Hope Spring Water in collaboration with 11 civil society organisations in enugu state under a coalition called #ClaimYourWaterRight and working to promote water accountability and accessibility in Enugu state held a One-Day water stakeholders roundtable workshop on March 17, 2021. The theme of the workshop was Human Right to Water and Accountability in Enugu State Water Sector. The workshop was aimed at engaging government, civil society organisations and other private groups and individuals as stakeholders in water issues to share ideas, analyse the issues, strategise and proffer sustainable solutions to the perennial water challenges in Enugu state.
L-R : Comr. Ogene Ogbodo, Executive Director; Towncrier Initiative Africa, Mr. Temple Chukwuemeka Oraeki, #ClaimYourWaterRights Campaign Coordinator and Country Director, Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation; Mrs Amaka Nweke, Programme Director, Global Society for Anti-corruption (GSAC); Mr. Daniel Ukwu, Executive Director, Daniel Ukwu Leadership Foundation; Sitting L-R : Engr. Christopher Ogbu, Coordinator, Small Town Unit, Enugu State Ministry of Water Resources; Mr. Terkimbi Tom, Enugu State Programme Lead, WaterAid Nigeria
Participants at the workshop include government representatives from the state ministry of water resources, Nigeria Environmental Society, NEWSAN, Tanker Drivers Association, Water Aid Nigeria, Rotary International Enugu, community leaders, various media outlets and representatives of other WASH-focused CSOs.
Country Representative, Hope Spring Water, who also double as #ClaimYourWaterRights Campaign Lead, Mr. Temple Oraeki, provided an overview and expectations from the workshop. In his opening remark, he reiterated that the workshop is solution-oriented with the target of coming up with actionable steps to take in addressing water poverty in the state. He urged participants to share their challenges and proffer solutions on how every stakeholder can collectively work together to address identified challenges.
Mr. Temple Chukwuemeka Oraeki, #ClaimYourWaterRights Campaign Coordinator and Country Director, Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation
Accountability in water sector in Enugu state:
In the face of perennial water poverty in Enugu State, despite several interventions by International Development Partners, the need to hold the government and all water service providers in Enugu state, accountable, has become more imperative now more than ever before. Participants agree that government and civil society organisations need to show more actionable commitment to water issues in the state.
WaterAid Nigeria, represented by the state programme lead, Mr. Terkimbi Tom Water Aid said the organization works to support the state and communities to improve WASH status in the state by providing direct services such as borehole facilities to improve water situation in communities; influencing government to review water sector laws and WASH policies through advocacy. In addressing the issue of Sustainability of WaterAid projects in communities, Mr. Tom stated that the organization employs sustainability plans of building community management structures which allows communities to pay a token for water, which in turn is used for maintaining the structures.
The Representative of the Ministry of Water Resources, Christopher Ogbu, who is also the Coordinator of the Small Town Unit (STU) in the Ministry of Water Resources, emphasized that Water Corporation is in charge of water supply in Enugu Metropolis while Enugu State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (ENRUWASSA) is in charge of water supply to rural areas. The Small Town Unit (STU), which is in the process of being established as an Agency, is in charge of water supply to small towns (Areas with population between 5,000 and 20,000). In chatting a way forward, he reiterated that the Enugu State Water Bill, which is still with the State House of Assembly, if passed into law, will make “things” flow.
In the course of deliberation, participants at the workshop agreed that the water situation in Enugu has become a perennial problem and requires immediate attention to address the challenge and save Enugu people the hardship.
- Water Vendors and pricing: Representative of the water tankers association, Mr. Ifeatu Igbodike, noted that the union was actually created to complement the effort of the government and taking water to places and areas where government water facilities are not present or not functional. Unfortunately, in the course of discussions, the union was identified as one of the key challenges affecting the water situation in the state. Mr. Ifeatu noted that the association does not have the authority to regulate or control the activities of tanker drives in the state. This explains why individuals or groups of water vendors can fix their pricing without considering the effect on the consumers. He also noted that more than 60% of tanker drivers in the state do not belong to the association and so it becomes difficult to coordinate or regulate their activities.
