– Abdulrasheed Hammad
An old man in the Weru community in Moro Local Government in Kwara State was looking stressed when he was sighted struggling to tie the three jerricans of the water he fetched from the dirty Weru stream (the stream where the whole community are fetching from) at the the back of his motorcycle.
He was busy tieing the jerricans on the motorcycle when the two loggers coming from the Moro forest who were looking so dirty were rinsing their legs and cleaning their faces with water inside the dirty stream in the community.
“Why are you rinsing your legs and bodies inside the stream? This is the water the whole community is drinking for survival and we don’t have any water apart from this. You can see I even took a motorcycle to fetch water from this stream,” he protested.
He added that the second stream which is opposite the stream where the two loggers were rinsing their bodies inside it was where the residents of Weru left for cattle rearers and hunters for their dogs and cattle to drink from.
“It is so sad that some people used to bring the cattle to drink water in this stream and the hunter used to bring their dogs to also sip from this same stream but we are just trying to deter people from rinsing inside it if we are there, but if we are not here, there is nothing we can do,” he lamented.
In July 2021, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reported 526 deaths from cholera while there are 22,130 suspected cases in 2021 alone. The primary cause of cholera is the ingestion of contaminated food and water, majorly fuelled by the lack of water and sanitation hygiene (WASH) infrastructures. WaterAid says 60 million people in Nigeria lack access to clean water. That is one in every three people.
Water Scarcity in Nigeria
In Nigeria, according to UNICEF, contaminated water leads to diseases such as diarrhea, which annually kills more than 70,000 children below the age of five. Over 45,000 children under five die annually from diseases caused by poor access to water, sanitation, and hygiene, according to WHO data. From major research and findings, it is understood that most children who suffered the mortality lived in rural areas, as development failed to reach the families, especially children in these areas.
UNICEF WASH specialist, Martha Hokonya, called for more investment in water supply, noting that the availability of safe drinking water contributes to increased health status. UNICEF Communications Specialist in Nigeria, Geoffrey Njoku, pointed out that water is critical to children and human survival and therefore, must be accorded priority.
More Communities In Kwara Drink Water from Dirty Stream
However, the drinking from dirty streams is not prevailing only in the Weru community in Kwara state but the residents of Eka Kuso in the Kpada District of the Patigi Local Government Area of Kwara State are also fetching and drinking water from dirty streams. A video obtained by SaharaReporters through Elites Network for Sustainable Development (ENetSuD) shows the various areas where residents fetch water are dirty, bushy, and mashy.
“We suffer a lot when it comes to getting water, especially during harmattan. We don’t usually feel okay during that time, right from the morning, around six o’clock, they will fetch water and wait till like ten o’clock so it can settle down,” a villager was heard saying.
At Onire community in Kwara state, another community in Kwara state, the residents are also fetching from the dirty stream for survival. It is common to see women and children trekking the 10 minutes distance to fetch from a stream, the only water source in the vicinity. A report from Dataphyte disclosed that Salamatu Aremu who is a resident of this community took her three-year-old daughter to Primary Health Centre in Alapa and the doctor confirmed that her daughter is suffering from cholera as a result of contaminated water.
“The nurse said my daughter’s sickness resulted from the continued drinking of contaminated water. After spending all my savings and selling some of my valuables to treat her, I was forced to borrow an additional N10,000 from friends or risk losing my daughter to Cholera.”
The same thing with Maryam who explained that she and her children had been frequent visitors to the hospital due to the stream water they had been drinking.
“Sometimes in 2020, during the pandemic, one of my children had abdominal pain and a dry cough. When we got to the hospital, the doctors said he had Typhoid Fever, and we were warned to stop drinking the stream water. “But can we stop fetching from the stream when we have no other water source here?” The 32-year-old woman asked rhetorically.