Bosede Ridwan operates a canteen along the school road, Oye-Ekiti neither has access to a borehole nor public water for her cooking business.
Like other food business owners, she fetches water from a well that is near her shop. During this rainy season, she also stores water in plastic kegs when it rains. Water scarcity in Oye Ekiti state has been a recurring situation for many years. The search for water is popularly heightened during the dry seasons. However, being in a rainy season where water is expected to be abundant, the residents of Oye-Ekiti are faced with a different dilemma. They solely rely on wells and rainwater for drinking, cooking and cleaning.
Expensive Sachet Water Affect Residents’ Income
A mother of four, Mary Agboola lives in a one-room apartment along Irona street said she spends N5,000 out of her N30,000 salary on buying sachet water every month, aside from what she spends on feeding, her income is barely enough to cater for her family’s needs.
“At least, I buy five bags of pure water every week. And this is because I don’t want my children to fall sick by cooking with dirty water.
“We also drink pure water. As for bathing and laundry, this well has been serving us in this street. But drinking from it may be dangerous because it is not covered,” she said.
A hand dug well that serves Mrs. Agboola and her neighbors
Also, Kunle Adebayo, a furniture maker who lives on Temidire street said his family buys sachet water every day at N250 per bag. Although there is nothing he could do about it, he said that he would prefer not to spend money on drinkable water.
However, unlike the two, Ruth Oluwasegun, a petty trader in her 40s said she cannot afford to buy sachet water.
“How much am I even making daily,” she questioned.
“It is God that has been protecting us. See, for many years, we have been using well water for everything we do in this house and nothing has happened to us,” she concluded.
Mrs. Ruth represents the majority of residents who, due to their low economic status, cannot be spending on sachet water without posing a threat to their income.
Poor Electricity is Contributing to Clean Water Scarcity
Aside from the majority of residents, there are house owners who have boreholes drilled in their compounds. But rather than increase access to clean water, the unstable power supply experienced in Oye-Ekiti has not made that happen.
According to Richard Emmanuel, a man who owns two houses with boreholes in Oye-Ekiti, pumping water with a power generator is expensive. This has therefore made him dig a well in one of his houses.“The truth is that I can’t be buying fuel for pumping all the time. Had there been constant electricity, things would be better,” he complained.
A well-covered with planks at Irona street, Oye-Ekiti
Motunrayo Aladeoye, a female tenant whose residence is at FUOYE Mini Campus area, spoke about a similar issue.
“Every month, we pay nothing less than N4,000 for electricity and still, we don’t always have light to pump water. Instead of contributing another money for fuel, other tenants prefer to fetch rain water or use any well in the street. For drinking and cooking, we can easily buy pure water,” she explained.
Abandoned government facilities litter the streets
At Temidire street, a few houses away from Jaye Mercy, a popular hotel in Oye-Ekiti, there lies a water facility that had long stopped functioning.
Abandoned Water Facility at Temidire street
“Back in 2020, when they constructed this water for us, we were very happy. And sincerely, it served us for many months and we thought that our problem was over,” Adeoti Deborah, a woman whose house is close to the facility, revealed.
“But gradually, the solar thing just began to work slowly. If you come here early in the morning, you’ll see many people in the queue with plenty of buckets and kegs. Early in January 2021, it finally stopped pumping,” she said.
Asked if there was any attempt to fix the problem, she said there has not been an attempt ever since.
There is another facility along Irona street. This and others are supposed to be serving the residents of that vicinity. However, they have been abandoned, completely.
“I’ve been living in this street for six years and I met it here,” Mrs. Agboola said.
Abandoned Irona water facility
Unsafe water causes diseases
According to Unicef, “safe water means having water at home, whenever needed, and free from contamination.” Meanwhile, poor sanitation and contaminated water have been linked to the spread of diseases like cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio.
As discovered by the World Health Organization (WHO) “absent, inadequate, or inappropriately managed water and sanitation services expose individuals to preventable health risks.” Every year, it was also estimated that about 829,000 people die from unsafe drinking water, sanitation and hand hygiene.
In a report, WHO described Diarrhoea as “the most widely known disease linked to contaminated food and water but there are other hazards. In 2017, over 220 million people required preventive treatment for schistosomiasis – an acute and chronic disease caused by parasitic worms contracted through exposure to infected water.”
More disturbing is the news that Cholera has started making an “unwelcome comeback”. According to the Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “27 countries have reported outbreaks since the start of this year, including Syria, which has reported more than 10,000 suspected cases in the past six weeks alone, and Haiti, which was on the cusp of being declared cholera-free.”
Ekiti Government Making Efforts
During a recent validation workshop for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Investment in Nigeria held at Ado Ekiti, Daniel Akintunde-Alo the Coordinator of Water Sanitation and Hygiene Project (WASH) in Geomatics Nigeria, appealed to the state government to improve the budgetary “for serious rural water supply and hygiene promotion.”
Noting that there are many hand dug wells and boreholes located in rural communities that have stopped functioning, he, therefore, solicited more staffing, professional training and funding from the Ekiti State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), to ensure improved rural water supply in the state.
In a submission made available to ThisDay newspaper, the General Manager, of Ekiti State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), Ayo Alegbeleye, revealed that the state, in partnership with donor agencies and the federal government, had put in over N1 billion to fund rural water supply in 2022.
In other news, the state government has completely rehabilitated Egbe Dam to increase access to clean water in two local government areas of the state. Being the beneficiaries, Ayekire Local Government Area and Gbonyin Local Council Development Area are projected to experience an easier life in the coming years.
An effort to speak with Mr. Alegbeleye proved abortive as his phone number was switched off at the time of this report.
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