Eromosele Abiodun reveals how the International Breweries Plc is proving clean potable water to communities across Nigeria
Many communities often have to contend with water-related problems because of unavailability of potable water.
The occasional outbreak of cholera, diarrhea, river-blindness, guinea-worm, typhoid fever, dysentery and other water-borne diseases in some communities across Nigeria that lack access to clean potable water remains a major contributing factor to high infant and maternal mortality.
The same can be said of the sleepy town of Ilase-Ijesha, Osun State, a community that is about 20 minutes drive from Oshogbo, the state capital.
The leaders of the town have, on several occasion expressed their concerns to the authorities on the perennial water shortages, which have forced them to source water from unhygienic sources and to the detriment of the health of the community. Relief however came their way with the donation of a solar-powered borehole system, by International Breweries Plc. Led by the traditional ruler, the community trouped out in their numbers to witness the formal handing over of the borehole.
A report by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, showed that over 57 million Nigerians lack access to clean water. Many rural communities and urban ones as well access water from polluted sources like rivers, streams, ponds, wells, and canals, etc, which they use for cooking, washing, bathing and drinking. Only about 26.5 percent of the population use improved drinking water sources and sanitation facilities. Instructively, Nigeria is among the five countries in the world contributing to about one-third of the global under-five mortality rate traceable to the consumption of unsafe water. Provision of safe, clean water would radically change this narrative.
Research has shown that this problem is peculiar to many African communities who have had to rely on wells, streams and other unhealthy sources for their water supply. In addition to water challenges, there is the issue of inappropriate sanitary facilities, which encourages open defecation that one way or the other, end up in this same rivers and streams, where water is sourced by the communities. The effect of this is the high rate of diseases that is reported in the primary health centres that are, in most cases, ill-equipped to handle large number of cases at the same time.
Speaking with excitement at the inauguration of the borehole, Akintoye Olufemi, a resident of Logbara, Orile-Imo, said the people are very excited and are grateful for the facility, which has been servicing them even before it was formally handed over to the people by International Breweries. According to Olufemi, their problem began after they were resettled by the Ogun State government from their original hometown where they were displaced due to the dualisation of the Abeokuta-Sagamu inter-change expressway. Once they were resettled, they discovered water was lacking in the community, which has caused a lot of health challenges.
So bad was the water situation that they relied on nature during the rainy season by storing rain water. At other times, they trekked long distances to streams or wells to get water during the dry season. Being a peace-loving people, they continued to hope that one day the situation would change for the better. It was against this backdrop that International Breweries Plc, a member of the largest brewer in the world, ABInbev, through its CleanerWorld initiative, undertook to provide a solar-powered borehole in Logbara and a number of communities in some southwestern states in the country.
While inadequacy or unavailability of potable water is a problem in some communities, there are others for whom dysfunctional or unavailable health care facilities are a pressing problem. . Functional primary healthcare centres are critical to the health and well-being of every community because of the important role they play in facilitating accessibility to affordable healthcare. Such facilities are meant to be the bedrock of public health services in the country and are usually the first point of contact with health services and typically provide a point of entry to the entire health system for the people at the grassroots. Research also shows that access to primary health services is linked to better health outcomes, including improvements in self-rated health and a reduction in all-cause mortality. In 1978, Nigeria, along with other World Health Organisation’s member countries adopted the declaration institutionalising primary health centres as the basic structural and functional units of public healthcare delivery systems.
Spokesperson of International Breweries Plc, Otunba Michael Daramola, reiterated that water is critical not only to the survival but also the health and wellbeing of every community. As a socially responsible organization that is very concerned about the health and well-being of its communities, International Breweries PLC, he said had undertaken to help provide succor in the core area of water to these communities. He added that this key focus of his organisation was indeed in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN which emphasize ensuring a sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Unfortunately, however, most primary health centres in the country today lack the capacity to provide essential healthcare services, particularly due to poor infrastructure, lack of adequate equipment, insufficient of essential drugs, poor distribution of health workers and inadequate electricity to power the available equipment.
Under its BetterWorld initiatives, International Breweries renovated the Esa-Odo primary health centre and in addition, donated hospital equipment to the centre to aid caregivers in providing better care for pregnant women. In addition, it donated a generator to power the centre.
“At International Breweries, we strive to impact every community where we operate and make it better than we met it. As a result, our projects are designed to be beneficial to the whole community and this is the essence of our give-back policy as encapsulated in our CleanerWorld and BetterWorld programmes, comprising water, health, culture and economic empowerment,” Otunba Daramola said during the handover ceremony.
At the commemoration of the 2018 World Toilet Day, the federal government made a declaration and unveiled plans to stop open defecation, which has caused numerous health challenges due to water contamination. According to findings by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, statistics show that more than 120 million Nigerians do not have access to decent toilet facilities while about 40 million others practice open defecation and this has contributed to the death of children under five years old, who have been infected by water-borne diseases.
In support of the federal government’s declaration, International Breweries adopted the Omi-Asoro Community Elementary School, Omi-Asoro community in Osun State. Before now, toilet facilities were inexistent in the school. The organization built a new toilet facility for the school. On hand to receive executives of International Breweries were staff and pupils of the school, led by the school headmistress, Mrs. Abosede Asaolu, as well as officers of the Community Based School Management Committee, CBSMB, SUBEB and Parents Teachers Association, led by its chairman, Mr. Solomon Arowolo.
There was great dancing and singing as the PTA Chairman; Mr. Arowolo, after giving a brief history of how the school came to be established, highlighted how open defecation has been one of its major concerns. According to him, “This new facility donated by International Breweries is indeed well appreciated and we are now happy that our children will no longer need to do their business in the open.”
International Breweries, through its CleanerWorld and BetterWorld programmes, has been touching lives in communities across the country and these newly commissioned projects mark
the beginning of its 2019 corporate social investment drive. Projects commissioned so far are solar-powered boreholes in Ilase-Ijesa, in Osun State, Logbara, Orile-Imo and Obafemi-Owode in Ogun State and Onireke in Oyo state, sanitary facilities in Omi-Asoro, Ilesa in Osun state and a renovated primary health centre, with equipment, in Esa-Odo community in Osun State.
“Solving the water and sanitation problem should be a collective effort and at International Breweries, we are also glad to support the efforts of the government, which is why our corporate social investment is geared towards providing a cleaner and better world for our communities,” Otunba Daramola added.