He added that 95% of water used in Enugu is supplied from Nineth Mile which is a huge problem as the road connecting from 9th mile to Enugu Metropolis is dilapidated and causes frequent damage to water tankers / trucks.
- The Enugu state Water Bill: The Enugu state water bill, which has been on the floor of the state Assembly for almost a year, is yet to be signed into law. It was however noted that this bill, if signed into law can help to regulate water supply activities and solve most of the problems that are bedeviling the water sector in the state. It was strongly recommended that the Government therefore, must get beyond the declaration of “state of emergency” in the water sector and take actionable steps to arrest the situation. Mr. Temple Oraeki, emphasized that it’s high time the Enugu State Water Bill was given emergency action, considering that the Government has declared a state of emergency in the state water sector.
- The Media: The media is an accountability tool relevant and critical to the survival of any modern society. The participants noted that the media also have a great role to play in ensuring that water is available and affordable in the state but unfortunately, they have been lagging in supporting the cause to hold the government, at all levels, accountable.
- Corruption: Tanker drivers in the state have been insensitive about the people they serve. Participants remarked that the extortion has to stop if we must make progress.
- Security: Water facilities in the state are mostly in danger of being vandalised. But this is so because the security structure around the facilities is mostly compromised or ill-equipped to effectively safeguard the facilities.
At the end of the deliberations, participants agreed that concrete steps need to be taken to address the water situation in the state. Some of the recommendations made include:
1) Awareness: A large number of citizens don’t even know that there’s a water bill on the floor of the State Assembly. CSOs should engage in massive sensitisation to get the people informed about the bill and the change it can bring in the water sector in Enugu state.
2). Prioritise the water bill: it was noted that the Enugu water bill has long overstayed and need to be passed into law to help regulate unhealthy activities in the sector. It is time to prioritise passage of the bill. Civil society organization and private individuals must collaborate and deploy creative strategy and advocacy to pressure lawmakers to speed up the passage of the bill.
3) Rehabilitation of Ugwuonyeama road, which connects 9th Mile to Enugu Metropolis: As a quick-fix to the exorbitant cost of water supply to residents of Enugu State, the participants recommended that the state government should be implored to fix the road, as a matter of urgency.
4) Participants recommended that the Water Tankers Association reconsider its mode of operations and create an enabling environment that will attract tanker drivers in the state to register as members of the association. It was also advised that the association be restructured in a way that it can exercise control over tanker drivers and punish erring members. This will restore consumers confidence and sanity in the system.
5) Get involved: Participants noted that the effort to improve the water situation in Enugu must be an inclusive one, if we are to achieve significant results. It’s time to shift the blame away from the government and begin to take responsibility by collaborating, joining pressure groups that engage government and stakeholders meaningfully for a better result.
People must get involved. Even when the government provides the facilities, the people need to take ownership of the projects and ensure protection and sustainability.
6) Advocacy: Civil society organizations are advised never to get tired in engaging stakeholders and government authorities, to ensure that the state water bill is passed. A sustained advocacy strategy is needed now more than ever.
Finally, participants were unanimous in the decision to collaborate more and inspire a sustained advocacy approach that will ensure that the Enugu Water Bill is passed as soon as possible.
Moreso, it was agreed that the Tanker drivers association must be restructured and expanded to accommodate more members and operate with a regulatory framework that ensures control and sanity in the system.
All hands were called to be on deck to take responsibility and hold the government accountable as we work to achieve available and affordable water in Enugu state.
L-R : Comr. Ogene Ogbodo, Executive Director; Towncrier Initiative Africa, Mr. Temple Chukwuemeka Oraeki, #ClaimYourWaterRights Campaign Coordinator and Country Director, Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation; Mrs Amaka Nweke, Programme Director, Global Society for Anti-corruption (GSAC); Mr. Daniel Ukwu, Executive Director, Daniel Ukwu Leadership Foundation.