Inside Kaduna community where animals, residents drink from same stream | Dailytrust

Inside Kaduna community where animals, residents drink from same stream

Mrs Talatu Philemon is a nursing mother who wakes up before dawn to walk a distance of one hour in search of water for...

Scooping water from beneath a rock near the stream where people and animals use in Kukui, in Kagarko LGA of Kaduna State
Scooping water from beneath a rock near the stream where people and animals use in Kukui, in Kagarko LGA of Kaduna State

Mrs Talatu Philemon is a nursing mother who wakes up before dawn to walk a distance of one hour in search of water for domestic use, in Kukui community of Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State. 

In Kukui and surrounding communities, a stream which meanders through bushes and rocks provides succour for people and animals, and so Talatu, like many others besiege its length. Sometimes, the animals get there first, and Talatu says they will have to wait for them to drink, splash and often times defecate in the stream. 

“Most times, we wait for the water to settle if the cattle pass through it,” she said adding that “we and our animals drink from the same stream, the cattle rearers also use the stream with their cattle. Mostly, we worry that the animals defecate and urinate in the stream,” she said.

Accessing potable water poses a herculean task in many rural communities across Nigeria, as such communities where there are no boreholes and wells resort to streams and other unhygienic sources of water to meet their needs. The situation is more pronounced in slums and impoverished rural areas. 

In Kaduna State, the Kaduna State Water Cooperation (KADSWAG) is responsible for providing and supplying potable water in all parts of the state, but its tentacles do not reach the teeming residents of semi-urban and rural communities.

To arrest the situation, rural settlements are often served via a network of boreholes and mono-pump water schemes. Still, only a handful of communities in Kagarko LGA can boast of potable water, as many rely on streams or other unhygienic sources. 

In Kukui community, the headquarters of Kukui ward, in Kagarko, there are at least 16 boreholes spread within the community that are now faulty. With Kukui resting its hope on a single, unreliable mono-pump for its over 3,000 population, many residents of the community and other surrounding communities drink from the stream.

“Communities like Kosoh, Chigwa, Kubere, Kukok, Kusam, Iche Kasa, Iche Bisa and Kuchi, together with their animals have for years equally relied on the stream,” said Shedrack Michael, a resident of Kukui.

 

Moses James, another resident of the community, explained how his two children often miss school or arrive late because they have to trek the long distance to the stream to fetch water for the family. “Water is essential to life,” he said, adding that “while they use water from the stream for domestic purposes or boil it before drinking, they mostly rely on sachet water for drinking.

Caleb Sarki Bitrus, who is the son of the village head, said some of the surrounding villages have for years depended on the stream because they have no boreholes. The stream remains their only alternative, he said.

For nursing mothers like Talatu Philemon, they are constantly subjected to the hardship of trekking to fetch the water and then accosted with the torment of watching animals drink and defecate in the stream.

“It has not been easy for aged women and nursing mothers to be going through bushes looking for water to use at homes. We have suffered enough and we want the government to do something for us by repairing our boreholes and constructing modern ones to ease our suffering,” she said.

She said as a result of consuming contaminated water, even when boiled, many people especially children often contact water borne diseases and suffer from typhoid and other related diseases. “Apart from the animals, humans also use the stream to wash and defecate,” she said.

Shedrack Michael explained that while they advice boiling the water before consumption, not everyone heeds to such advise. “Honestly speaking, most of us here do not boil the water before using it. Some of our people even drink the water directly from the stream,” he said.

Asabe Sunday, a resident of Iche Bisa, a neighbouring community, lamented that it takes about three hours to get to the stream and back to her village, adding that often times, they meet a queue by the stream which they have to join. Most often, by 7am, Asabe is back home with her water before jumping into other domestic activities and cooking for her family.

“When the water is polluted,” she explained, they resort to using hoes to dig a hole around the stream to scoop “clean water” from the ground. “We know it is very risky but we don’t have any option than to drink it like that, if not, we won’t survive.” She said life as she knows it from birth has always been like this but confirmed that a borehole was once drilled in her community but stopped functioning after seven days.

But even after spending almost three hours by the stream side, a community elder, James Akaito, says sometimes, the women return with nothing or little quantity for the lucky ones.

The president of Kagarko Youth Progressive Forum (KYPF), Shedrack Michael, who hails from Kukui, said existing boreholes in the community were poorly drilled, thus, gulping a lot of money in an attempt to fix them. “We’ve engaged the local authority to no avail, that is why we want the state government to intervene with modern ones such as solar boreholes,” he said.  “We have just one that is currently functioning and it takes almost an hour before water drops. Majority of the populace drink from open streams which they share with cattle without boiling.”

Michael added that they have been battling with the issue of water scarcity for over 22 years. “Growing up as a child, I saw my parents suffer to get water and the suffering has continued. We call on constituted authority to come to our aid; our ward has a powerful voting capacity and it is unfair for us to be neglected.”

He continued: “Our women, including aged mothers, risk their lives to walk through the forests for hours just to get unclean water from the streams. It is the same water that herders give their cattle and other animals to drink, It’s unfair.”

The youth leader of Kukui, Mr. Nuhu Dogo, said the community has in the last eight years made several attempts to fix the boreholes but to no avail and the people have become tired. He said they’ve reached out to the Kukui Development Association, with the assurances that funds would soon be raised to fix the pumps in order to reduce the hardship of going to the stream. The youth leaders urged the state government to come to their aid by providing motorised boreholes. 

“Considering the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals, there is need for the government to intensify efforts in providing safe drinking water to all and sundry.”

Responding on the situation, the Chairman of Kagarko LGA, Nasara Rabo, said his council was aware of the problem which most communities in Kagarko are faced with. Rabo who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant, Godwin Shehu Magaji, said the council had approved 100 boreholes to be constructed across the 10 wards in the LGA, adding that each ward will have 10 boreholes.

“We have finished with Jere North and Jere South and some places and we are coming to Kukui and other wards very soon,” he said. He encouraged communities to develop the culture of owning and maintaining projects and not to depend on government to fix the projects.

“Presently, there is an ongoing project of building bridges and culvert in the area which will help them in many ways. Apart from this, the 100 boreholes project will soon come to the ward as we have finished with other wards,” he added.

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