Concerned by the lack of potable water in some communities within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, residents and stakeholders have called on the government at all levels and relevant authorities to intervene urgently.
The outcry is coming on the heels of a recent investigation by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), which exposed that residents of Ike Bassa and Ike Ninzo in Kwali Area Council; and the Zokutu community in Kuje Area Council are drinking contaminated water from shallow-dug holes and caves.
A resident of Ike Ninzo community, Mohammed Aliyu, laid bare the community’s plight during an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, Wednesday in Abuja.
During the programme, Chief Executive Officer at Washmata Initiative, Dr. Boluwaji Onabolu, called on relevant authorities to urgently wade into the water emergency in the affected FCT communities to avoid the health consequences of people using contaminated water.
Onabolu, who noted that the government has a statutory responsibility to provide safe water, called on the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to develop a vulnerability risk assessment as part of the strategy used by state governments and the area councils in providing water to citizens.
She stressed the need for more motorized boreholes to be provided in FCT communities groaning under lack of access to potable water and tasked the FCT Rural Water Supply & Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) with adopting a systemic approach to ensuring the most vulnerable communities are reached.
“FCT RUWASSA needs to use a systematic approach called a vulnerability risk assessment to do a rapid assessment and know the most vulnerable, leave no one behind and prioritize those people.
Onabolu harped on the sustainability of motorized boreholes and stated, “In several communities in Abuja, motorized boreholes have been provided, but for some reason, these boreholes have broken down.
“So every institution that provides water should not provide water without leaving tools and training behind to ensure that the communities can also operate and maintain this water,” She advised.
Earlier, Mohammed Aliyu described the water situation in his community as “very pathetic,” revealing that the whole community gets their water from just one pond, which animals also share.
He stated that there is no government presence in the community as not even a single motorized borehole was provided in the community over the years. He called on government and non-governmental organizations to speedily come to their rescue.
“Ike community faces a serious problem because we don’t have potable drinking water. The members of the community drink from a river, and it is the same place where animals drink water from.
“In most cases, the water is always contaminated. You should imagine the situation of animals going there to drink at any time. So, people fall sick in this community because of the lack of this potable drinking water.”
Aliyu disclosed that several efforts by residents of Ike Ninzo to have Kwali Area Council and their representative at the National Assembly intervene in getting them boreholes over the years had been fruitless.
“We are pleading with not only the government, even non-governmental organizations that can come to our aid, but we will also highly welcome them,” He stated.
A journalist with ICIR, Ijeoma Opara, who conducted the investigation, revealed that poverty and unavailability of water in the communities made the residents of Ike Bassa and Zokutu source their water from caves and unhealthy ponds.
According to Opara, the investigation further exposed the government’s inability to provide potable water. Hence the residents had to resort to crude and unhealthy means of getting water by digging shallow holes.
She called on residents of the communities in FCT lacking access to potable water to be relentless in demanding that their basic needs and rights be provided by their leaders and representatives.
“Residents need to connect with their representatives at various levels of government. They need to demand; they need to push further for these basic rights. It will be detrimental to these residents to despair at this point,” Opara warned.
Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program used by PRIMORG to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.
The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.