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Despite gulping billions, water scarcity worsens in states

Acute water shortage has hit many states across the country. Apart from subjecting residents of the affected states to hardship, many now drink from any…

Acute water shortage has hit many states across the country. Apart from subjecting residents of the affected states to hardship, many now drink from any available source, including streams and boreholes, findings by Daily Trust Saturday have shown.

Stakeholders in the water sector are blaming state governments, which they claim are responsible for providing potable water in their respective states for the present situation.

 Some of the stakeholders specifically blamed state governments for failing to invest in the water sector despite the billions of naira budgeted for various ministries of water resources annually.

But the general manager of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Water Board, Dame Patience Okoro said maintaining and expanding water plants required a lot of money.

She agreed that the capacity of most of the water plants could no longer meet the requirement of the growing population, but said that because of the much funds needed for the expansion of the plants, all hands must be on deck by the relevant stakeholders.

Between 2021 and 2022, for instance, the Kano State Government budgeted over N12billion for the water ministry.

In this year’s budget, Anambra State budgeted N2.1b for the water ministry while between 2020 and 2021, the Borno State Government budgeted about N18b for the sector.

The Plateau State Government, in 2022, budgeted about N3b for water, sanitation and energy, while the Kaduna State Government also budgeted N4.7b for the water sector this year.

Between 2019 and 2021, the Ondo State Government budgeted over N2b for the water sector. In 2017, the Katsina State Government reportedly spent about N17b on the water sector.

Even though it was difficult to get records of the actual amounts released by various state governments,  many experts in the sector, including the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman H. Adamu, said many water treatment and distribution plants in the states had either not been properly maintained or expanded to meet the growing population.

Mathew Ijaya, an engineer, said the present water situation in the country would continue as long as governments, especially at the states level, fail to expand existing water treatment plants to meet the growing population.  

Residents struggle to get water in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital

 

Situation in states 

Our correspondents across the states report that despite repeated claims of giving priority to the water sector by the powers that be in states, the perennial water shortage often experienced during the dry season has persisted.  

In the FCT, the situation is getting out of hand in area councils as residents in villages now compete with animals to drink from ponds and streams. The situation is compounded in the satellite towns by power outage.

Findings by Daily Trust Saturday show that epileptic power supply in the metropolis has made it difficult for some households that have private boreholes to pump water for domestic use.

In Abaji Area Council, for instance, the worst hit are residents of Abattoir (old and new extension), Anguwar Manko, Anguwar Kekeshi, Sabon Tasha, Anguwar Wadataa and Abaji low-cost housing.

Our reporter who went round some of the areas where water pipes are reticulated within the metropolis observed that the taps are dry.

The general manager of the FCT Water Board, Dame Okoro, had announced that the board generated N2.4 billion last year, yet many communities, not even the hosts of its treatment plant have access to potable water.

Reports from Minna, the Niger State capital indicate that water scarcity is biting hard as residents now struggle to get water from any available source.

Areas worst hit are Ijaye, Kuto, Dutsen-Kura Hausa, London Street, Bosso, and Maitumbi, all in Minna, the state capital, as residents trek many kilometres to get water for domestic use.

Muhammed Al-Amin of Dutsen-Kura Gwari said he spends between N600 and  N700 on a daily basis to buy 10 jerry cans of water.

In Kano State, residents of the Kano metropolis have been lamenting over the scarcity of water in the city as hot weather sets in.

Recently, the price of a 25-litre jerry-can of water in the city increased by over 100 per cent.

Daily Trust Saturday observed that the majority of Kano residents now rely on vendors to get drinking water and for other domestic use as there is no adequate supply of pipe-borne water in the city.

This is coming even as the state government had been budgeting billions of naira for the Ministry of Water Resources. Our correspondent in the state reports that in 2021, the ministry got over N3.8b to boost water production.

Similarly, in 2022, the ministry was allocated the sum of N9.3b. This allocation, residents said, had no impact on water supply in the state, as areas like Kano Municipal, Yakasai, Fagge, Kurna, Brigade, Hotoro and some other parts mostly rely on water vendors.

