July 24, 2016

Nigeria: UNICEF Constructs 280 Hand Pumps in Kaduna Local Communities

Mohammad Ibrahim
July 24, 2016

Boreholes offer the cheapest technology option for safe water supply in most rural areas of Africa

Boreholes offer the cheapest technology option for safe water supply in most rural areas of Africa

(WASH) Specialist in Kaduna State Mrs Theresa Pamma has said 280 hand pump boreholes were constructed and 16 others were rehabilitated under Phase I of Sanitation, Hygiene and Water in Nigeria (SHAWN I) project in the three Local Government Areas of Kaduna State in Nigeria.

The communities are in Chikun, Kachia and Kubau Local Government Areas of the state.

Pamma stated this at a side line of a two-day mid-year review meeting held in the state.

“As a result, household water safety has improved in the 320 communities, with 220,000 beneficiaries having access to improved water sources.

“The objective of the project is to ensure that children and women have protected access to sufficient safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities,” she said.

The WASH specialist said that the three councils had also implemented local government wide Open Defecation Free (ODF) plans, targeting 2,512 communities.

According to her, 748 communities are targeted for attainment of ODF status, out of which 320 communities were certified ODF within the last six months.

She said that 64 primary schools in the three SHAWN council areas were currently promoting group hand washing using taps innovation.

She said 7,200 pupils in 24 primary schools in the area had access to and utilize child-friendly gender-sensitive WASH facilities.

The specialist said that 71 local government officials and teachers had been trained and had acquired capacity for promotion of hygiene practices and management of school WASH facilities in SHAWN benefiting councils.

“Based on the achievement recorded in the three council areas, eight new councils have been selected to commence the second phase of SHAWN project in the state,’’ she said.

She identified delay in the release of counterpart and operational funds, change in government, dismissal and redeployment of key decision makers and staff verification as major challenges affecting the project.

She said that 84 communities in Chikun, Kachia and Kubau council areas were under security threats, thereby temporarily limiting implementation of intervention programme in the affected areas.

She urged the State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) to liase with the Ministry of Finance to ensure timely release of funds.

Pamma also urged Kaduna state government to conduct training for selected technical officials as supervisors in charge of construction of WASH facilities to improve quality of services.

July 24, 2016

Kenya: Shrinking Rivers Endanger Tionosoyiet Wetland in Kericho

Benedict Tirop
July 24, 2016

Mzee Richard Kemei has been drinking clean water drawn from the nearby river of “Kipkororiet” since he was a young man over 50 years ago.

The now elderly Kemei says his late mother Mrs. Priscila Sigilai and other women drawn from the nearby village of Keongo in Kapkugerwet ward in Ainamoi have been using the water from Kipkororiet River for the various household needs including drinking, washing utensils and bathing.

Water is an important resource and is used in many different ways.

Water is an important resource and is used in many different ways. Photo by Benedict Tirop

 

Coming from the Kipsigis community, who are largely associated with livestock keeping, the locals also utilized the clean water to quench the thirst of their animals.

“The river has served us very well in all our domestic needs for as long as we can remember,” he says.

They have also been conducting various sacred traditional ceremonies in this river.

However, Kipkororiet River, which is one of the major inflow streams for the Tionosoyiet wetland about one kilometer downstream, might very soon turn out to be a danger to the locals. This is due to the rapid pollution of the water through discharge of raw sewer by the mushrooming residential areas around the river system.

“Again, these days when we drink the water drawn from the river, it tastes and smells of the soap used for washing clothes. This makes it impossible to drink,” he adds.

He attributes the foul taste to the number of people who bathe and wash, which has quadrupled in the last 10 years.

Locals, including the family of Mzee Kemei are now forced to draw water from other smaller streams which feed Kipkororiet River to avoid exposure to diseases which are associated with pollution by the raw sewerage waste.

The area Village elder Peter Marindany says the water has been some of the cleanest in the country but now the threat of pollution was a risk to the health of the locals.

The Kipkororiet River has also shrunk greatly in the last 50 years, an incident which the locals attribute to clearing of forests, planting of Eucalyptus trees and encroachment of the town which is expanding rapidly.

