By Adetokunbo Abiola
The consequences of lack of access to water and sanitation are grave. They include economic losses, high prevalence of water-related diseases, reduced school enrolment attendance, loss of dignity and others.
In recognition of this reality, the Akeredolu administration included water in its five cardinal programmes focused on improving the standard of living of the people.
But as at February 2017, when Akeredolu was sworn in, public water supply in all parts of Ondo State was zero. The major issue with water supply is to be able to have the required finance to support water provision. So, when money is lacking, it becomes difficult, especially where water is considered as a social service.
Secondly, the past failures of the state’s major water projects led to borehole as a workaround in towns and cities. For instance, the Awara Water in Ikare has the capacity to supply over 6,000 metric cube of water every day. But the scheme was abandoned several years ago. It simply meant that the people of Ikare had to resort to self-help through hand-dug wells or boreholes. The same thing applied to River Oluwa Regional Water Supply Project in Ondo South, which could serve 65 percent of the population of Okitipupa, Ilutitun, Igbotako, Iju Odo, Ode Aye, Ikoya, Igbobini and Ode Irele, up to Ore town. So, the objective of the Akeredolu administration was to revamp these major water schemes. It was also to liaise with serious development partners such as the AFD and the AfDB.
Consequently, the governor gave directives that his team must ensure that every single issue that hitherto made it difficult to access funds be resolved. In addition, the governor called on the Federal Government and other development partners to come to the aid of the state in boosting water supply to the people.
According to a statement issued in Abuja in August 2017, the governor said that the lack of access to portable water had made individuals to seek alternative water sources, some of which were not hygienic to humans.
He said that the state government had been unable to provide potable water for the people of the riverine areas of Ilaje and Ese-Odo Local Government Areas due to high salinity and iron content of the water.
“I am made to understand that the Federal Government is saddled with the construction of dams and making raw water available, this is a good policy and I am pleading that it should be fully extended to Ondo State.
“At the moment, most of our major urban water supply schemes, some of which were inherited from the defunct Western Region of Nigeria, have become old and inadequate in their capacities to meet the ever-increasing population and water demand.
“Some of the dams have virtually collapsed, while others are in a terrible state of disrepair, as reflected in the documentary earlier shown to members at this meeting,” he said.
Akeredolu said it was saddening that in spite of the huge investments over the years to rehabilitate and upgrade some of the water schemes, there were still many more schemes awaiting attention.
He said that the existing Owena-Ondo Water Supply Scheme could no longer supply potable water to the residents of Akure, Ile-Oluji and Idanre because the dam had collapsed.
He said that the state had put in place an enabling environment for potential investors in the water and sanitation sector, adding that his administration was ready to partner with local and international investors who were willing to execute water supply projects.
But the Akeredolu administration soon started practical steps at resolving the water supply crisis in the state rather than complaining. It kick-started the state’s community water revolution through its Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA).
Tunji Ariyomo is the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Utilities..
He said RUWASSA had identified over 200 sites for rural and small towns’ borehole rehabilitation projects as well as nearly 100 new borehole sites as part of efforts to overhaul rural water supply in the 18 local government areas.
He said: “Beyond the boreholes, which will meet immediate needs of our people, Mr. Governor has also recorded appreciable progress in urban water supply. The state has begun …consultancy on the supply of water to parts of the core urban centres in the state capital as part of a major water project that’s underway.
“For the community water projects, some of the beneficiary communities include Atipere, Agbayewa, Oke-Meji, Potoki on Idanre Road, Ifeloju-Alamoye as well as batteries of motorised boreholes with overhead tanks to be sited in Cocoa Board area in Oda.”
Ariyomo added: “The governor is determined to improving the standard of living of the people through water, electricity and construction of roads across the state.”
The adviser noted that “Governor Akeredolu has succeeded in getting the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) through the assistance of the Minister of Power, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), to energise Omotosho community in Ondo State. We expect Omotosho to go live any moment from today. This is a community that has never experienced electricity supply since the return to democracy in 1999 and even since the two national power plants were sited in that community.”
