Water scarcity has been a huge challenge for different administrations in Kano State where the majority of the population are not serviced.
An investigation by HumAngle reveals that Kano State Water Board is incapacitated by obsolete equipment and resources as well as a negative attitude by the populace to function effectively.
In a report titled, “Groundwater Condition and Management in Kano Region, Northwestern Nigeria”, published on February 9, 2018, researchers stated that geographical features, among others, contributed to the problem of water supply in the state.
The study was conducted by Abubakar Ibrahim Tukur and Aliyu Baba Nabegu (Department of Geography, Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil); Da’u Abba Umar (Department of Environmental Sciences, Federal University Dutse), Emmanuel Ajayi Olofin (Department of Water Resources Management and Agro-Meteorology, Federal University, Dutse ) and Wan Nor Azmin Sulaiman (Faculty of Environmental Studies, University Putra, Malaysia UPM).
Kano region in northwestern Nigeria covers seasonally humid and semi-arid regions, accounting for 65 per cent of the total population of northwestern region, the report stated.
It noted that natural and anthropogenic influences such as drought, desertification, rapid population growth, agricultural development coupled with pollution from industrial activities and domestic use contributed to an imbalance between water supply and demand as well as the quality of surface and groundwater resources.
The study added that “the region has not yet acknowledged the extent of the problem of water availability in the area.
“This is evidenced by the absence of any long-term strategies for water management. As such, balancing water availability and rising population (human demand) is the major challenge in the region.
“Groundwater in the urban Kano area, for instance, appears to be a common and low-cost alternative to surface water for many uses because it occurs generally in a more potable quality compared to surface water.”
It stated that despite the growing dependency upon groundwater for different uses in urban Kano, concerns remained over the sustainability of the resource “principally in terms, not only of the rate of abstraction but also in terms of the quality and quantity because the area is underlain by igneous structure.”
It added: “The uses of groundwater in the region varies from commercial, domestic, and agricultural uses. In the northeastern part of the region, groundwater is the only source of fresh water for various domestic uses.”
HumAngle had earlier reported on the problem of water supply in Alfindiki area of Kano city.
Some retired workers of the water board and medical experts shared experiences with HumAngle on water scarcity in the state.
An ex-worker of Kano State Water Board, who chose not to be identified, said: “Since Goron Dutse water distribution centre stopped getting water in its reservoirs, it has been a major challenge that has led to water scarcity in Kano metropolis because companies are consuming much of the water than the citizens.
“The water board is generating much revenue from these companies than it gets from the citizens. The board cannot fund itself without revenue from those companies.
“When I was in service for over 40 years, there was water in Kano for the population which was low compared to the recent rapid growth of population in Kano.
“Currently, the population has increased by more than 70 per cent, more companies are now operating which consume more water than was the case” and so most homes cannot be reached.
“I don’t know whether the water board management understands this scenario that leads to scarcity of water, because I believe if they build more water treatment plants, I think water should be planted to meet demands.
“More water plants should be initiated because now we only have Tamburawa water plant, Bagwai water plant, and there is another one at Joda, Gezawa Local Government Area, which I don’t know if it is functioning.
“Most of the water plants are actively working but due to high demand for water from the population which is not enough, it looks like there is no water in Kano.
“To solve the problem, more water has to be pumped on a daily basis and also increase the amount of power in those active water plants.
For instance, the water plant at Chalawa, Kumbosto Local Government Area, can supply the whole of Kano State with water but the pumping machines are very slow due to insufficient electricity.
“So electricity is also one of the major challenges that cause slow pumping in most of the water plants, and some machines are outdated while others are rusty.
“But for now, the only active water plants in Kano State are Chalawa, Tamburawa, and Bagwai, which is not enough to supply water due to insufficient electricity (supply) and nature of the operation.”
Another former employee said: “The issue of water scarcity in Kano is a challenging one because most of the pumping machines and pipes have been operating for over 30 years.”
He said such equipment had either been damaged or become rusty and repairs carried out on them were no longer sustainable.
The former worker said “some of the reticulation pipes are blocked” which also leads to poor supply in Kano.
He said some of the problems derived from the attitude of the citizens, adding, “there are some places that there is water but due to lack of awareness from the residents” who failed to report cases of blocked pipes to the board for repairs.
He said sometimes water pipes were damaged by individuals carrying out construction works.
“So when we pump the water it is wasted on the street. In such cases, the management will order us to block the reticulation pipes of such areas.
“Also, private plumbers are a major problem. Sometimes, they destroy our pipes or cause diversion of water unprofessionally.
“There are myriads of the problem which water board is facing, including financial problems. Since 1996, the era of Kabiru Gaya, water board workers have not been on the government payroll. From that time up to date, the management handles the payment of salaries and other expenses.
“However, to cover these expenses, the management has to generate a minimum of N80 million to N100 million to cover the cost of electricity and salaries. And also some repairs are handled by the management of the water board. For example, repairing five inches of pipe costs over N200, 000. Most especially the pipes in Sharada Road, they regularly get burst but now the government has put the effort into installing D.I pipes.
“Most of our reservoirs at Goron Dutse have collapsed, we have three reservoirs; two are damaged remaining one only which is not enough. Also, a large population in Kano State now is the greatest concern about the shortage of water in most areas. Some areas don’t even have the mainline of pipes in their areas.
“If the government will collaborate with the water board most problems would be solved because the government only supports us with diesel and chemicals but any other activities are managed by the board. And most of these resources that government supports us with are not managed by the water board, the funds for that are managed by some cabals in government and we do get sufficient resources.
“For instance, the funds for the purchase of chemicals are supposed to be credited to the water board. And sometimes some funds are misused by the management of water board.”
The ex-worker further said the water board lacked the sufficient number of staff to operate.
He said Water Resources and Engineering Construction Agency, a department of the Ministry of Water Resources, and the water board, had less than 1,500 workers.
“There are 26 centres and in each of these centres, the permanent and pensionable staff are not more than 10.
“It was during the tenure of former Governor, Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso that 1,000 workers were employed, who are even temporary workers, and the temporary workers are not fully working as the permanent ones.
“Solutions to the problem of water scarcity in Kano are payment of tax from the citizens, government support to the Ministry of Water Resources and also we the experienced retired workers that have been in the service for the past 38 years should be called to give a proper plan and blueprint in curbing the problems because some of the current staff lack knowledge of the Kano State treatment plants,” he suggested.
Meanwhile, some medical experts say water scarcity undermines the effort in fighting COVID-19.
They said that water is one of the essentials in the fight against COVID-19 and other diseases.
The experts who work with Center For Infectious Diseases, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano, said that without water nothing could be done in the process of conducting tests and treatment of patients.
They stressed that doctors must wash and sanitise themselves, adding that in conducting tests, there were materials that must be boiled before conducting tests.
They said the scarcity was affecting their work and added that but for water boreholes constructed by the hospital management, the situation would have been worse.
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