As a community leader Mr. Marinday urges the locals to apply for piped water from the Kericho Water and Sanitation Company (KEWASCO) which he says was safe and reliable.

The shrinking of Kipkororiet river is not an isolated issue, since a neighboring river of Ainapbelek has also shrunk over five times its size in the last 20 years. The low volume flowing to the wetland, which acts as a reservoir is a threat to the ecosystem of the region.

Water is an essential nutrient for all livestock. It is important for both animal welfare and business profitability

Water is an essential nutrient for all livestock. It is important for both animal welfare and business profitability

Mzee Kemei and many others of his generation might know the meaning of good river water but are not well conversant with wetland conservation.

A survey done by the Ministry of Environment say Kericho town represented one of the most significant diffuse sources of pollution to the wetland, with sewage entering the wetland in the lower parts of the wetland, downstream.

It identified key areas within the town from which pollutants are likely to be derived as the market place, located about 500m from the southernmost point of the wetland, and spans about 5 hectares.

“Some of the activities at the market include open air sale of fresh food, grains, used and new clothes and household utensils. In addition, there is a terminal for public transport vehicles in the middle of the market area. The market area and matatu terminal are therefore likely to be significant sources of nutrients, sediments and gross pollutants,” it says.

The informal cottage industrial site (Jua Kali) contains artisans who fabricate a wide range of items including cooking pots, farm implements, vehicle spare parts, furniture and collection of recyclable materials among other products. Again this site is likely to contribute significant amounts of sediments, and gross pollutants into the wetland.

Other pollutants to Tionosoyiet include effluent from the KEWASCO Sewage Treatment Plant which is discharged into the wetland.

The densely populated Nyagacho informal residential area hosts a wide range of economic activities such as shops, garages, food outlets and butcheries. The area is not sewered, and has no organized solid waste collection systems. Much of the area drains into the wetland.

To save the situation, over 4,000 wetland friendly tree seedlings have been planted in the wetland by the government and other stakeholders and once they grew, the wetland will be turned into a nature trail/arboretum for recreation purposes.

Alternative livelihood activities such as fish farming and bee keeping within the wetland has also been introduced.

July 22, 2016

Africa Water Week: Lake Chad Countries Urged To Double Efforts to Save Water Body, Curb Migration

Water Journalists Africa
July 22, 2016

Countries from the Lake Chad region have been enjoined to double efforts to save the dwindling water body that is aggravating environmental degradation and migration in the region and consequently impacting on the social and economic wellbeing of the population.

Most African countries struggle to provide access to water and sanitation to their people

Most African countries struggle to provide access to water and sanitation to their people

Representatives of member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, LCBC, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, and Chad, attending the 6th Africa Water Week in Dar es Salam on July 19, 2016, agreed on the need to multiply strategies towards saving the lake.

“ Countries from the lake Chad need to coordinate their multiple efforts, bringing in new stimulating perspectives to save this important lake on which the livelihood of millions of people hinges,” said Mana Boubakari, technical director of the Lake Chad Basin Commission at a side event on ground water management in the lake Chad basin.

He said restoring the water body will help reduce poverty, transform the lives of people in the region especially women and youths and drastically reduce the incentive to migrate to other regions.

Migration from the region according to reports have continued to surge as life becomes unbearable to the mostly agricultural and fishing population there in. The effect on the degrading land triggered by the shrinking lake, on migration is just stark experts say.

“We cannot ignore the huge unemployment of especially the youths in countries of the region who are left with no choice than seek for opportunities elsewhere,” said Professor Ibrahim Goni of the University of Maiduguri.

Statistics from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), estimates that over 60 million people are likely to migrate from the region by 2020 as the water from the lake continue to shrink.

The situation has been compounded by disturbing insecurity imposed by Boko Haram whose push for a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria has left hundreds of thousand people dead since 2009.

The surge in the marauding criminal activities of Boko Haram has led to increase poverty, loss of resource opportunities and breeding conflict and political instability. “Environmental breakdown and security threats in the Lake Chad Basin region especially in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria is increasing and so we need additional efforts if we have to fight poverty, preserve peace and promote sustainable development,’’ noted Dr Fantung Wilson Yetoh ,of the Institute of Mining and Geological Research in Cameroon at the side event discussion in Dar es Salam.

