Mina Ogbanga: Nigeria is 53 but the taps are still dry (Y! FrontPage)

by Mina Ogbanga

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It is sad that what many developed countries take for granted, provide with all due urgency and maintain with equal precision, is totally absent in many African Countries with Nigeria topping the list.

In a recent article I read, it was highlighted that the Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi envisions a state with 80 per cent water supply by the end of 2013. This triggered off a thread of discourse with colleagues. While some said it will never happen – at least not in the next decade, others saw a possibility considering Fayemi’s determination to succeed. How far this can be actualized indeed? Only time will tell.

I always feel a surge of emotion when I think through the lack of a basic essential necessity such as clean water. I never cease to ask if, indeed, we have someone in charge of the water sector, and if we do, what exactly has been happening?

Many states in the country still have a problem of pipe borne water. It was actually surprising to note that over 90 per cent of feedbacks received from respondents in these states many say they only realised they could have a central water system only when they saw the questions sent them. This is because they have become so used to the absence of a central water system provided by government.

It is sad that what many developed countries take for granted, provide with all due urgency and maintain with equal precision, is totally absent in many African Countries with Nigeria topping the list. While some states are trying to collaborate with several partners to bridge the gap of ‘setting up a structure’ not necessarily providing the water yet, others are wallowing in the pain of addressing diseases caused by continuous intake of polluted water.

At 53, how successful can we say we have been in achieving a critical Millenium Development Goal (under Environment)? In a recent Zunia Report, it stated that “since the tsunami of December 2004 claimed more than a quarter-million lives and caused billions of dollars of damage, excess of water has created other natural disasters, at the same time, millions of people live without access to adequate or clean water, with little hope their situation will improve as the global water-shortage crisis escalates. Droughts caused devastating living conditions in Niger in 2005 and in parts of eight countries in eastern Africa in early 2006, affecting over 13 million people. Although the poor – both rural and urban – are typically the most vulnerable.

“According to the United Nations Water Development Report of March 2006, the combination of lower precipitation and higher evaporation in many regions is diminishing water quantities in rivers, lakes and groundwater. In addition, increased pollution is damaging ecosystems and the health, lives and livelihoods of those without access to adequate, safe drinking water and basic sanitation.”

My diversion into the above statistics was to place a deliberate reference on the fact that many nations facing water issues are basically due to one crises or the other, a strikingly different scenario from Nigeria’s where the problems of water appears more political or managerial.

I won’t stress much at this time on the painful scenario in the Niger Delta where as they say “water water everywhere but none available to drink.” The case in the Delta is a combination of all basic factors making it somewhat tough to believe that clean water access for all in that region was going to take a long time coming.

The site of various ethnic groups moving carts with jerry cans and buckets and so on have become a near and daily common site. Many have become socio-preneurs selling water from the most ridiculous strategies to the healthier versions. Cities are seen “beaitified” with pure water satchets. Many have made their desired millions through the water business and others completely detached from the reality of clean water. Water and Sanitation,going hand in hand and yet contradicting In provision is the norm… I can go on and on.

So, what is the solution? What are the possible next steps? What are the
plans of our minister for water resources towards restoring a credible access to
piped borne water? Perhaps there must be a water plan we haven’t seen, can these be shared? Will Nigeria’s Leadership and State Leaderships,as part of celebrating our 53rd year independence, at least make one dream of provision of quality access to clean water come true? Or like many things, will this also remain politicised? How more dependent can we be on ourselves in ensuring we provide clean water for ourselves and our families? How can this gravely neglected sector get the much needed nudge!? I rest my case.

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Mina Ogbanga is an ardent development activist with a strong passion for sustainable development in rural communities, institutional building and social performance.

A social entrepreneur par excellence, Mina has had over 20 years of development experience. A Post Graduate Alumni of Cambridge University UK, United Nations Training Institute, Alumni of Harvard Kennedy School Boston, US, LBS etc and a Doctoral Researcher in Nigeria,

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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