
Greater Makurdi water works

Inspite of the huge allocations provided by the federal and state governments in their annual budgets, potable water has remained a scarce commodity in many parts of the country

|  By Augustine Adah  |  Jan. 28, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

DESPITE the huge allocations for the provision of water by state governors in their yearly budget appropriation, many Nigerians living in cities and villages lack access to potable water. In Kogi State, for instance, the administration of Ibrahim Idris, former governor of the state, allocated the sum of N3.1billion to the ministry of water resources in 2011 budget. That did not improve water supply in the state. Instead, the activities of water vendors continued to thrive in major towns in the state. In the rural areas, the condition is more pathetic as many of them have only access to polluted streams and rain water.

Even the N10 billion Lokoja water scheme commissioned in 2010 by Idris could not alleviate the suffering of the people as many of the residents of Lokoja, are still wandering from place to place in search of potable water. The water project was executed to supply potable water to residents of Lokoja and its environs such as Kabba junction, Gadumo and Ganaja. Ladi Musa, a food vendor along Okene-Kabba road, said she spends an average of N200 every day to buy water from vendors. “I am yet to feel the impact of the water project commissioned by the former governor because no tap runs here,” Musa said.

It is not only in Kogi State that the government budgetary provision has failed to provide  potable water for the people.  In Anambra State, the Peter Obi administration allocated the sum of N3.5bilion in 2011 budget for water project in the state. The project was intended to rehabilitate some dilapidated water plants which would enable residents of Awka, the state capital and other major cities in the state, to enjoy regular supply of water. At the moment, the rehabilitated water projects could only supply water to few areas in Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha. Linus Ijeoma, a resident of Onitsha, who had lived in Nnewi for many years, said that the water board, an agency that is responsible for the provision and distribution of water in the state, was only able to supply water to some restricted areas in Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha. “Only few places especially hospitals and schools enjoy water supply in Nnewi,” Ijeoma said.

Peter Obi
Peter Obi

Similar water projects executed by the Benue State government has failed to meet the water needs of the people. Residents of Makurdi, the capital of Benue State, are apprehensive over the non- availability of water many months after Gabriel Suswan, governor of the state, invited President Goodluck Jonathan to commission the Makurdi Water Works. Tivlumun Manger, a Makurdi resident, describes the water situation in the town as pathetic. “Several months after the commissioning of the project, residents of Makurdi, still buy water from vendors known as maruwa who sell in jerrycans,” Manger said.

It was gathered that the inability of the state government to distribute water to some parts of Makurdi metropolis from the water plant was caused by damaged pipes. At the moment, only those living very close to the works can go there to fetch water directly. This development has given an opportunity to water vendors to make brisk business.

The situation in other parts of the federation is not different. For instance, the indiscriminate drilling of boreholes in Lagos State is giving the government serious concern. Consequently, the government has warned that anybody drilling borehole without its approval would be prosecuted. The new policy was aimed at mitigating the long effects of such drilling to the environment.  Majority of people in Lagos depend on water from wells and boreholes despite hopes raised by the commissioning of some water projects built in some areas of the state.

Presently, the federal government and some state governments are partnering to execute about 111 water projects in the country. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, governor of Rivers State, and chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, disclosed recently that the projects worth N191.7 billion were at various stages of completion. Obadiah Ando, former minister of water resources, confirmed the existence of such projects when he visited Benue State in 2010. Ando, who admitted that the challenge of providing water for the country was enormous because of the huge amount involved, urged the private sector to complement governments’ efforts in the provision of water.

While it is possible to globally achieve the Millennium Development Goal, MDG, on safe drinking water before 2015, Nigeria may be far from achieving the goal because of the difficulty in accessing potable water. UNICEF’s report  in 2012 indicated that about 1,500 Nigerians die of cholera every year. This is an indication that many people in the country don’t have access to potable water.

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