Residents of Bentere community...smile at last
Over a decade now, the people of Bentere community in Kwami Local Government Area of Gombe State, Nigeria, have suffered a common fate; a fate that has led to many of the inhabitants wondering what fortunes they have. They do not have portable water and therefore have resorted to unprotected slow running streams and wells.
The community, though known for its agrarian activities and to have shown they are their brother’s keepers, looking after themselves and offering assistance whenever it is needed, have however been exposed to communicable diseases that threaten the fabric of their lives.
So it was a great relief when respite came through the intervention of Care for Life Mission – a nongovernmental organisation and grantee of the TY Danjuma Foundation.
The Care for Life Mission with the support of the TY Danjuma Foundation has been able to rehabilitate the only water pump in the community, which has been left in non-functional state for decades.
Members of the community could not hide their joy as they ran, this time not to the stream, but to the borehole to fetch more life saving water.
Sadly, thousands of people around the world still do not have access to portable water. Death toll from water borne diseases like Cholera, Diarrhoea and Typhoid fever contributes a sizeable portion to mortality rate in Nigeria. Coupled with high rate of poor sanitation in so many homes and communities, children most times are worst affected.
The importance of water in developing local communities globally is of paramount interest because it contributes to healthy communities. Strategically, provision of safe water will contribute to socio-economic growth in the long run.
In view of this, the TY Danjuma Foundation recently went into partnership with other organisations on the Safe Water for Africa (SWA) Project. The SWA is a Global Environmental Technology Foundation initiative spearheaded by the Water Health International. The TYDF committed an initial $250,000.00, which forms part of the Foundation’s contribution to the project.
The Project Coordinator of Care for Life Mission, Mr. Placidus Onwuka said the intervention programmes in Gombe could not have come at a better time than this.
“Really, the situations we met on ground in some of these communities are pathetic. Imagine people forced to drink water that has colour, visibly infected, all because they have no option, but for the intervention of the TY Danjuma Foundation programmes on provision of portable water and sanitation. It was a great relief for people in the community” Onwuka said.
The water provision project has so far been implemented in Kaltungo, Kwami, Akko and Biliri Local Government Areas of Gombe State. On the success of the projects so far, Onwuka said it has been due to the participatory approach used by the organisation.
“We do not just think for the people, we ask them what they want. Through the participatory learning approach, we were able to identify the problem and that is the need to rehabilitate boreholes which have been abandoned for decades and also drill new ones” he said.
Aside provision of water, hundreds of jobs has been created by the rehabilitation and provision of new water pumps in these communities.
“It is unique to know that we are actually killing several birds with one stone. Our findings show that part of the reasons why the water pumps get moribund is because there were no technicians to repair them whenever they get faulty. So part of the long-term sustenance for the project is to train interested members of the community on skills for repairing the pumps. So as they make money from their services, they improve the lives of their neighbours” Onwuka revealed.
This approach has promoted ownership, strengthened community initiatives and reduced dependence on external sources while sustaining the intervention and its impact.
On the overall benefit of the project, Onwuka said its gains are too many to be mentioned. “The support from the TYDF has really been magnanimous. The sufferings of the people in getting portable water have been reduced considerably. Water-related diseases have been drastically reduced and the well-being of people in these communities improved at a geometric ratio”.
“As at now, 32 abandoned hand pump-fitted boreholes have been directly rehabilitated in 27 villages in 12 communities of 3 LGAs by the project and over 70 abandoned and non-functional hand pumps rehabilitated in 5 LGAs. Also, 48 hand pump maintenance artisans now have skills on Community/Village Level Operation and Management of hand pump-fitted boreholes” Onwuka revealed.
For the communities-beneficiaries, TY Danjuma Foundation has done more than just providing water for them. To them, the gesture of the Foundation has brought them a new lease of life. For 78–year-old Mallam Adamu Kadiri, the Jauro of Lasale in Blliri LGA, the intervention of the water project was a precious gift.
“I pray that God rewards you (TYDF) for efforts made to fix this hand pump. It has been abandoned for years. I was maintaining it until I could not continue due to the cost. You did not only come with new parts but also flushed out all the dirty water and fixed it with all new parts.
You have trained our people on how to maintain the pump and even gave us maintenance tools and spare parts. Now, it works better than before. Thank you so much for this, I pray God gives me the ability to visit General TY Danjuma to thank him. I don’t know what tribe he belongs to or his religion, but be he a Christian, Muslim or even a pagan, I would want to meet with him to thank him”, Kadiri said.
Also, Hajiya Fati Buba, Leader of Water Sanitation and Hygiene Community (WASHCOM), Women Wing in Bentere Community, Kwami LGA, Gombe State expressed her satisfaction at the development.