Beyond the radiance and lushness of Nigeria’s Federal Capital City – Abuja, some communities around the city centre live in abject water poverty which has greatly posed serious health-related challenges to the lives of the people and continually limit economic growth in the country.
Surprisingly, there are several villages, shanties, and slums that lie around civilization yet lack of basic amenities and infrastructures to reflect national development. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 1 in 3 people, that is, 2.4 billion, live without sanitation facilities while 663 million people still lack access to safe and clean drinking water. In 2017, this estimate changed to 2.3 billion people without sanitation facilities and 844 million people without access to safe and clean drinking water.
Zokutu community located in Kuje Area Council, one of the six area councils in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory is included in these statistics. Clean water is considered a luxury by the residents of Zokutu community exemplifying the enigma of deficiency in the midst of plenty.
Seyifunmi Adebote and Jimoh Oluwatobi Segun of Media for Community Change took a trip to see how 3000+ people lived in Zokutu Community without access to water.
A cave, 6 feet below ground level is the only source of water in the community, filling an all-purpose gap: bathing, laundry, cooking and drinking – without any form of purification. It is pitiable, yet true to posit that the level of development in Zokutu is next to nothing reflected in the poor road networks, the mud houses and limited telecommunication access.
On average, women and young children in Zokutu community have to visit the cave 5 times daily, sadly, the residential area is quite distant to the cave. Left with no alternative, day and night, people have to pass through bushy paths to scoop the oily, dirty, coloured, and smelling water from the cave to meet their basic domestic uses.
Because of the very steep slopes, women and children, mostly, have to ascend and descend the cave bare-footed to maintain a strong and firm grip. There have been cases of people falling and insects attack on people fetching water from the cave. Not surprising that the residents of Zokutu community are largely exposed to numerous health hazards, particularly, water-borne diseases and this is complicated by the absence of functional health facilities.
“I have lived here for over 30 years and this is the only source of water we have. Many times, people in the community fall sick because of the water they drink and when we go to the health centre, the people to attend to us complain that there are no drugs. Most of us are not in good health.” Danlani Mudu, the Security Chief (Seriki n pada) of Zokutu community lamented.
The Head of Zokutu community, 62 years old Yoana Bauta confirming Mudu’s position explained, “Sadly, the cave is the only option we have. The absence of a functional hospital has made things worse, in fact, some of our children have died in our hands. We are pleading that a borehole or other healthier source of water should be provided for the community”, Bauta grieved.
The unavailability of water has also affected the hygiene of ladies and women in this community, exposing them to menstrual health infections and illnesses. Another resident, 14 years old David, said that water poverty in the community has posed a threat to his education, as well as, that of his siblings and friends.”–
Titilope Fadare, For Media For Community Change Initiative