Water they say is life. While man can live without food for 40 days, hardly can he survive without water for just three days. Findings showed that 70 percent of our bodies composition is made up of water.
The importance of writer to human existence, cannot be over emphasized. Apart from human beings that will be affected, the United Nations General Assembly recognises, drinking water and sanitation as human rights, which means everyone must have access to them.
The World Bank has also described water scarcity as a major threat to economic growth and stability around the world.
However, this all important necessity of life has, over the years, been one of the major problems that rural dwellers in Ondo State have been confronted with.
Reasons for this are not far-fetched. Findings showed that 90 percent of water facilities in the over 3, 256 communities in all the 18 local government areas of the state are moribund, with little or no effort from successive administrations in the state to revive them.
The consequence of this is that people trekking long distances in search of water, either hygienic or not, that they view is drinkable, not minding the health implications.,
Most worrisome is even the substantial amount of money some spend daily to get water, either for personal or commercial use.
For instance, at Isua in Akoko South East Local Government Area, some dwellers said they spend between N500 and N1000 on water daily especially food vendors in the community especially during the dry season.
Madam Aterebado Modupe, a pap seller and Mrs Agnes Kolade a food vendor told Special Focus in the course of a visit to the community that they spend substantial amount of their daily income to pay their water suppliers from Oka Akoko, the headquarters of Akoko South West Local Government.
“Everyday, I spend close to N1000 on water. N400 in the morning and N700 in the evening because as a pap seller, I need a lot of water for my business because if your pap is not clean or neat, people will not buy it. I must confess that the situation was draining my daily income,” Aterebado lamented.
This was the situation in many rural communities in the state before the coming on board of the government in the state.
Determined to bring an end to this problem, the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, on assumption of office woke up the sleeping State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, RUWASSA, an agency saddled with the responsibility of providing clean water for rural dwellers in the state.
This was then followed by the appointment of Mrs Yetunde Adeyanju, as the Chairman of the agency on the 10th of March, 2018.
Consequently, Arakunrin Akeredolu gave the agency a marching order to take inventory, evaluate and carry out the NEEDS assessment of existing water facilities in the state with a view to addressing the age-long lack of access to safe drinking water that is endemic in the state.
Part of the mandate was to carry out on-the-spot remedial and technical solutions on the water facilities that could be immediately repaired.
Sequel to this order, Mrs Adeyanju summoned her lieutenants in the agency who are civil servants to map out effective strategies for prosecuting the assignment.
After their strategic planning and engagement, they came up with a Water-for-All programme code named, “KAMOMI AKETI WATER SCHEME” which kicked off at Ijare in Ifedore Local Government Area of the state on March 23rd.
Their first achievement in the community was the revival of the borehole on the premises of St David’s CAC Primary School, Ijare which, according to investigation, had stopped running for over three years.
But after intensive work on the facility, the agency’s team of engineers succeeded in bringing the borehole back to life.
Having succeeded there, they moved to other Araromi Omaladan communities to carry out similar assignments, and they recorded tremendous successes.
The team, for weeks, were in other communities in the council area and they achieved their purpose in line with the mandate given to them by the Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN.
Then came the turn of Owo Local Government. And the first community to benefit was Uso where only four out of the 18 boreholes were running. In fact, the traditional ruler of the community, Oba Adenola Olanipekun recounted the problem faced by his people in their bid to get drinkable water to the team when they paid him homage in his palace with a view to intimate him of their mission in his domain.
The Monarch said that lot of man-hour is wasted in the search for portable water by his subjects especially during the dry season and their efforts to dig deep well often prove futile because the water level of the area is difficult to get to.
He added further that during the dry season water- related diseases are common in the area . He appreciated the Arakunrin Akeredolu led administration for restoring life to his people “because water is life”.
The team that visited the area worked on a number of non-functional hand pump water facilities in the community and water started running for the use of the people. And, joyfully, today, the intervention has re-written the story of the people whose major headache was lack of access to potable water.
Another community that benefitted in the council is Iyere where Madam Olayeri Adebare and Mrs Caroline Daramola, who are food sellers paid through their noses to get water for use in their businesses. In the community alone, no fewer than five repairable boreholes were brought back to life to the excitement of the people of the community who would now no longer spend money to get water.
Also in the local government, Amurin, Emure-Ile and Ipele communities also benefitted from this water, for, all scheme.
A number of communities in Ile Oluji/ Okeigbo Local Government have also been touched in continuation of the exercise. The boreholes on Oke Odunwo and the one around the town hall at Ile Oluji, headquarters of the local government were resuscitated. Also brought to life are the ones located at Okerowo and Oke Otunba streets also in the town.
Lippanu and Bamikemo, two agrarian settlements in the local government also had their own share of “Kamomi Aketi Water Scheme” of the state government.
The problem of water scarcity facing the people then was better imagined than experienced. It was a harrowing experience. Some of the rural areas who have benefitted from this scheme gave thanks to the present administration because they had in no small measure felt it.
So far, seven local government areas have been captured since the take off of the scheme. They are: Ifedore, Owo, Ileoluji/Okeigbo, Ese Odo, Akoko North East and presently Idanre. Over 600 dysfunctional water facilities have been rehabilitated under the scheme.
Moreover, government has taken a further step in achieving its zero tolerance to lack of access to potable water with the drilling of new boreholes in areas worst hit by water crisis. And the area currently benefitting from this is the Okemapo quarter of Alade-Idanre.
The boreholes which are expected to be completed soon will provide 20, 000 litres of water per day and it will be reticulated round the area. As the rehabilitation team advanced to other local governments in the state, a gradual end is coming to the problem of lack of access to potable water in rural communities across the state.
The people of Borejike applauded Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN for these laudable projects. According to Mr Olasemiju Emmanuel, a resident of the area, this has been their heartcry, ever since, to successive administrations in the state, but none of them fulfilled their campaign promises. “When they got our votes, they forgot their electioneering campaign promises to us. That has been their norm all the time.”
But Arakunrin Akeredolu (APC) led administration has changed our perception “that politicians are not reliable” Olasemiju said.
He however pleaded with the team to step up their activities, so that the work will be delivered on the stipulated time. When completed, access to clean water will reduce frequent visits to the hospital for medical attention and subsequently improve the economy of the area.
The Chairman of Ondo State Water and Sanitation (WATSAN), Mrs Yetunde Adeyanju enjoined the benefiting communities and the people in general to maintain the facilities in their areas.
The General Manager of the scheme, Engr. Rotimi Oladimeji said that in order for this administration to achieve this fete in water provision where over 600 communities have benefitted in less than six months of its operations, the state obtained an international grant worth $2.3million.
The GM pleaded with the people to see the projects as their personal property and take care of it, as they would if they are the one that spent such huge amount on them.
He commended the Akeredolu-led administration for listening to the yearnings and aspirations of the people of the state, he implored the people of the state to reciprocate this gesture by supporting the APC -led administration.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Utility and Chairman, State Technical Committee on power, Engr. Tunji Ariyomo, who also spoke with Special Focus said the Owena/Ondo Water Scheme being another government project, when completed will make 50 percent of the entire state capital and Ondo town and its environments to have access to potable water. He added that quick boreholes will also be provided in the remote areas where the water articulation can not reach .
“This year 2018 is a year of water provision as Arakunrin Akeredolu is set to make water available to all and sundry, “Ariyomo said.