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Clean Water Supply: The Untold Stories Of Rivers Communities

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Internally Displaced Persons (idps) fetching water from a bore hole in their New Kuchingoro Camp in Abuja, yesterday.

Internally Displaced Persons (idps) fetching water from a bore hole in their New Kuchingoro Camp in Abuja, yesterday.

The United Nations De
velopment Programme (UNDP) in its agenda for sustainable development listed the provision of clean water as one of the central pillars for sustainable development.
The UNDP’s position may have informed the commitment by the present administration in Rivers State to attach much importance to the provision of water to rural communities in the state.
It would be recalled that Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike had recently approved the sum of N200 million as the state counterpart fund for the European Union-Niger Delta Support Programme (EU-NDSP) for the provision of water to communities in Opobo/Nkoro and Akuku-Toru Local Government Areas.
However, as the government sources for funds for the realisation of the programme, communities in the Odual and Emago Kugbo axis of the state are still counting their losses following years of neglect by the authorities in the provision of clean water to the area.
It would be noted that most communities in the Odual and Emago Kugbo district of Abual/Odual Local Government Area are dependent on the Orashi River and  Kugbo Creek for their sources of drinking water.
Information available to The Tide reveals that apart from drinking from the rivers, the rivers also serve the communities for purposes of refuse evacuation, bathing, washing and transportation.
The source also revealed that, in the Odual axis, the only attempt by any government or corporate organisations was in 1994 when the Nigerian Agip Oil Company awarded a contract to George Fente for the construction of a borehole at Ogboloma, but the water was not suitable for drinking following the presence of iron.
Communities which depended on the Orashi river as source of drinking water include, Ogboloma, Adada, Emelego, Emago, Kugbo and Okolomade, while Anyu, Obelum and Emirikpo depend on burrow pits as sources of drinking matter.
The problem of these communities, The Tide, learnt are further compounded by the lack of access road and medical facilities and this has resulted to high mortalities from water borne diseases such as, Cholera, Diarrhea and others.
Mr. Agara Victor John Samuel, an indigene of Ogboloma in the Odual district of Abua/Odual Local Government Area, told The Tide in an exclusive interview that the entire livelihood of the people depended on the Orashi River.
“That River is the only thing we know in Odual. We swim there, defecate, fish and drink there.
Mr Samuel said that, because of this, Cholera is common in the area and no effort is being made by any government  or agency to address the situation.
He took a swipe at the immediate past administration of Chibuike  Rotimi Amaechi for abandoning the General Hospital in Emelego to build a health centre in Ogboloma with no equipment or personnel. According to him, taking sick people from the area to either Port Harcourt or Yenagoa for treatment is always difficult because of lack of access road.
Also speaking to The Tide on the issue, Mr. Edwin Sokari Edoghotu from Emago, said that the only attempt to get clean water in is community was in 1997 when Zako Pracklers, an oil servicing company constructed a borehole for the community.
Mr. Edoghotu said that the effort was welcomed by the people at that time, but the borehole could not serve the needs of all the communities.
“Presently, the borehole is still there but not functioning,”he intoned.
He added that two former councillors from the area also pooled resources together to build a borehole, but the water was condemned, because of the presence of iron.
Mr Edoghotu further said that apart from the problem of clean water, Kugbo Creek is also blocked by water hyacinth, thereby making navigation difficult.
He urged the government to come to the aid of Kugbo communities as the area has contributed so much towards the economy of both Rivers State and Nigeria.
On his part, an indigene of Okana community, Mr Soyomon Wodo described the situation as very horrible.
Mr. Nwodo said that apart from the pollution of the river by faeces and water hyacinth, the recent oil spills at Kugbo also added to the problem as the entire stretch of the river from Abua to Kugbo was polluted with crude oil.
He called on the government to come to the aid of the people by providing them with basic amenities such as water and health facilities.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Water Resources and Rural Development Hon. Walter Ibibia was not on seat when The Tide visited the ministry, but an official in the Department of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASA) who spoke under condition of anonymity said that the agency was yet to receive complaints from the affected communities on the issue.
He also said that no community in the state would be left behind in the government’s rural water supply programme and urged the people of Emago Kugbo and Odual to follow the appropriate channel in the presentation of their issue, assuring that it would be given adequate attention.

