Saving lives with boreholes in Osun rural communities  

By HAMEED Oyegbade

Though, they enjoy a good measure of serenity in their ancestral habitat, life was like hell for the rural dwellers in Osun State. From Oke-Ila in Ifedayo Local Government area of Osun State to Sanni-Otin, Oyan, Okuku and Inisa communities in Odo-Otin Local government area of the state, the problem of water scarcity was a serious challenge.

The water scarcity in the state was not limited to Ifedayo and Odo-Otin Local Government areas as it cuts across the state and the situation became worrisome. Housewives and children must trek a long distance to the stream on a daily basis to fetch water for their domestic chores particular for bathing, cooking, drinking. When the situation became worse, particularly in the dry season, some women who could not endure the situation left the community but some residents have nowhere to run to and they kept enduring the challenge helplessly.

Pastor Adeosun, a retired police officer is the Vice-Chairman of Sanni-Otin community development association and he lives in the community and feels the plight of his people. He narrated how the people in the community were suffering as a result of dearth of portable water. Adeosun said “water scarcity was a difficult situation in this community. Our wives and children go through stress and waste useful time struggling to get water. It was a very terrible situation and we wouldn’t run away from our homes.”

Mrs Asimotu Jolayemi, a petty trader also lives in the community and she is a living witness to the problem of water scarcity. She lamented that the time wasted looking for water would have been used on a productive venture and that after trekking far distance and wasting valuable time, the water fetched from the stream might not be clean in most cases.

Mr Moustapha Niang, a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) specialist with the United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF) told The Nigerian Voice that 57 million Nigerians do not have access to safe water supply and that more than half of these numbers live in the rural areas. He added that 15 million Nigerian still drink water from rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and irrigation canals. He said 45,000 children under the age of five die annually from diseases caused by poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene.

The state government was providing water for the residents of the state through the state water corporation and various water schemes in the state but this could go round the entire state.

However, these rural dwellers can now heave a sigh of relief as the water problem has vanished from the community. The people of the community now have access to potable water as a result of the hand pumps provided for them by the European Union (EU) and UNICEF) through a counterpart fund arrangement with federal government, state and the local governments as well as the community. The residents said the water provision is making life better for them and commended EU/UNICEF and government for the gesture.

The General Manager of the Osun Rural Water and Environmental Sanitation Agency (RUWESA), Mr Adiatu Olaposi said 480 hand pumps and solar boreholes have been provided to communities in Odo-Otin, Ifedayo and Ayedaade Local Government Areas and that 129 others are ongoing and that the projects would provide portable water for about 60,000 people in the state.

Olaposi said the EU/UNICEF Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme II involve provision of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene facilities in Communities, Schools, Health Centres and Public Places. He stated that EU/UNICEF contributed 70 percent of the cost of the projects, the state government constituted 15 percent, the local government contributed 10 percent while the communities also contributed five percent of the funding.

Speaking on behalf of other pupils, the President of the Health Club at St. Peter Anglican Primary School in Inisa Master Raphel Afolabi said the hand pump has made it easy for the pupils to get water to drink during the school hour. He said they are also getting water to take care of their hygiene, particularly to clean the toilet and the environment and to wash their hands after defecation.

Mrs Moradeke Adeniyi, a housewife in Oke-Ila said before the boreholes were provided, life was almost unbearable for the people. Adeniyi said, “Water scarcity was our major problem in this community before the solar boreholes were provided. In the past, we had to trek a long distance to the stream to fetch water but now the story is different. ‘We now get clean water from the boreholes for cooking, drinking and bathing.’’

Also, Mrs Deborah Adeshina, a health assistant in the community primary health centre, said that the provision of borehole had helped the health centre to maintain a clean environment.

Also, Mr Adediran Adedayo, the Local Government Vice-Chairman of the council, said the boreholes had helped the rural communities to overcome the challenges of water shortage in the community. Adedayo noted that lack of potable water was a major problem in the community but the people now no longer suffer.

Speaking on behalf of people of Sanni-Otin community, Pastor Adeosun water scarcity has become history and that the people are happy. Adeosun said "Water scarcity was our major problem in this community before the hand pumps were provided for us. In the past, our wives and children were fetching water from a stream but the water was not clean. The water we are fetching from the hand pumps now is clean and safe for drinking."

One of the housewives in the community, Mrs Julianna Idowu who was sighted fetching water from one of the hand pumps at Saani-Otin said the provision of the portable water has made life easy for her and enables her to perform her duties as housewife with less stress. Julianna said "unlike before, I'm not wasting time going to the stream to fetch water again. Now, I fetch water from the hand pumps and the water is very clean. Water scarcity was a big problem that almost forced me to leave this community but that problem has been alleviated."