Members of the Lake Chad Basin Commission however say they were leaving no stone unturned with collective efforts to intensify security especially in the fight against the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram.

“A joint security effort is working to intensify security in the region,” Fantung Wilson said.

Development experts however agree that the campaign against degraded land like the case in the Lake Chad Basin region is the responsibility of all. They warn that the poverty situation may get to unbearable levels if nations continue to procrastinate than act forthrightly.

“The prospects of a land degradation neutral world will grow dimmer if we procrastinate. But it will shine brighter each time a country joins the campaign to restore degraded land and water bodies.” said Monique Barbur, UNCCD Executive secretary, in an address during the World Environment Day on Desertification on June 17, 2016.

She advised that land degradation neutrality should be a top policy goal for every nation that values freedom and choice.

The 6th Africa Water Week, organized by African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and other development partners, seeks accordingly, to lay pathways for Africa’s drive towards achieving the SDG 6, as well as other inter-linking SDGs rooted in water resources management.

July 22, 2016

Africa Water Week: Panel Urges Increased Transparency in Water Resource Management in Africa

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
July 22, 2016

CORRUPTION has been identified as one of the biggest problems that has affected the water sector not to function as expected on the African continent.

The vice which according to Transparency International (TI) is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain is unfortunately very widespread taking many forms – the small scale corruption in bribing to get connection for which one is not entitled to or quicker.

African leaders at the opening plenary of the AMCOW General Assembly

African leaders at the opening plenary of the AMCOW General Assembly

Executive Director of Water Integrity Network (WIN), Frank van der Valk during the second day technical session on “what policy shifts are needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goals” on the sideline of the Africa Water Week conference in Dar es Salaam said the sum of the small scale corruption together amount to pretty large amount of money.

Valk says people taking wrong decisions which are geared to specific interest for themselves or groups they represent rather than trying to solve the challenges that SDGs require is common in many African countries.

“Diversion of funds for purposes that they are not intended to, the appointment of people that are not qualified for the job because they are friends and appointing wrong people have continued to hinder the water sector,” Valk says. He suggested it is timely to now have a broad initiative led by institutions such as African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) who are the major players on the continent to work on increasing integrity in African countries.

According to him African countries need capacity building at different stages both at government level and civil society organisations to help increase accountability in the sector.

Valk stressed the need for more involvement of civil society within major water programmes to ensure that those who execute the programmes are held accountable to the beneficiaries of the programme.

“We think that both governments and funders need to much more at the start of the project, include the right mechanisms to ensure the involvement of civil society and also to ensure proper financial management,” he says adding that financial management is lacking on the continent. Noting down some of the good examples of proper financial management on the continent, Valk says when proper mechanisms are in place before a project starts, positive results are usually visible.

In Burkina Faso, the building of the Ziga dam was documented where complete restructuring of the implementing organisation ONEA was carried out to ensure proper project delivery.
Kenya Water Trust is another good example of proper management because of proper mechanism in place to ensure project delivery.

He bemoaned the fact that too many people still do not enjoy their human rights to water and sanitation access and that the challenge is how to achieve it due to rampant corruption.

Water Integrity Network works with partners on the continent promoting water integrity and making sure governments take it serious as a subject.

Water integrity also develops tools to be used by governments and civil society organizations to strengthen the integrity in the organization and decision making.

Senegalese director of Environment and Sustainable Development Amadou Lamine Ndiaye said a new strategy for improving the management of water resources on the Senegal River basin has been launched. “Sharing good practices of different river basins helps to have shared interests and understanding of communities that are involved in the river basins.”

July 22, 2016

Africa Water Week: Africa Can Convert Waste Water into Useful Resource – Experts

PAMACC Africa
July 22, 2016

Scientists at the ongoing Africa Water Week have pointed out different innovative techniques which have succeeded elsewhere in the world, in which waste water can be converted into a useful resource for African countries.

“We have documented up to 150 different case studies in which waste water has been turned into a meaningful resource,” said Dr Kala Vairavamoorthy, the Practice Leader for Applied Research and Knowledge at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). “All we need is to change our perspectives, and create opportunity to do things differently,” he told participants at the AWW.

