Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
A total of 1,200 households are to benefit from the special safe potable water programme under the Dodo River Biosand Filter Project designed to address the problem of access to safe drinking water in most rural communities in the Niger Delta.
This was revealed during the recent Stakeholders’ Planning Meeting and Community Engagement held at the PIND appropriate technology enabled (ATED) Demonstration Centre, Egbokodo-Itsekiri, Warri, Delta State.
The coordinator of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme of PIND, Mr. Timi Kiakubu, explained that the benefits of the biosand filter include its simplicity and affordability as a means of making water safe for drinking and the elimination of numerous diseases often associated with the common sources of water in the oil-rich region.
Moreover, biosand filter guarantees improved health of users as it reduces WASH-related diseases as well as the rate of indoor air pollution (IAP) associated with wood and charcoal fuel commonly used to boil water for drinking, he said.
Money that is regularly expended daily or weekly on firewood and charcoal for boiling water, clean water in bottles and packets or provide medicare, would be saved, Kiabuku further said.
Income could also be earned by communities through ‘carbon credits’ as Biosand filter leads to reduction in, or elimination of, carbon emissions associated with firewood, charcoal fuel and fossil fuel used to boil water.
The project, which is expected to spread to numerous communities across the Niger Delta in due course, got a lot of impetus from the Rotary Club of Oxbow Lake, Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital having been tracking the development of interest in biosand filters for use in riverine communities from inception.
Nevertheless, the key partners driving the biosand water filter project include Rotary Club of Oxbow Lake Yenagoa; Rotary District 9140, Nigeria; Rotary Club of Parkdale, High Park, Toronto, Canada; Rotary District 7070, Canada as well as Dodo River Communities of Bayelsa. The Partnership Initiative in Niger Delta (PIND) is providing the technical and some measure of financial assistance with the support of Chevron.
On the essence of the programme, the WASH Coordinator said, “The objectives of this project is to provide clean drinkable water through the installation of 1,200 Biosand Filters in each household in the five communities located in Dodo River Communities Rural Development Association, namely Amatu I, Amatu II, Bilabiri I, Bilabiri II and Bisangbene in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. The project will also provide training on use and maintenance of filters, safe water storage, hygiene and sanitation.”
THISDAY learnt that the oil-city of Warri, which is accessible by water, is the nearest community to the Dodo River communities though in neighbouring Bayelsa State.
Participants at the forum, drawn from NGOs (including Rotary International), the communities, PIND and the media, brainstormed extensively on the essence and history of the project as well their expected role in organising the needed community awareness campaign on the use of the biosand water treatment technique.
Available statistics show that 65 per cent of the over 30 million people in the Niger Delta live in villages and generally rural communities without access to safe potable water, therefore resorting to unhygienic methods of ‘purifying’ polluted water for drinking.