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Abuja villagers thirsty for water

“We will drink this water like that,” said Japhet Markus, a member of the community, who teaches in a local primary school, about the dark…

“We will drink this water like that,” said Japhet Markus, a member of the community, who teaches in a local primary school, about the dark water seeping out from the hole dug by the man with the hoe.
“Our stomach has developed a sort of machine that kills the germs in the water. If this place were stony, we would not get a place to dig for water now,” he said.
About a kilometre ahead, some women were at work at a couple of shallow wells scooping water. The water being fetched was not clean. But it was cleaner than what was seeping out of the newly dug holes.  
One of the women drank from the water just fetched from the hole without hesitation or any emotion. Her face was blank.  Japhet repeated the assurance that the water didn’t affect them as their bodies had adapted to it.
The women, assisted by their female children, took turns to fetch the water that they could only scoop as it leaks slowly out of the ground.
“The borehole only dispenses water once in eight days,” said Comfort Suma, a mother of two, breathing heavily. “I am only able to fetch this basin once before the tap goes dry. Then I will go back to the dry stream,” she added after pouring the water she had just fetched into a basin.
Sweating all over, Comfort smiled when asked for how long she had been drinking the water from the stream. She said she had been drinking from the stream since she was born.
“We cook with it. We drink it. We wash with it. It is also what we give to the children,” she said.
But she has this to say to those in authority: “ If we will have access to the people in authority, we will ask them to bring water for us. We are suffering, we need water.”
After the interview, she picked her basin and the small aluminum bowl she used in scooping water from the ground and made for the stream again. By the time she got there, water that had gathered in the newly dug hole had gone down. She scooped it and waited for it to seep out some more till she filled the basin and headed home again.
Like Gawu, like Daka
In Daka village of Kwali Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, the story is not different.  Women wait at the village’s only hand pump to fetch water. The only alternative for those who can’t wait is a shallow well of muddy water in a small forest away from the village.
Amina Sarki was at the well fetching water. She said she had to make do with the water from the well because she couldn’t wait for the slow queue at the hand pump.
She said she doesn’t treat the water before consumption. All she does is allow the dirt to settle down, before scooping from the cleaner top part. She knows it is not completely free of germs, but there is nothing she can do about it.  She has to do with what she has.
 She helped some children, who are too young to enter the well and fetch water. The children went into the village in single file carrying containers of various sizes spilling muddy water.
Several other villagers corroborated her story. They said the water from the well is still their last resort when they can’t get water from the hand pump.
Effort to get what the Federal Capital Territory’s Water Board is doing to get water to the villagers failed as the head of the board’s rural water supply department was said to be away on the two occasions this reporter went to the board’s office.
But both the Kuje and Kwali council authorities had in separate interviews with Aso Chronicle promised to procure drilling machines that would enable the council drill boreholes across the villages in the councils.
Meanwhile, the digging for water on dry streams continues for the Abuja villagers with hope that someday the government will get potable drinking water to them and end the current toil, moil and exposure to health risks by villagers.

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