Water is one of the necessity for human lives and it challenges is making life difficult for many people and communities around the globe most especially in developing nations which Nigeria is included. For this reason, the United Nation set aside 23rd of March of every year to highlights the importance of fresh water. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. It was on this note that the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) on the 28th of March, 2021 constituted a media team and paid a field visit to some of the communities that are in dare need of water in Kunchi Local Government of Kano State. The objectives of the visit were to:
- Assess the level of the challenges the communities are facing in terms of accessing and using water
- Gather some evidences and data that will be used to advocate to concerned authorities, Philanthropies and Non-Governmental Organizations to come to the aid of the communities
- Bring the issue to the public notice so that necessary actions will be taken to address it.
The team started the visit with Gwalaide village of Gwarmai ward where more than 20 communities depended on a single well that was built for over 35 years by a philanthropist for their source of water. The communities according to the ward head of the Gwalaide village, Malam Haruna Mai Unguwa Dan Zubairu that are using the well include: Dagiri, Limamai, Kargo, Jodade, Gadango, Borin Zare, Madaka, Gwadama, Waire, Santa, Agalawa, Hayin Malamai, Kuku, Gidan Maigari, Gobirawa, Sabuwar Tasha, Tutawa, Jinjimawa, Baje Yola etc. According to the ward head of Gwalaide village, these communities are coming to the well every day for over 30 years to get the water they would need for their daily activities. Also in our interview with a 65-year-old resident of the area, Malam Yahuza Muhammadu Yahuza of Kuku community, he narrated to the team that his communities are in dare need of water. He stated that every day he has to trek for more than 30 minutes and wait on the queue for 8-10 hours before he could get the water his family will use for that particular day. He continued in a cracked voice, to mention that because of this problem, they have for long stopped their children from going to school in order for the children to fetch the water the family will use.
Another resident of the area, Malam Abdullahi Mustapha revealed to the team that this water challenge in the area has deprived the people of the communities many things; their children are not being able to go to schools, frequent diseases outbreaks in the area because they are using same water their animals are using and as Muslims their women are no longer observing the purdah (women sitting indoors as prescribed by the holy Qur’an) because they have to come out too to help the family in getting the water and most of the times during Ramadan they use to force their children to break fasting in the day time due to the hardship they are facing in fetching the water. Malam Mustapha described the politicians in the area as of people with empty promises.
The team also visited another community in the Local Government, named Kwardagwallen Shuwaki of Shuwaki ward, the community is not more than 22 kilometers from the Local Government Headquarter. This particular community has only one hand borehole which more than 10 communities relied on for their source of water. According to Malam Muhammad Umar, a resident of the community, thousands of people from the neighboring communities are every day trooping to get their daily water. He noted that the communities are in this difficult situation for a very longtime but no one cares to come to their aid. When he was asked on whether they have ever complained to the government, Muhammad Umar said he could not remember how many times they have complained to the authorities but what they received every time were empty promises.
- The communities’ people are finding it difficult to access water
- Their children are not being able to go to schools
- Frequent disease outbreaks in the areas
- The communities’ people are using same water their animals are using
- As Muslims their women are no longer sitting indoors as prescribed by the holy Qur’an because they have to come out too to help the family in getting the water
- During Ramadan they used to force their children to break fasting in the day time due to the hardship they are facing in fetching the water
- Teachers and healthcare personnel posted to these communities do not report to work on time because they also have to look for water for their use
- There are no motorable roads in a terrain that is characterized with too much sandy depressions
- In spite of their water problem, they also suffer from gully erosion which affects their farming activities and in the raining season they suffer devastating floods
- This water problem is not limited to a few communities in the Local Government but affects nearly as much as two-thirds of the communities of the local government area
- Governments both at local and state levels should provide wells and boreholes in the areas
- Philanthropies and Non-Governmental Organizations to also help in massive construction of boreholes and wells in the communities
- Government should build schools in the area
- Government should construct road that connect these communities
- Civil Society Organizations to sensitize the communities’ people on the importance of community contributions
The situation in Kunchi Local Government area illustrate the sad reality that for many rural communities, they are yet to see the dividends of democracy. They have continued to endure years of rural neglect as if they are not citizens. Daily, their ears are assailed by reports of the huge sums of money government claims to be spending on development projects such as the recently announced 9 billion for the new flyover bridge by the Kano State Governor and yet no tier of government had cared to address this basic need of the people. They have heard government declaring education as free but their children cannot attend school because of the children and their teachers have to spend a great part of their day looking for water. They have heard government is building rural primary healthcare centres and yet in these communities, the primary healthcare centres cannot function because they have no water. There are stories about government promoting rural employment through empowerment but here there are no roads so people are desperate to leave their community to escape the grinding poverty of this place where people do not have time to engage in other thing as they spend the greater part of their time looking for water. Various communities of Kunchi Local Government have heard on radio the debates annually about the state and national budgets but see nothing coming to their communities from the budget. They have, like all other communities, elected representatives from Councilors and Local Government Chairman to state and National Assembly members, yet they do not hear these elected representatives talking about their problems. Their closeness to the Local Government is only geographical because they are unable to access it and get it to address their problems. Indeed, Kunchi Local Government communities are outside governance in every positive sense and only come to contact with authorities as one of the member of the community observed, when a youth from the community commits a breach of the law.