Dr Vairavamoorthy explained that flowing waste water can easily be used to rotate micro-turbines to generate hydro-electric power, and in the same energy sector, the water can be used in bio-digesters to produce biogas, which can be sold for income generation.

“Crop nutrients can also be extracted from waste water to be used for different purposes, and it can still be recycled for other purposes,” he said.

However, for this to happen, said Sarantuya Zandaryaa of UNESCO said that African countries need to put in place relevant policies to provide an enabling environment for reuse of the waste water. She gave examples of regulations in different countries, which have provided an enabling environment for companies to convert waste water into a resource. She gave an example of regulations governing the California use of waste water as a successful case study where policies have provided enabling environment for waste water use.

A farmer using sewage water on his farm in Nairobi,  Kenya

A farmer using sewage water on his farm in Nairobi, Kenya

So far, the California Water Recycling Criteria (encoded in Title 22 of the California Code of Administration) allow 43 specified uses of recycled water – including irrigation of all types of food crops. These criteria include different water quality requirements for irrigation of each type of crop; those eaten raw, those receiving processing before consumption, and those not involving any human contact before industrial processing.

However, the regulations are among the most stringent in the world and have been used as a model for many other countries’ guidelines and water reuse regulations. It is in the same regard that Zandaryaa pointed out that for such policies to work for Africa, there must be very reliable monitoring, reliable enforcement of the regulations and appropriate technology.

These regulations, said Zandaryaam, must be developed with close involvement of local communities, and there is need for capacity building at all levels, from the government moving down to the people. She said that the countries can start by improving the existing legal frameworks, but should develop guidelines for waste water reuse. In a different forum elsewhere, Dr Paramjit Singh Minhas, an Indian research scientist gave a different perspective on how waste water can be used meaningfully.

In a study titled ‘Potential of tree plantations for wastewater disposal: Long term use in Eucalyptus,’ the researchers argue that trees with high transpiration rate (‘thirsty’ trees) such as eucalyptus can be easily used to clean the environment of wastewater. The trees grown in wastewater will also produce fuel-wood and timber for income generation, and as well sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

The Eucalyptus trees have long been blamed for their ‘thirst’ for ground water, owing to their long tap roots, and there is scientific evidence that the species could dry up water bodies. According to Dr Vairavamoorthy, waste water has always been a burden particularly in Africa. But with new evidence based studies, it can now be put to use, thus supplementing the clean water, which is scarce in many African countries.

July 20, 2016

Africa Water Week: Water Security and Sanitation Must Be For All by 2030 – CSOs Insist

Our Reporter
July 20, 2016

Civil society organisations under the banner of Africa civil society Network on Water and sanitation (ANEW) have called for an ambitious roadmap to achieving sustainable development goals on water and sanitation as necessary for national development plans of African countries.

Presenting a statement to African Governments through the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), ANEW’s Doreen Wandera highlighted the urgent need to prioritise water sanitation and hygiene if nations are to achieve Africa vision 2063 of optimising resources for all Africans, leaving no one behind.

“We call upon governments to ensure that the commitments of the Ngor declaration are aligned to the national level goal 6 implementation plans, ”said Wandera.

She further challenged governments to ensure a stronger role of civil society at various levels for coordination, communication and improved accountability.

Over half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits

Over half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits

Representing WaterAid CEO Barbara Frost, Head of Region Lydia Zigomo challenged governments and stakeholders to utilise the 6th Africa Water Week to agree on a roadmap that will ensure transformational change. “It cannot be business as usual; we need to increase the pace at all levels in order to reach everyone everywhere in Africa by 2030,” remarked Zigomo.

The 6th Africa Water Week (AWW-6), organized by African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), aspires to lay the building blocks for Africa to achieve the SDG 6 as well as other inter-linking SDGs connected with water resources management. The week represents a political commitment at the highest level for creating platform to discuss and collectively seek solutions to Africa’s water and sanitation challenges.

July 19, 2016

Africa Water Week: AMCOW Wants Countries to Increase Water Budget

PAMACC Africa
July 19, 2016

The challenges for development of African water infrastructure are daunting

The challenges for development of African water infrastructure are daunting

The African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW) has called on member-countries to increase their budget for water in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on water and sanitation.

