At the wake of Coronavirus (COVID-19), one of the cheapest measures to check the spread of the pandemic as announced by the World Health Organisation(WHO) was constant washing of hands with soap and running water. The big question is, how many Nigerians have access to ‘running’ water to get this done?
On Monday, April 6, 2020, the World’s health body re-emphasised the importance of one of its intervention called Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in managing the pandemic.
Specifically, the WHO said, “safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services are an essential part of preventing and protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks, including the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of the most cost-effective strategies for increasing pandemic preparedness, especially in resource-constrained settings, is investing in core public health infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems.”
Kaduna, despite being the leading State in statistical implementation of the WASH intervention in Nigeria even ahead of Lagos State, thousands of its residents still lack access to water (either running or walking, safe or unsafe) which serves as catalyst to prevent community transmission of the CIVID-19.
With humongous yearly budgets, billions of naira already spent on the much publicised Zaria water projects, World Bank assisted water intervention project in Kaduna among others, it is expected that public water supply would have covered vast majority of towns and villages in the State.
This development has resulted into self-help. Every property owner now sink borehole or in the process of doing that, which experts claimed to have serious implications on environment.
From Kawo to Mando, Rigasa to Gonin-Gora, Sabo to Anguwan Rimi, the stories are similar. Majority of those who have access to public water still support it with other sources especially, wells and boreholes to fulfill their daily use.
WHO believes that, good WASH and waste management practices, that are consistently applied, serve as barriers to human-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 virus in homes, communities, health care facilities, schools, and other public spaces.
Some Kaduna residents share their experiences with regards to access to running water and barriers limiting them. A resident of Bayan Dutse by Church Road, Narayi, Chickun Local Government, Barrister Rebecca Sako-John, relies on borehole as long as there is power to pump water.
“We have access to safe water from borehole in my house. We have access as long as there is power. Also, we put a pump outside for neighbours to fetch”, she said.
Another resident, who lives at Kabala Costain, Kaduna North Local Government, Bako Abdul Usman, also relies on borehole, which has been helping his household to maintain COVID-19 water hygiene advice.
Also, a resident of School road, Ungwan Dosa, Kaduna North Local Government, Hajiya Hadiza Umar, relies on public supply from Kaduna Water Corporation – twice a week.
To her, “we have access to water from Kaduna water works twice a week. We also buy from water board truck supply. That has reduced susceptibility to water-borne diseases and made cleaning and washing easier.”
Zailani Musa, who lives at Kagoro street, Sabon Gari, Kaduna South Local Government, said “my water sources are public (twice a week) and borehole. But, due to poor electricity supply, borehole is not efficient.
“But the borehole is not much effective as the electricity supply to my area is enjoyed at midnight when most of us are asleep”, he said.
A resident of Tunruku street, by Narayi bus stop, Chikun Local Government, simply identified as Bisi said, ” here in Narayi, thousands of us have serious water issue. You can see that we are here at a construction site to fetch water.
“With hard means of getting water like this, let me be honest with you, I don’t do much washing. When I fetch this water like this, I make judicious use of it especially now that we are in lockdown in Kaduna. Water is a big issue here”, she said.
To Nyam Katuka Paul, “for about two years, we the people of Narayi ward in Chikun Local Government area of Karina Atate, have been into this problem of water.
“There are parts of Narayi that have been without water for the past 10 years. The problem is that, a pillar that is holding the main pipe which supply water to Narayi collapsed and the Water Cooperation fixed it.
“Unfortunately, it collapsed again the very first day it was fixed when they were trying to run water through it. Since then, nothing has been done about it”, he claimed.
However, in an interview published on Daily Trust website, March 23, 2020, the Managing Director, Kaduna State Water Corporation (KADSWAC), Sanusi Maikudi agreed that, there are a lot of work to do to have sufficient water supply in the State.
He said in part of that interview that, “no, we don’t have optimum water supply because the UNICEF and UNESCO par capita water supply should be an average of 120 litres per person per day. But our production capacity, urbanisation and population explosion have stretched what we have on the ground.
“We are now on the drawing board and doing two things. One is that, the existing water treatment plants which are about 610 million litres capacity per day, must be retrofitted. That is, old machines and old pumps are being replaced with ultramodern ones and the implementation has reached an advanced stage.
“Another one is the greater Kaduna metropolitan water supply expansion and sanitation project, which we are undertaking in partnership with development organisations and other stakeholders. So, we have a gap, we are aware of it, and systematic action is being taken to bridge the gap”, submitted Sanusi.
But, what can be done to salvage the situation before the KADSWAC retrace its steps and improve on it’s facilities in this regard?
A water sanitation expert with Centre for water and Environment Development (CWED), Doris Zakama, suggested the need for regular supply of water by tanks to the areas not presently covered by the KADSWAC even if it is once in a week.
According to her, “emergency water supply in pandemic is necessary to supply water by tankers to communities where they don’t have access to public or private safe water.
“The supply may be once in a week where residents will be asked to bring out their containers in front of their houses while the tankers go round to supply them without gathering crowd.
“To ease water scarcity with the lockdown and now that Ramadan is here, to encourage water hygiene to check the spread of COVID-19 at community level, I want to suggest that, the State Government add water to the palliative they are giving especially to those that are not currently connected to public water pipes.”
By Sola Ojo