By Olawale Elekolusi
The people of Umuachi and Ekposhi communities, both in Igbo Eze North L.G.A of Enugu State are at increased risk of disease because of severe lack of water, sanitation systems and access to basic hygiene.
Access to clean water and adequate sanitation has been a challenging issue to the inhabitants of the area. Due to the unavailability of clean water sources and poor sanitation most of the inhabitants of the communities are threatened with the spread of diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera and this has led to the degenerating situation in the area.
Inhabitants of the area who made the disclosure during a recent media visits to the communities, revealed that the problem of portable water supply keeps many children out school and from playing, depriving them of the well-being and education necessary to become healthy adults.
According to Nzeh Abugu Moses, a cabinet member of Umuachi community, the problems of poor water supply and sanitation often leave most women and children on queues for several hours and those that cannot endure are forced to travel long miles in search for alternative source of water, which may not be fit for drinking.
He explained that many people have died in the area due to cholera which is as a result of absence of safe water and toilet facilities.
“About four people have died of cholera this year.
He said most people in the area rely on water supplied by mobile watertankers. “Most families have to spend at least 8,000 weekly on water. This is more than many vulnerable families can afford. In addition, tankers often supply water of poor or unknown quality and in limited quantities.
“We are in dire need of water in this community, for about three or four years now, we have been having the problem of water, we use to get water from Amaode and other neighboring communities.
He also lamented that Umuachi has been without electricity for the about 12 years.
Abugu therefore, appealed to the government to urgently come to their aid by providing toilet facilities and potable water for the inhabitants of the area
On her part, Mrs. Ali Theresa stated that the problem of water and sanitation have poised a lot of challenges to the people in the area.
She opined that task of collecting water falls largely on women and children and their journey to collect water is long, tiring and often dangerous.
“Children do not go to school in the community due to lack of water; they will have to wait until there is enough water to wash their school uniforms. the light of this, mothers are prevented from domestic work and most children are kept away from school.
Another member of the community, Mrs. Ali Theresa said the problem of lack of water and sanitation prevents mothers from working and lifting their families out of poverty.
Speaking on open defecation, she said “we usually go to bush so as a result of this when you go to bush at night because we don’t have light here maybe a snake is hereby it will just bite you. We also contract many disease as a result of open defecation.
According to Mr. Basil Onu, people in the community trek for about tow hours to get water.
He explained that the only source of water in the community was from water tankers with comes to the area twice a week, while adding “we don’t even know if the water is good.
Onu remarked that people in the community who are predominantly farmers also practice open defecation because of the high cost of building toilets.
Ali Benedict who’s is a trader lamented that the town which is made of six villages does not have any functional source of water.
“People contract many diseases because of lack of water to flush their toilets after using. Not everybody in the community can afford to build toilet.
“We want to the government to provide good roads and electricity; most importantly, we want the government to provide portable water, because we are suffering from many diseases caused by lack of water,” he said.
Mrs. Idoko Ngozi, a trader in Ekposhi community, remarked “we don’t have any single source of water in Ekposhi community, the only we get water to from the neighboring villages. We have made several effort to contact the people in government on the to alleviate our suffering by providing us with portable water, but up till now, nothing has been done.
“We go through a lot in trying to get water for our domestic use, we don’t do what ever we have to do as at when due.
Lending his voice, Isac Ossai complained “we get our water from neighboring communities like Ogrute, the journey is about 4 kilometers from here.
He explained that the is was no pipe bourne water in the whole Ekposhi community, while adding that he spends a lot of money to buy water from water tankers.
Ossai stated that successive governments had promised to provide water to the community without fulfilling their promise.
In addition, the Social Mobilization Officer, WASH Unit, Igbo Eze North L.G.A, Enugu state, Mr. Omeife George explained ” you can see for your self the type of suffering some of our communities are going through. Some do not have portable water, electricity. You yourself can tell the government what you have seen.
He noted that the role of the WASH unit is to sensitize communities on the importance of sanitation and teaching the bad effect of open defecation.
“The WASH unit has little to do; our own is to sensitize the community, know their problem and report back to government for intervention