AMCOW’s Executive Secretary, Mr Bai-Mass Taal, made the call at the ongoing Africa Water Week in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Monday.

He said that there was no doubt that achieving the SDGs for water security and sanitation would require a different approach from that of the MDGs.

According to him, finance plays a major role toward meeting this goal and it is saddening to note that most country budgets relegate water and sanitation to the background.

“When you look at budgets for water in most African countries, it can never be in the top five; this is not good.

“Most leaders forget that water is a multi-sector issue; it cuts across agriculture, health, education, socio-economic issues, so we must stop this trend if we want to achieve the SDGs.”

Taal said that water was seen as non-important, but said that the trend should change.

He said that the week was a wake-up call for the region to begin to think outside the box for strategies that would help countries scale up access to water for all.

He also said to ensure secured, productive and sustainable water for all purposes as well as sanitation and hygiene, interventions were prerequisite for sustainable economic development.

Earlier, AMCOW President, Mr Amadou Faye, said that the choice of the theme, “Achieving the SDGs on Water Security and Sanitation”, was driven by the recognition to lay foundation for Africa to meet the SDGs.

He said that the “SDG 6” was interlinking with other SDGs, hence the need to place emphasis on matching commitments and plans with concrete actions.

Faye said that the outcome of the Africa Water Week would be a roadmap for developing a comprehensive plan of action from the ‘Ngor Declaration’ on water security and sanitation.

He stated that the programmes that would emanate from the plans would contribute to poverty alleviation, health improvements, social development and economic growth.

The president called for strengthened cooperation among countries with shared water resources to build stronger partnerships for the implementation of AMCOW work plan.

The 6th Africa Water Week aspires to lay the building blocks for Africa to achieve the “SDG 6’’ as well as other inter-linking SDGs connected with water resources management.

The week represents a political commitment at the highest level for creating platform to discuss and collectively seek solutions to Africa’s water and sanitation challenges.

July 19, 2016

African Ministers Call For Self-Driven Initiatives As 6th Africa Water Week Begins

PAMACC Africa
July 19, 2016

Africa is experiencing water crisis with scientists saying there is strong evidence of decreased water flow and water quality in many countries.

Scientists, researchers and drivers of water policy have also warned that continued population and economic growth, combined with climate change, could result in serious water shortages in some parts of the continent by 2025. These challenges are coming at a time many African countries are mapping pathways towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Some officials at the opening of the 6th Africa Water Week in Tanzania.

Some officials at the opening of the 6th Africa Water Week in Tanzania.

It is against this backdrop that the African water ministers attending the sixth edition of the Africa water week have called for increased self-driven and innovative approach to addressing the water challenges.

According to the ministers, the flagship water event on the continent which began today at the Julius Nyerere International conference centre in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, provides the unique opportunity to explore pathways of addressing water challenges.

“We need new ideas and self-driven approaches to addressing the issues of water in Africa,” noted Engr. Gerson H Lwenge, Tazanian minister of water and irrigation, at the opening of the conference on Monday July 18, 2016.

In a pre-conference statement, African water ministers under the auspices of African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW ) said there was a range of actions – besides investments into large inter-basin transfer schemes – that could be taken to improve the prospects for quality water supply and quality.

The President of AMCOW and Senegalese hydraulic and sanitation minister, Hon Amadou Mansour Faye, the Executive Secretary, Bai Mass Taal and other high-level Speakers at the opening of the conference emphasized the need to better address issues related to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 6 and other inter-related goals with emphasis on new approaches adapted to the African reality.

“The SDGs is all about using local initiatives by both the private sector and the government working together,” Mr Taal noted. Water resources is vital in realizing these goals,” says H.E Mwai Kibaki former President of Kenya and UNESCO Special Envoy on Water in Africa at the conference plenary.

The opening session of the 6th Africa Water Week in Tanzania

The opening session of the 6th Africa Water Week in Tanzania

With the theme “achieving the SDGs on Water Security and Sanitation,” the 6th Africa Water Week aspires to lay the building blocks for Africa to achieve the SDG-6 as well as other inter-linking SDGs connected with water resources management and improved sanitation service delivery. It also represents the quest in the continent to place emphasis on matching commitments and plans with concrete actions with impact on the ground.

