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Report: Decades Without Water In The Shagari Low Cost-B Settlement

The Shagari Low Cost-B is located an area in the North-East of Maiduguri consisting of houses constructed in the 1970s. Most of the original owners have left the area. The settlement now harbours IDPs from Gwoza, Chibok, Askira Uba and Baga local government area who all live peacefully irrespective of religious differences, according to this assessment.

Shagari Low Cost-B settlement

It was 11 am on a Monday morning, most of the children are either at the neighbouring Army Children School 1 & 2, the community’s Africa Missions Global Nursery and Primary school or at their parents’ farmland assisting them. 

However, the street was decorated with different shades and sizes of water storage drums. One might mistake the drums to be for sale at the entrance of each household in Shagari Low cost-B.

It was later discovered that the drums are used to buy water from water vendors or water trucks at the rate of N200 per 200 litres every day in the community.

“Lack of water is our major problem in this area,” says Mrs Hauwa Saidu.

The 43-year-old Mrs Saidu has been residing in the Shagari Low-Cost Settlement B for over 30 years. 

“If water vendors are not available, we send our children to fetch water from Musari (A neighbouring village miles away) at the rate of N10 or N20 per 25-litre gallon,” she explained. 

Other residents also agreed with her.

One of the residents, Mr Luka Diya, an internally displaced person (IDP) from Baga Local Government Area taking refuge in the community reiterated that the water available is not enough for them and certainly not enough to feed their animals. 

“A household might sleep with hunger and without taking a bath for a day, two or three” he added.  

Outside Mr Diya’s house was 12-year-old Mercy Ijai (not real name) seen moving a wheelbarrow with two gallons towards the main road.

Mercy, the last born of a family of ten was sent to fetch water by her mother from the neighbouring borehole. 

“It is better to collect rainwater or buy water at home than to go and fetch. Whenever I fetch either with the wheelbarrow or buckets, my hands and back used to pain me,” she said.

Mercy’s family is one of the households forced to borrow wheelbarrows from their neighbours to help them fetch water with less stress from the nearby community.

According to a ZOA Needs Assessment document, only 4% of the community have sufficient access to drinking water through water trucking or water vendors, which is too expensive or not suitable for drinking.

The Residents’ Initiative

Residents of Shagari Low-Cost B took it upon themselves, contributed stipends and built a dam, which unfortunately has insufficient and irregular outflow. The dam is currently dried up due to a power supply failure from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in the state capital. 

“This dam has been in existence for more than 15 years. We tapped the water from the Chabal community,” said Alexander Clement.

 The community’s obsolete dam which should serve more than 100 households. 

Mr Clement is one of the community members who always partook in the dam repair work whenever the need arose for accessible water in the community. 

“For water to be accessible and sufficient in this settlement, a borehole has to be dug 300-meter deep away from the ground level,” Bulama Saidu Muhammed, a retired staff of the Ministry of Water Resources and the community leader affirmed.

The Big Intervention

Sequel to appeals and reports submitted by Bulama Saidu Muhammed on behalf of the community to the Borno State Ministry of Water Resources and concerned Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), the state government elevated a water tank in the area. However, the water tank is not available now, only a water tower is left beside the unfunctional dam.

The non-functional water tank tower erected beside the community’s dam at Shagari low cost-B

Similarly, in 2020, an undisclosed NGO dug a 170-meter borehole that dried up without supplying the community.

 The broken-down borehole

Now, the residents of this area are pleading to the State government, NGO’s and other relevant authorities to come to their aid.

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