A resident of Hotoro, Abdullahi Adamu, said that for more than 20 years, he had not seen tap water running in the area; and recently, the price of water from vendors doubled.

“The 25 litres we used to buy at N20 is now N40, and it is difficult to get. Last week, I bought it at N70,” he said.

In Benue State, residents are worried over the lack of water for domestic use as the dry season continues.

Maria Adeka, a resident of Makurdi, said her borehole dried up in January after the dry season fully set in.

“Since then, we rely on vendors for our water needs. I buy a cart of 10 jerry-cans of 20 litres each at N400 or N500.

Our correspondent reports that this is happening despite the fact that the state government budgets billions of naira for the water sector.

The state water board recently raised the alarm that residents were not paying for the water they get. It said a lot of money was required to treat, maintain and expand the water plant in the state.

In the Kaduna metropolis, residents are also battling water shortage, which makes life difficult for them, especially within the city despite having boreholes around.

Residents in areas like Karshen Kwalta, Rigasa community of Igabi Local Government Area are lamenting over the lack of tap water in the community for years.

Our correspondent reports that many areas do not have potable water and residents have to drink from any available source. And this is despite the huge amount of money being allocated to the water sector on an annual basis.

Halima Mu’azu, a resident of Hayin Malam Bello New Estate, said the lack of stable electricity was responsible for the problem of water in the community.

A water expert and state coordinator of the Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN), Kaduna State branch, The Reverend Kuzasuwat Ishaya Peter, said 65 per cent of communities in the city were dry zones.

He said dry zones were communities that used to have water years back but are now suffering its lack. He listed some of these areas to include Kawo, Rigasa,

Unguwar Rimi, Unguwar Romi and Sabon Tasha.

Furthermore, the water situation in Awka, Anambra State capital, is nothing to write home about.

Our correspondent in the state reports that every water supply in the state as at today is by private individuals who constructed boreholes in their compounds.

There is no public water supply in the state and no trace of public water corporation.  

A resident, Okey Paul, said public water stopped functioning in the state during the time of Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju in 2000.

He said the most terrifying thing is that the state capital does not have public water; so people can only make use of private water in their compounds.

Our correspondent also reports that the state kept on budgeting billions of naira for the ministry of water resources. This year alone, the state budgeted N2.1b for the water sector, yet there is no water for public consumption.

In Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, residents are facing serious water challenges as they depend on boreholes and vendors for water. 

Residents said the public water supply was functional until during the administration of the former Governor Seriake Dickson when major road construction damaged the pipes and was not repaired to date. 

Daily Trust Saturday learns that even water from boreholes is not good for drinking as it contains iron and rust due to oil exploration activities, while the stream sources are also contaminated, a situation that made most residents drink bottled water. 

A resident of Yenagoa, Mr Effiong Oscar, told our correspondent that they were suffering due to a lack of potable water. 

At the state secretariat and other government offices, vendors were seen with their trucks supplying water to some offices. 

It was gathered that most of the offices in the secretariat are not connected to central boreholes; hence the idea of buying water from vendors. 

In Ogun State, residents are groaning under biting water scarcity. Our correspondent reports that the perennial water scarcity usually experienced by residents of Abeokuta metropolis and other parts of the state during the dry season has been compounded by fuel scarcity and power crisis.

The majority of those living in the state capital are currently faced with a lack of access to potable water.

Due to the rocky nature of the metropolis, digging wells or boreholes is almost impossible, thereby subjecting the people to untoward hardship, especially during dry seasons.

Daily Trust Saturday reports that 2,000 litres of water, which usually cost between N2, 500 and N3, 000, now goes for N4,000 in the state capital.

Also, a 25-litre keg, which was sold at N50, now costs between N70 and N80 in Abeokuta.

In Lagos, the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria with an estimated population of over 20million people, water scarcity has continued to bite hard on residents.

