For many years, water scarcity persisted in the Okelele community in Kwara State. To get water for their household use, many residents trek to communities like Akerebiata, Harmony, Oja Oba, and Oke-Okuta, each not less than seven kilometres from the Okelele.
In 2019, a privately-owned borehole was constructed in the community with the hope of ameliorating the problem. Residents paid N150 to fetch a drum of water, which is about 25 litres. However, demand soon exceeded supply as some residents had to bribe the ‘men in charge’ to fetch.
These sufferings were significantly eased in 2021 when the lawmaker representing Ilorin East and South in the House of Representatives, Abdulganiyu Olododo, nominated several water projects across Ilorin East and South. One of these water projects was located at Ile Onilu, a sub-community in Okelele, Ilorin East local government.
“Before, we could trek for one hour to fetch water from the well,” 70-year-old Khadijat Soliu, a petty trader in the Okelele, said. “During that time, my body was still strong, and we could go there three times to fetch water. If we go to fetch water and get back home, we will spend up to two hours regaining our strength to start cooking.
“We used to put our legs inside watery mud while fetching water, and the watery mud used to enter into our container but we would still drink and use water to cook. But now, the children will just help me fetch the water from the borehole,” she added.
According to a report by Dataphyte, sourced from Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), 60 million Nigerians do not have access to drinking water. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) notes that contaminated water leads to diseases such as diarrhoea, which annually kills more than 70,000 children below the age of five.
To avoid a break out of such in his constituency, Mr Olododo, In 2021, facilitated a N250 project for the provision and installation of the solar-powered borehole in Ilorin East and South Local Government.
UDEME gathered that these solar-powered boreholes were located in more than eighteen communities in the constituency. The project is under the 2021 Federal government Consolidated Project also known as Zonal Intervention Project.
Some of these locations are Ile Bojua, Sabo Line Junction, Ile Dembo Isale, Ile Alfa Ibeji, Ile Dosumu, Imam Hamzat College, Darul Hikmat Olaoti, Gaa Osibi, Ojude Baraje, GDSS Amule Road and other communities.
These water projects were completed in November 2021, and, in each location, the boreholes comprised four tanks, six taps, solar power that is being used to pump the water, a signpost which includes the information about the project and a billboard which contains the picture of the facilitator.
UDEME tracked 13 of these projects and noticed that each community these boreholes were located appointed a monitoring committee to supervise it.
The boreholes were handed over to the community after. Some communities opened it in the morning, while some did in the evening. However, the maintenance committee used the community-generated revenue to repair the borehole if it developed any fault.
Akanbi Folohunsho, a resident of Balogun Fulani in Ilorin South Local Government, was seen repairing the tap of the new solar-powered borehole when UDEME visited the location.
“The reason I am maintaining this borehole is that it is closer to us, and we need to maintain it if we want to let this borehole last long,” he said.
Ahmed Kote, a middle-aged man and one of the monitoring committee of the borehole in Ajise community in Ilorin East, recounted that when the solar borehole stopped pumping well, an engineer was invited by the monitoring committee, and the solar panel was cleaned, which made the solar borehole to start working well again.
“We use the money generated from the minutes (funds collected for community development) to repair the borehole whenever it develops faults. The last time we invited the engineer, he just cleaned the solar panel, and the borehole started pumping well,” he explained.
Borehole brought ease – residents
Before the construction of the solar borehole in Idiaro in the Ilorin East Local government, residents had only the option of fetching from wells and buying from a privately-owned hand pump borehole in the community.
When UDEME visited the solar borehole, the residents were busy fetching from six taps in the borehole.
Like others interviewed, Abdullahi Fadhilat, a resident, said the project had eased water scarcity.
In Olaoti Community in Ilorin South Local government, residents are grateful the water project eased the problem of water scarcity and the hassle of fetching dirty water all year round.
Ibrahim Sheu, a resident in Olaoti, said the dry season is the most difficult period.
“We have to wake up early in the morning, like 4:30 or 5 am before others will wake up to fetch the well so that others will not meet us there,” he said.
In Ajise and Karuma communities, lack of electricity was never a problem since the construction of a new borehole in the community.
“It is up to two weeks that we don’t have light, and this solar-powered borehole has been serving us since the light has stopped,” Abdulateef Ahmad, a 47-year-old resident, says.
The story is the same for Isale Alaparun Ilorin East residents, Karuma Ilorin East, Ile Marafa Serki Gambari in Ilorin East, Zango Ward, Adifa in Ilorin East, Baraje Compound in Kankatu area, Ilorin East, Gbagba Gaa Osibi, Ilorin South and other communities UDEME visited.
Project Borne Out Of Promise – Lawmaker
The lawmaker, Abdulganiyu Olododo, said the project came as a fulfilment of his promise to the people.
Mr Olododo’s project manager, Abiodun Yitta, who spoke on his behalf, said he inaugurated a contract and mobilisation committee which visited all the 23 wards in Ilorin East and South to identify the critical and active problems of the residents living in each community.
“We documented it according to their requests. Some requested water, and some electricity, while some requested agricultural equipment, which forms part of our major manifestos and we started working on this document immediately the honourable was voted in. Our project whether light or water is according to the communal request which we believe by the time we have executed it there, it has actually solved their immediate problem,” he said.
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