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CSOs Partner Govt On Climate Change

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Some civil society organisations have expressed their willingness to partner with the government to address climate change and other environmental challenges in the new year.
Some of the organisations include, the Nigeria Civil Society Framework on Paris Agreement at the SDG’s (NCSfPAS) GIFSED, Climate and Sustainable network as well as Women Environmental Programme (WEP) Gender and Environmental Initiatives (GERI).
The Tide source in Abuja reported the Executive Director of Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem preservation, Mr. David Terugwa as saying that they were ready to partner government with view to addressing climate change and other environmental challenges.
For us, we are looking at those areas where we can come in and assist and to be partners with the government.
Project Lead, CSDeu Net, Mr. Pius Oko, said that the group will support the government and other stakeholders in the implementation of the law.
“We are here today to make a step forward. We want to first highlight the issues that concern the impact in climate change and have a tangible solution to such problems.
Executive-Director, WEP,Mrs Anne-Marie Abaogu said CSOs were set to develop a partnership that would implement framework to reverse the ugly trend of climate change in the country.

By: Oribim Ibama

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Monarch Advises Community On Sanitation

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The Onuayekein /Amanyanabo of Obonoma Community, King Enenibofori Dateme Obonogina, has charged the community to take the issue of sanitation seriously. Speaking at an interative session recently in the community, the Obonogina said all grasses and bushes must be cleared to expose the face of the community.
He said the situation will improve the hygienic and aesthetic conditions of the community. King Dateme said the community will expand the road recently commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to enable it include more of its hinterland communities.
He said the expansion of the road will boost farming and fishing activities in the areas as well as enable more farmers and fishermen to evacuate their produce to the markets thereby boosting the economy of the area.
He said the community will liaise with Ministries, Departments and Agencies with a view to developing the areas. King Dateme also stressed the need for unity and love among the people. According to him, when there is love, there will be peace and development of the community.
Also speaking, Professor Anyamebo Okorosoye Orubite, urged the people to cultivate the spirit of self help instead of relying solely on government for the development of their communities.
He also said that arrangements were on to build a Kalabari University at Semoo.

By: Oribim Ibama

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Environment

NOA Charges Nigerians On Illegal Oil Bunkering

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National Orientation Agency (NOA) has called on Nigerians to regard any money generated from illegal oil bunkering business also known as “Kpofire” business as blood money.
Rivers State Director of the Agency, Barrister Young Ayotamuno, made the call in an exclusive interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt.
Ayotamuno also said kpofire business also negated the right to life of Nigerians.
According to him, citizen’s constitutional rights to life are being breached by the proliferation of illegal refinaries in the region.
Ayotamuno, who said deaths related to respiratory tract infection is likely to increase in the next few years in the region also described as baseless, arguments that poverty and unemployment are responsible for the rising cases of illegal oil bunkering activities in the Niger Delta.
“You cannot use poverty to justify the breaking of pipelines, which is a critical national asset”, stressing that the National Orientation Agency (NOA) will continue to sensitise members of the public on the need to protect the nation’s asset.
The NOA director also commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for directing local government chairmen in the state to monitor their areas and ensure the stoppage of illegal oil bunkering activities in their domains.
“NOA is thanking Governor Wike for asking local government chairmen to monitor their areas.
“NOA will continue to sensitise members of the public that you cannot use poverty to justify the breaking of pipelines which is a national assets”.
“The consequence of illegal refinery is that it negates the right to life of the citizen.
“Peoples Constitutional Right to Life is being negated. Peoples environment is being destroyed”, he said.
He said stopping the nefarious activities require a lot of political will add “we must work with state government and federal government to curb it. “Kpofire money is blood money” he declared.
Ayotamuno said the society cannot be battling kpofire and Covid-19 at the same time as reports had it that both incidences are responsible for series of respiratory infections.
He also called on the government to revisit the issues of modular refineries as well as the stoppage of gas flaring in the country.
The NOA Director also called for a half to the practice of burning of tyres and that of bush burning, while destruction of illegal petroleum vessels by military should be stopped.

By: John Bibor

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