#ClaimYourWaterRights has been making a series of efforts toward alleviating water poverty in Enugu state to increase water production in the state. The former director of the state ministry of water resources Engineer Fidelis Okeke was invited to speak and state water projects and how to harness different water sources to increase water production in the state.
Can you tell us some of the things you have discovered in the Enugu water sector that made you champion this course with other CSOs?
Temple: People and stakeholders have been engaged to know their plight and water provision in Enugu State. It was realised that the main challenge by duty bearers was low water production from the state source. Groundwater is difficult to get due to the topography of the State however we thought about how surface water could be harnessed. The director of the State ministry of water resources will shed more light on how to increase water production in the state by harnessing different water sources including the abandoned ones.
What are the sources of water supply for the people of Enugu metropolis?
Engr Fidelis: The geology needs to be looked at first we have what we call Mkpuru shales in geologic parlance in Enugu metropolis they can contain water but they won’t be able to
release this water when it is needed. This made borehole construction in Enugu metropolis difficult. nature has a way of balancing things, if there is no groundwater, it gives you surface Water. Previously in Enugu, the major source of water was from Ekulu works and Iva spring, overtime the discharge from the coal mine shaft made the cost of treatment high which informed the decision to have other sources which brought about Ajali and 9thmile crash program.
Ajali a surface water scheme is manmade and overtime the facilities began to go bad with a reduction in the designed production capacity due to poor maintenance. There are chances of improving the recoverable volume from it by constructing a quality dam, they are likely to get more water. The 9th-mile crash program had 12 boreholes sunk in Ajali sand site, known to produce the best quality of water in Enugu state, but because of poor maintenance, those 12 boreholes went bad Overtime. In Oji river, we have about 8 boreholes, this source is also not properly harnessed.
Considering when these projects were set up and the population at that time compared to now that there has been a massive influx of people, has there been any plan of expansion to boost the capacity of these sources?
Engr Fidelis: Measures has been put in place for system expansion. In 2014, a consultant was engaged to do a network expansion design for the metropolitan which was done and concluded. There was a proposal to have reservoirs in some spots to increase water supply, that was thrown into the shelf.
A proposal to increase water supply from a source called Iyioku was made, the government did a lot of design to capture it but it is inactive. Talking of the Akwuke source, we had shallow wells when the scheme was conceived, to supply water to areas around Garki, Army barracks, etc. It was working at a time but over time it stopped working due to erosion and poor maintenance.
When the time came to increase supply, the federal government identified a spot uphill at Ngwo, that was meant to produce about 30,000 cubic metres, the federal government did a lot of work but it was abandoned. A review was done in 2013 to determine the cost of completing the work, we had less than 2 billion nairas to complete the outstanding work, again it is inactive.
A water scheme the federal government started in Amechi Idodo has been abandoned. There are a lot of potential sources to increase production, however, the problem is implementation.
Are there plans by the federal government to ensure most of these projects they commence in states are sustained and monitored to ensure they serve the purpose for which they were put up?
Engr. Fidelis: Yes, there are plans. There is PEWASH, a number of states benefits from that approach and Enugu is yet to key into it. The major problem we have with federal government projects are that the state does not complete them. There should be an investment plan by identifying these projects and their status and plan on what to do since the federal government is working on intervention.
Do you think the state government has done enough to ensure that the efforts of the private sector are complemented to ensure sustained water provision at the community level?
Engr. Fidelis: It has been discussed that the government is not putting structures in place that can guarantee intervention by the private sector’’. Until the water sector law of the state is put in place, There can hardly be a private person that will invest in the sector and be sure of his investment. If regulation is not in place, any private individual taking up that challenge is taking a big risk.
With the declaration of a state of emergency in water, how come the water bill hasn’t been passed?
Engr. Fidelis: there are limits to what we can do. Some of us have tried to agitate. The good thing is that we have good notable NGOs around, just like Hope Spring Water, it is their duty at this point to rise up and advocate to the challenge duty bearers, maybe the house of assembly does not know the implications.
What’s your take on what the caller said, “sincerity”?
Engr. Fidelis: She has been passionate about the issue of WASH in Enugu state and beyond. The problem is we need enough government commitment to this issue.
Do you think there is a level of sabotage to this because despite the effort of the state government?
Mr Temple: A government that wants water project to work in Enugu will make it work, sabotage or not. To address sabotage, what you need to do is strengthen your institutional system and organizational structure, let people know what they are supposed to do and be held accountable when they don’t do that. When these are put in place the issue of sabotage will be minimized to the barest minimum.
What do you think is the way forward?
Engr. Fidelis: If there are no defined rules, there will be continuous overlap. The government needs to rise up and regulate the activities on the provision of water in Enugu State.
Madam Janet: the government are not sincere on the issue of water provision, I wonder why the subsequent government will still be talking about the water bill since 2007. I am not happy, I no longer feature in anything that has to do with WASH in Enugu state because we are not sincere. Withdrawal is not my own making. Declaring a state of emergency on WASH is not enough, the government has to come out and do the work.
Baba Otu from 9th Mile: water is life, the government is not supposed to play with anything related to the availability of water, we cannot do anything without water, it is really absurd for we to be talking about water as a problem. The government is meant to ensure that every corner of the state has clean drinking water. People are suffering because of lack of water.