It highlights Africa’s undaunted focus on achieving the Agenda 2063, the continent’s global strategy to optimize use of Africa’s resources for the overall benefit of all. The four sub themes of the AWW-6 revolve round achieving universal and equitable access to water and sanitation for all, and ensuring sustainable water resources management and climate resilience. Others are strengthening productive waste water management and improved water quality improving policy, financing and monitoring.

Part of the desired outcome for the conference is the adoption of a roadmap for developing a comprehensive action plan for Africa aimed at translating high-level commitments including N’gor Declaration on Water Security and Sanitation into implementation at country, sub-regional and continental levels.

The biennial water conference brings over 1000 participants from governments, regional institutions, international partners, the private sector, the scientific community, civil society and the media from all over the world.

July 16, 2016

Botswana: SADC to Launch a Regional Humanitarian Appeal for Millions hit by El Niño-induced Drought

WaterSan Perspective
July 16, 2016

Climate change as a result of global warming continues to cause havoc in various parts of the world, drying up farmlands that livestock used to depend on.

Climate change as a result of global warming continues to cause havoc in various parts of the world, drying up farmlands that livestock used to depend on.

The Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Lt. General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of Botswana is expected to declare a Regional Disaster and launch a Regional Appeal for Humanitarian and Recovery Support amounting to US$2.7 billion.

This is in response to the devastating El-Niño-induced drought which has affected an estimated 40 million people across the SADC region, and out of this figure, more than 23 million are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

The event is scheduled to take place at Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC), Botswana on Tuesday 26th July 2016.

The Appeal is a formal request to the International Community to provide assistance to affected Member States, and it is meant to complement the response efforts at individual Member States level, as a lot has been done by the Countries.

Five Member States, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe have declared national drought emergencies.

South Africa has declared a drought emergency in 8 of the country’s 9 provinces, while Mozambique declared a 90-day institutional red alert for some southern and central areas.

July 16, 2016

Investigation: Anxiety in Kaduna Local Communities Following Fresh Cases of River Blindness

Mohammad Ibrahim
July 16, 2016

There was anxiety in Kaduna State, Northwest part of Nigeria following outbreak of fresh cases of River blindness in local communities of the state, particularly southern part of the state.

Facts gathered at Department of health, Kajuru Local Government Area secretariat indicated that 14 districts were affected by river blindness in the Local government area alone.

Reports from the areas showed that many people within the affected communities have already gone blind while hundreds are suffering from eye infections that may lead to blindness.

The affected districts are Maro ward 1 district Maro District, Idon ward – 2 districts Idon and Iri districts, Tantatu ward – 1 district Tantatu. Afogoh ward – 1 Afogoh district, Kufana ward – 2 Kufana and Angwan Aku districts.

Others are Rimau ward – 1 Rimau district, Kalla ward – 1 Kalla district, Kajuru ward – 4 districts, Kyamara, Dawaki, Buda and districts, Kasuwan Magani ward – 1 Dustsen Gaiya district, Others include Ungwan Makama village in Robo and Angwan Fada and Angwan Aku in Fadama kuroro districts.

All these districts are within Iri districts axis which is one of the areas with high prevalent cases of river blindness in the Local government.

This discovery followed a month investigation carried out by a team of five investigative journalists including our Correspondent in the villages affected.

The team discovered that River Iri which served as a source of water to the communities within Iri Station and Makoro districts was said to be the breeding place for tsetse flies which caused river blindness within Iri village.

Outbreak of fresh cases of River blindness in local communities of Kaduna state has left several blind

Outbreak of fresh cases of River blindness in local communities of Kaduna state has left several blind

According to findings the villagers got bitten by tsetse flies whenever they go to the river to fetch water and the flies carried a warm that caused blindness to those bitten.

Lack of access to clean water has always being the problem of the communities around Iri with population of over 100 thousand.

Findings further showed that villagers using water from river Iri are from Hayin Sarki, Sabon Gida, Inkirmi, Karmai, Makoro , Gadan Malam Mamman among others.

People of hayin Sarki a village across River Iri Bridge built by World Bank still fetch water from the river known for spreading the tsetse flies despite the risk involved.

