Despite water being consistently cited as a top priority for poor communities and the fact that sanitation brings the greatest return on investment of any development intervention, rural communities have been overlooked in the global development agenda.
Targets set for maternal and child health, primary education, gender equality and economic growth are all in some way dependant on people gaining access to the most basics of human needs: safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation.
These issues will become ever more pertinent as the world’s population continues to grow,
as cities and rural communities expand and there is increasing stress on global water resources.
This, together with the impact of climate change, means there is an increasingly urgent need to tackle the sanitation and water crisis facing the poor and the less privileged in Nigerian.
Bauchi-water1Such was the case with Taran and Gaukaka-Lasauya communities of Bauchi State when Sunday Vanguard visited the two communities in the eastern and northern parts of the state.
The visit was at the instance of the leadership of WaterAid Nigeria, a civil society organisation, CSO,with a mission to transform lives by improving access to safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation in the world’s poorest communities.
In these rural communities were men, pregnant women, youth and children whose appearance evoked sympathy.
Investigations revealed that in Taran community, there was only one source of water for the villagers and animals to drink.
For the villagers, it is a way of staying alive; it didn’t matter if water borne diseases become their way of life.
“We drink water from the same source with our goats. When we get to the stream to fetch water and discover that goats have come ahead of us to drink, what we do is to fetch the surface that we believe the mouths of the goats touched and pour it away, then proceed to fetch our own,” said Rahal Bitrus, one of the women in Taran.
“We don’t have any other source of water. We just reduce the surface and fetch our drinking water even though we know there are consequences, but we are left with no option.
“The water sometimes gives us and our children diarrhea and typhoid fever and very painful urine, but we still go ahead and drink it to stay alive.
“We trek about nine kilometers to get to the river to fetch the water we are talking about, and, of course, it is affecting our lives, economy and even our children’s education.
“This lack of water affects our economy in the sense that we have to look for water before going to the market and, by the time you go and come back, on getting to the market, some transactions would have been made which you must have missed and sometimes we end up not going to the market because we must have been late and prospective customers gone home.”
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