As early as 5:30 am, residents of some communities would come out with buckets and jerry-cans looking for water. This trend was observed by our correspondent in parts of Ikeja, the state capital.

For many house owners and tenants, the option has always been the borehole they built personally while those who cannot afford to build one have to contend with buying water from vendors.

An investigation by our correspondent revealed that the move to ensure that a greater population of the state enjoys pipe-borne water has been elusive over the years amidst the delay in the completion of the popular Adiyan waterworks, which the governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu inherited in 2019. He had vowed to complete the project.

As many Lagosians await the completion of the waterworks, getting a potable water supply has been hectic for many residents.

It was also learnt that the cost of buying six 25-litre jerry cans of water has been increased in recent times from N200 to N300 following the high cost of diesel.

The Lagos State Government, through its water corporation, attributed the present disruption of water supply to some parts of the state to the current national power systems collapse.

Kogi State is blessed with the confluence of two great rivers – Niger and Benue – at Lokoja, the capital of the state, yet residents groan over the scarcity of potable water.

It was learnt that the scarcity of potable water in Lokoja is a recurring decimal, and there seems to be no end in sight.

The state capital has been without potable water for about two months due to a lack of maintenance at the major water supply plant in the city, the Greater Lokoja Waterworks.

Majority of residents now depend on water vendors, popularly called ‘mai ruwa’, nearby boreholes and raw, hard river Niger water for their daily needs.

The Lokoja experience is a reflection of the situation in most parts of the state.

The state government said it was working hard to address the situation on a permanent basis.

Water vendors queue for water in Kano

 

Hold your governors responsible – FG

The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, an engineer, has blamed the perennial scarcity of water on the refusal of states to plan for their growing population.

Adamu, who disclosed this in response to the present acute water scarcity across states, said it was worrisome that many states expected the federal government to take over the operation and maintenance of their water schemes.

According to him, it is not the duty of the federal government to take over these schemes, but to incentivise the states by making bulk water available in dams nationwide.

“The reason we have been having this challenge of poor water supply is that there has not been proper planning by state governments. Their water schemes and interventions should always be ahead of the population growth.

“That is the only way they can have an adequate water supply. Even the issue of wear and tear, lack of proper operation and maintenance will see minimum operational capacity.

“Even if they are operating at proper capacity, that capacity is even half of the current population, that is why we keep advocating that states put all the incentives to use,’’ he said.

Adamu said the ministry was not mandated to run water supply schemes, treat water and reticulate them.

Expert suggests the way out

 Kadir Imam, an engineer, told one of our correspondents on the phone that the state government must invest heavily in the water sector, especially in treatment plants.

He said most of the plants in the states were built several years ago with a certain storage capacity, which can no longer meet the needs of the growing population.

In Lagos for instance, he cited the Iju waterworks, which was built in 1908 when the population of the state was less than 100,000. He said it was quite impossible for the same waterworks to cater for the present needs of the over 20million Lagosians.

He also called on the federal government to continue to provide assistance and monitor the state government in water provision.

He advised state governments to set a target of 10 years and start investing heavily in the water sector during the period.

“The state government can also invite the private sector in this regard because all our water plants need to be expanded and new ones built,” he said.

A medical practitioner, Dr Ismail Yusuf said poor water supply has a negative impact on health because it causes acute infections like diarrhoea and nondiarrhoeal disease.

“Governments at all levels should invest heavily in the water sector because it would have a multiplier effect on other sectors. A healthy population is a productive population.

“I want to assure you that if people consume clean water, the chances of them falling sick is slim,” he said. 

 

Additional reports by Abubakar Sadiq Isah, Dalhatu Liman (Abuja), Abubakar Akote (Minna), Zahraddeen Yakubu Shuaibu (Kano), Mumini AbdulKareem (Ilorin), Peter Moses (Abeokuta), Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos), Mohammed I. Yaba (Kaduna), Bassey Willie (Yenagoa), Titus Eleweke (Awka), Hope Abah Emmanuel, (Makurdi) & Tijani Labaran (Lokoja)