The absence of clean water in some communities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other states across the country has left many Nigerians at the mercy of water vendors and streams full of contaminated water.
“Our major challenge in this community is water. We don’t have access to boreholes. The entire village depends on the stream for drinking, cooking and bathing,” said Chief John Akuchi, head of Madalla village, located after Apo, Abuja.
“When our children drink from the stream, they fall ill. The water is bad for consumption, but we don’t have a choice”, he added.
This reporter noticed human wastes in the streams and pond the residents depend on for water to cook, bathe and drink.
Samuel Audu, a resident of Madalla village recalled an incident that almost claimed his sister’s life.
“At about 9:00 p.m, that fateful evening, my sister started complaining of stomach ache. She was taken to the chemist and given Panadol but the pain persisted. I could tell it was serious because she was crying. The chemist advised us to take her to the hospital but since we didn’t have a health centre here, we had to wait to take her to Kubwa Primary Healthcare Centre in the morning,” he said.
She had to endure the pain through the night, and at the hospital, we were told it was typhoid and malaria.
“The doctor advised us to take clean water but we don’t have access to clean water,” he said.
Audu added “Last year, we lost many people. Many women died while giving birth. Those who are lucky to be alive, lost their babies during delivery.”
The health condition of residents in these communities is further worsened by poor sanitation practices and lack of a quality health care centre to treat ailments.
Another resident Mr. Emmanuel Adomoke, said ,“We practice open defecation in this community because we don’t have toilets. When it rains, the waste is washed into the stream that we drink from. Only a privileged few have access to toilets.
“And don’t forget our roads are nothing to write home about either. We find it difficult to get to town. Sometimes, before you get to the healthcare centre, the child dies.”
Kauna Ishayah, a mother of four in her mid-20s, another resident, said women of the village go through a lot of hardships in order to fetch water.
She said: “Despite all I do to prepare clean food for my family, my children still fall sick. Sometimes the four of them come down with illness, I have to spend the little money I have on drugs.
“Besides, there’s the burden of collecting water, since it is our responsibility to collect water for our homes, we spend hours collecting water. Sometimes it takes over three hours to get this task completed, my legs and waist ache seriously but I have to do it.”
The story is no different in Chorinbisa village, another community along Karshi-Abuja road in the FCT.
“Don’t be deceived by the tank and borehole you see here, there is not single drop of water in it,” said Yohana Bako, assistant village head of Chorinbisa village.
The boreholes, which are no longer functioning, were constructed in 2011 as a Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) project.
Daily Trust gathered that it only worked for a year and since then the residents of Chorinbisa have continued to rely on dirty ponds and streams for water.
Bako said, “Typhoid, dysentery, cholera, malaria and stomach ache are prevalent in this community because of the water we drink. The pond is dirty, polluted with animal waste.”
Bathing is a luxury for residents of Chironbisa, especially women, according to Christiana Yonana.
“We struggle to bathe once a day; some go for days without bathing. It is worse during the dry season when the streams are dry,” she said.
Additionally, Christiana said women suffer more during their monthlies.
A senior officer with the Federal Capital Territory Water Board, who craved anonymity, said the board does not have infrastructure in place to supply water to residents of Karshi and environs.
He said the responsibility of providing water infrastructure was not that of the board.
“We only supply water where there is infrastructure and we don’t have that in Karshi and its environs,” he told our reporter via phone.
Alhassan Z. Dakwoyi, Head, Department of Works, Abuja Municipal Area Council said: “Usuma dam was built to service the FCT, including all the satellite towns but, up till now, they are still working on the dam. There is ongoing effort to bring water from Gurara dam to augment the supply of water in the FCT.”
Deji Adebajo, a physician with Babcock University Teaching Hospital, Ogun State said water related diseases encompass illnesses resulting from both direct and indirect contact with contaminated water, whether by consumption or by skin exposure during bathing or recreational use.
“It causes cholera, typhoid, diarrhoea, salmonellosis amongst others,” he said.
He said: “There are insects that breed in dirty water which cause diseases such as malaria. Worms, like ring worm, guinea worm, taenia saginata (beef tapewarm) that can also cause serious illnesses.
“These diseases affect people adversely and cause serious health implications, loss of life and substandard health,” he said.
According to Adebajo, sources of these diseases can be stagnant water, wells, ponds, streams, and rivers, adding that, “treating water through boiling, disinfecting, sedimentation, addition of chemicals (chlorine), is an effective way of preventing water-borne disease.”
The management of these diseases, Adebajo said depend on the cause of the diseases.
“If caused by insects, clearing of gutters, cutting bushes and proper drainage is required. If caused by insects, then the use of insecticides will be more appropriate. If it has caused malaria anti-malarial drugs should be administered,” he said.
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