Ariyomo said his office was working with the Ministry of Education to tackle water shortage in the state’s special schools, including the School for the Deaf. challenges it faced on contractor selection.”
In any case, by November 2018, the administration had rehabilitated no fewer than 750 boreholes in about 300 communities under the Kamomi Aketi water scheme. At the 24th Meeting of the National Council on Water Resources, the General Manager, State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, RUWASSA, Engr. Rotimi Oladimeji, said eight local governments had been captured with 750 dysfunctional water facilities being rehabilitated.
According to him, local governments that have benefited include Ifedore, Ile-Oluji/Okeigbo, Owo, Odigbo, Ese-Odo, Idanre, Akoko-North, and Akure-North where the team is presently working. He affirmed that Governor Akeredolu’s directive to carry out need assessment of existing water facilities across the state with a view to providing on the spot remedial and technical solutions on the water facilities has been yielding a tremendous result.
Oladimeji said: “We have an approach whereby when we get to a community, the team will immediately solve the water problem because we are moving towards the dry season and we have to prepare the ground to ensure that the people of the state have access to potable water. That is why we are working day and night to meet the target.
“Formerly, we had two teams that were working on the field, but we have increased it to six so that we can have larger coverage within the shortest time.
“Ideally, it is a year programme, whereby we have to cover all the local governments, but along the line, we are doing thorough inventory, need assessment, after this, we have to collate the areas that require boreholes and the areas that need expansion.
“The drilling we are doing now is for those areas that critically need water. Immediately after the inventory and studies, we will get the total number where intervention is needed including the locations and then submit our report to the state governor.” Speaking on maintenance of the facilities, he said that the agency has scheduled a programme whereby the community people will be trained before handing over to them.
By December 2018, the Ondo State government made further moves to boost water supply in the state, just as it commissioned a new water scheme. at Ayede Ogbese in the Akure North Local Government Area of the state.
Akeredolu said the scheme was part of the state government’s efforts aimed at meeting the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 by 2030. While addressing people of the area, he said his administration embarked on the project following a devastating revelation that the percentage of public water supply in the state was less than four percent.
The governor added that 200 water fetching points are already being constructed across the community as part of the first phase of the scheme. He further said his administration would stop at nothing to ensure that the lives of the people improve.
The water scheme, which is being executed by the Ondo State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, RUWASSA, would provide potable water for the people of Ayede Ogbese and its environs.
Akeredolu explained that Ayede Ogbese water scheme was designed to have 5km reticulation and distribution network with a storage tank of 50m capacity that would discharge at full capacity twice a day with 100 public standpipes, 200 fetching points while one fetching point will serve 50 people.
He added that RUWASSA had been empowered to partner with corporate organizations to further increase water supply in the state. He expressed confidence in the body, saying it will eradicate less supply of water in the state.
Speaking at the commissioning, Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu appreciated the effort of the state government in creating access for increased water supply in the state. He also said such scheme will discourage open defecation.
Also speaking at the occasion, Chairman RUWASSA, Mrs Yetunde Adeyanju said the new scheme will help to sustain plan for Water Sanitation and Hygiene in the state. Adeyanju further explained that the Scheme is to improve, sustain and expand safe water supply to over 3,000 communities in the state.
Impressed by the success recorded in “Kaomoni Aketi Accelerated Water Scheme” of the Akeredolu administration, the federal government has adopted the model for all states across the federation.
It said that the Ondo State model is cost effective and community driven, as the federal government spends N400,000 to rehabilitate one hand-pump borehole compared to N81,000 used by RUWASSA to rehabilitate the same project
“To achieve our objectives, we have to go the way of Ondo model,” says Mrs.Jummai Umar-Wakasso, the Coordinator of the Federal Government-driven PEWASH programme to improve water supply across the entire country.
In sum, the present administration in Ondo State found itself in a desperate situation as regards its ability to provide water for the residents of the state.
Through sheer political will, it launched the Kamoni Aketi programme to improve the situation, and success is being recorded, and with time, it may be able to correct generational challenges that have plagued water supply in this part of the country.
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