Undoubtedly, millions of Nigerians despite abundance natural and human resources that abound across the country, are still living in abject poverty due to failure of those they have over the years entrusted with their mandate to represent them at various levels of government. These group of Nigerians are found in each of the 36 States that make up the country – some have government’s presence while some don’t.
Nok village, Jaba Local Government Area of Kaduna State is one of those communities with little government’s presence despite its historical value not only to the state, but the entire black race.
Located in Southern part of the State, Northwest Nigeria, and about 210 kilometres from Kaduna, the State capital, Nok’s residents were once upon the time lack access to safe drinking water and they have to depend on rivulet and rivers for survival – because water is life.
History revealed that, civilization in Nok was discovered in 1928 as a result of tin mining that was happening in the area. The Nok people are predominantly Christians, know to be the earliest producers of life-sized Terracotta in the Sub-Sahara Africa.
Nok, which currently houses a National Museum, called Nok Terracotta has produced numerous businessmen, politicians, captain of industries, prominent academia include the late foremost biochemistry Professor and Education Commissioner, Andrew Jonathan Nok.
The community lamentation and UNICEF intervention
The people in this community hinted a team of developmental journalists who visited the area recently that, they have to embark on compulsory exercise by climbing about 6,000 feet mountain to get drinking water from a rivulet atop a mountain natured within their ‘reach’.
The community said, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was quick to came to their aid by providing them with safe portable water which has improved their health status.
In 2016, UNICEF, seeing the hardship the natives was going through in search of water for domestic purposes, provided them with a 15,000 litres capacity solar powdered borehole to ameliorate their suffering. The intervention came as part of the implementation of Sanitation Water and Hygiene in Nigeria (SHAWN II) project.
SHAWN II is a Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project in Kaduna state, funded by the UKAID through her Department for International Development (DFID), in collaboration with UNICEF and the Kaduna State Government through the State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA).
Explaining the hardship they have gone through in getting both drinking and washing water, Christiana Joshua, a 47-years old mother of 5, said, “I have been climbing this rock for the past 30years, since I got married in this village.
“As a young married woman, I don’t expect my husband who is always off to farm to be fetching water for me, even though the rock is very high and slippery, especially during raining season. I really went through a lot of hardship getting water from the rock. Climbing it is not even the major issue, but if you are climbing down with water on your head, that’s when you face the most difficulty.
“It becomes more intense when you are pregnant. I carried all my five pregnancies with basin of water on my head from this rock. In fact, I gave birth to my first child on top of the rock with no one’s help. I never knew I was going to deliver that day but was already very heavy and I needed water. I had to climb the mountain. It was that force that I climbed with that led me into an emergency delivery. Thank God I survived it.
“The whole of Nok village used to climb this rock once its dry season because there was no water sources anywhere in this area except for the few rich people who later dug boreholes in their houses and they will not allow you to fetch unless you pay some amount. So many people wanted to dig their wells. But there is rock everywhere under the soil that you can not break, so the community almost lost all hope of getting water, before UNICEF came in 2016 when we were not even expecting.”
She then thanked UNICEF for supporting the state government and remembering them when they have already lost hope of ever gaining access to quality water, adding that, “history will forever remember those who made it possible.”
25-years old, Mary Yang, who guided journalists to the top of the mountain, also shared her experience as a child who grew up in the community.
According to Mary, “it takes up to 30 minutes to get one basin of water down from the rock. I usually felt very weak each time I come back from the rock. Sometimes, I have to climb it three times a day because there are so many things to do with water; i will wash the chores, clothes, take my bathe and do some other things too.
“But thank God for the coming of WASH because they have made life easy for me. Since they gave us this borehole I never have any reason to climb the mountain anymore except if I want to have a feel of nature or take some visitors around like I’m doing now”, she stressed.
She continued, “sometimes, when the rains are much, the water overflows from the rock and flows downwards and during that period you may not need to go up, even though the rush is not much and the community will queue up. During that period, the path to the top of the rock becomes slippery and we had cases where women fell while trying to come down with water on their head. And there are spots where you have to sit down to cross certain obstacles.” Mary added.
Another Woman who also shared her experience was, Victoria Marcus, a mother of five, she noted, “one of the things i will forever be grateful to God for, is saving us from dangerous animals who equally goes to the water pond in search of water for their own survival.
“The water was not a good one, but we drank from it all these years because we don’t have any option and we know the health implications of drinking it, but there was no help. Thank God we have gone past that era now. And you can hardly find our children fall sick. God will bless UNICEF.”
Call for more action
With this development, the people here now have access to safe drinking water for domestic purposes. This will save them from out-of-pocket medical bills due to diseases relating to dirty and polluted water they hitherto use.
Though this may be a drop in the ocean as regard numbers of communities where interventions such as health facilities and water are required, other non-governmental organisations and spirited individuals can step up their corporate social responsibility game to meet the community needs of Nigerians especially, the rural dwellers as this will checkmate rural-urban migration in addition.