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Kwara out to end ordeal of rural women in sourcing potable water

The importance of drink- able water to human ex- istence cannot be overem- phasised. Water, according to C. V. Raman is the elixir of life, the most wonderful and powerful thing on the earth. Globally, there- fore, water is essential to survival because every cell in the human body, according to research, is said to be made up of between 70 and 80 per cent water.

“Around 60 per cent of our body is made up of water and we can only live between three to five days without fluids. Water plays many important roles in the body, including flushing waste from the body, regulating body temperature, transportation of nutrients, and it is also necessary for digestion.

“Drinking water regularly can lead to better immune function, better cognitive and mental capac- ity, better memory, more energy and better digestion,” according to research findings. Intriguingly, lack of access to clean water has remained a global phenomenon.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO): “About two billion people, or one in every four persons, lack access to safety-managed water for drinking and other domestic uses,” adding that the situation is worse in rural communities where the number, according to UNICEF 2021 report, is about eight in every 10 people. WASH Lamentably, Nigeria is ranked low in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) as only nine per cent of the population is said to have access to complete basic WASH services, while those living in rural areas are reportedly more disadvantaged than those in urban areas, according to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Incidentally, it is the women who bear the brunt of lack of access to potable water, particularly women in the rural communities where the problem is more pronounced and aggravated.

Prior to the advent of the current administration of Governor Abdul- Rahman AbdulRazaq in 2019, access to potable water in Kwara State, particularly in the rural communities, was at the lowest ebb In rural communities, streams and shallow wells take the larger percentage because of their proximity and affordability.

Aside from largely being unhygienic, these sources of water dry up during the dry season, compounding the water problems of the people in the rural areas. For instance, in September 2021, the people of Dagbalodo communi- ty in the Patigi Local Government Area of the state were reported to be facing acute water challenges to the extent of the people using their hands to excavate the soil in search of water.

It was, however, a thing of joy that the administration of Governor AbdulRazaq, on hearing about the unsavoury development, swiftly ordered a team of officials from the Ministry of Water Resources to visit the community to assess the situation with a view to promptly rectifying the situation.

These culminated in the immediate sinking of boreholes for the distressed people of the Dagbalodo community. There was jubilation galore among the people of the community following this prompt intervention by the state government. Boreholes The AbdulRazaq administration had also sunk no fewer than 500 boreholes between June 2019 and July 2021 across the three senatorial districts of the state, thereby greatly relieving the people, especially the rural populace.

To further ease the state’s water problem, the AbdulRazaq adminis- tration also entered into partner- ship with the Federal Government to boost rural access to sanitation facilities, including potable water, in frontline local government areas such as Asa, Moro, Patigi, Ilorin East, among others.

The choice of these areas, according to the government, was as a result of the acute water scarcity in those places as revealed in the situation reports. While reacting to the report of acute water shortage in Dagbalodo community, the then Commissioner for Water Resources, Alhaji Femi Agbaje, said: “This administration is not sleeping on the report it did on water shortage in the state; neither is it proud of this pre-existing precarious situation, such as the one at Dagbalodo community. Officials of the state government have been directed by Governor AbdulRazaq to immediately visit the village to assess the situation so that the government could promptly rectify the situation because the administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq is accountable for the wellbeing of the people.

Video “The government has seen a video of some community folks digging up the soil in search of water in Dagbalodo village of Patigi Local Government Area of the state. This video is another spur for our ad- ministration to ramp up existing efforts and partnerships to bridge the inherited infrastructural gaps in not just the water sector but in virtually every area of basic human needs across the state.

“Specifically on water, the administration’s recent needs assessment report has revealed acute shortage of water supply in a few local government areas such as Asa, Patigi (where Dagbalodo community is situated), Moro, and others. “Despite the yearly budgetary allocations of billions of naira purportedly allocated to the sector pre-2019, this administration inherited no functional waterworks in the state while all the staff of the water corporation was on strike for non-payment of salaries. That sums up the pitiable situation in the water sector.

“This administration is, how- ever, not sleeping on the report it did on water shortage; neither is it proud of this pre-existing precari- ous situation, such as the one at Dagbalodo community. “So far, as part of its stop-gap measures to address water scarcity pending when sustainable water sources would be available state- wide, the administration has dug some 500 boreholes between June 2019 and July 2021. These cut across the three senatorial districts. “Similarly, Kwara has entered into a partnership with the Federal Government to boost rural access to sanitation facilities, including potable water, in frontline local government areas such as Asa, Moro, Patigi, Ilorin East, among others. The choice of these areas is as a re- sult of the acute water scarcity revealed in recent situation reports.

“The government is not relenting in ensuring that people have access to drinkable water in a sustainable way as dictated in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 to which this administration is committed. Water works “Between 2019 and now, the ad- ministration has fixed nine water works across the state, including in Patigi, and is constructing new ones in Jebba and Dumagi.

The results have taken Kwara from where it was, while more efforts continue to go into deepening public access to clean water in every part of the state. “The administration takes full responsibility for the welfare of the people of Kwara State, includ- ing in deepening access to water even to the remotest corner.

However, these efforts are understand- ably limited by resources, which must be spread to other sectors like basic education, healthcare, rural and urban roads, and other human capital development indices. “It is against this background that we call for patience and under- standing while the administration continues to fill the inexplicably deep gap it inherited in public access to basic amenities, especially in the rural areas of the state.

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