The villagers claimed they have no access to clean water so they still go to the river to fetch water while leaders within the community expressed fear because the flies still breed around the riverside.

An Elderly woman, Yawo Yuguda and mother of two children explained how she got blind years back.

” I got blind years back and till date nobody tell me the reason for my blindness, I even went to Kafanchan hospital for treatment they couldn’t explained to me the main reason for the blindness, so I took it as my destiny,” she said.

Alisabaltu Zankwa is another blind woman within Iri village who said she got blind 30 years back. ” Well, when people started going blind in the village nobody came to explain the reason behind it, we were only left to go looking for help. Mine started like a joke with itching before I later lost my sight completely,” she said.

60 year old Abdulmumini Ali said his eye problem started 3 years ago. “I started having this eye problem three years ago, it started with itching, sometimes I feel as if I’m being bitten inside.

” My elder brother already lost his sight and the problem is the same. It all started last three years. We know something was wrong in the village but we don’t know what it’s,” he said.

Village Head of Hausa Community in the village 65 year old Malam Garba lost complete sight of his left eye.

“I can’t see with my left eye as I talked to you now and this problem just started last year. I don’t know the cause but it began with inching, now the right eye too is having problem which is making me worried because it seems soon I will lose my sight completely.

“The last time I could remember some people came and fumigated river Iri was in the 70s. Because they said the problem was the river. We were told that there were tsetse flies in the riverside,” he said.

Paul Sanda a retired Soldier said he returned to the village with his family in 3 years ago and soon started losing his sight.

“When I was in the city my eyes were fine but since I returned home after my retirement my eyes started having problems. That was in 2003. I visited National Eye centre where I was operated upon but still I’m not seeing clearly,” he said.

80 year old Doma Obandoma said he lost his sight completely in 2012. ” The problem is some of us don’t go to hospital because we are poor and we don’t know the real cause of the blindness in the community but people said it’s has to do with the river, We just need help,” he said.

65 year old Alex Danladi said hers began pain started 5 years ago. ” It began with itching before I went to hospital once and they gave me drugs but still the pains and itching still continues. My daughter too 18 year old have started complaining about same eye itching last year.

“The truth is before we moved from city to village we never had this symptoms. So, we were all worried because we don’t know the cause,” she said.

District Head of Iri Peter -A-Magaji who was caught unaware by the investigative journalists expressed worried over the re-emergence of the flies in the area.

“Well, your visit made us to realize the gravity of the issue. My people came out in their numbers to explain that they are going blind and we suspected river Iri.

” The river was fumigated years back which helped killed the flies but now I heard that the flies are resurfacing which means something urgent need to be done.

“We are appealing to government to help provide us with boreholes in Iri Station district because River Iri is the only source of water for this village and those around us. The river sometimes get dried off but people still go there to dig in search of water.

“I’m afraid that people from Hayin Sarki and negbouring villages still fetch water from the dried river despite the risk involved. I think if the local government can provide us with a borehole it will go a long way in addressing the water problem,” he said.

The district head also appealed to government for a frequent fumigation of the river to control the flies.

part of River Iri

Part of River Iri

The team also discovered that government need to wake up to its responsibility in terms of provision of health care service delivery in the state because as it’s now only Sight Saver an NGO that is providing mectizan to victims of river blindness in the state.

According to budget document of Kaduna State, Sight Savers spends over 11 million naira annually for provision of mectizan and other services in the State.

This implies if the NGO decides to withdraw it intervention the situation will be disastrous for the villagers and the state.

Programme Officer of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) at the Health Department of Kajuru Local government area, Mr. Francis Habakuk said last year, in November, the received a delegation of some visitors from United States, U.S in collaboration with NPHCDA in Abuja.

He said Communities visited by the Team included Rafin Kunu and Angwan Fada all under Kajuru but Iri not included. They were led here by our Coordinator, Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTD, Kaduna State.

“We ask the Community members to report cases of river blindness to us, but they don’t report to us. They just sit at home.

“Since I assume office in the last five years, it’s only old cases of river blindness that we have on record, except for the one new case M&E reported in Agwala in Afogoh district – Afogoh,” he said.

As It’s now Hundreds are going blind in the area. Why? Because the communities are neglected, there is a gap that needs to be filled between government and people in rural areas.

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