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Ebonyi Water Scarcity Exposes Residents To Guinea Worm, Other Diseases

Ebonyi state governor, Chief Martin Elechi

FROM IGNATIUS OKPARA, Abakiliki – Unless by special God’s intervention, citizens of Ebonyi state, especially residents of Abakaliki, the state capital, may soon start experiencing various forms of water-born related diseases, following acute water scarcity that has hit the state for months now.

Ebonyi State Governor, Martin Elechi

Ebonyi State Governor, Martin Elechi

African Examiner recalled that the state had always been synonymous with the deadly guinea worm disease (GWD), which had ravaged most rural communities in the past, before intervention of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international donor agencies.

Presently the people of the state are experiencing serious difficulties in accessing water either from the public or private supply sources.

The unfortunate situation in various parts of the state, especially Abakaliki, had continued to make life unbearable for residents, as most people have resorted to drinking unsafe water accessed from ponds and stagnant streams.

On daily basis, residents, mostly youths carry as many as five jerry-cans’ in wheel barrows in search of water.

However, the development has created room for private borehole operators in the state, to make brisk businesses, as a 25 litre of water now sell for between 10 to 20 naira.

Reacting to the situation, a resident of Abakaliki, who preferred anonymity, had appealed to the state government to come to their rescue.

“We have not got water from the public water source in our home and those in our street since November 2014.

“The only water borehole in our street has stopped functioning and those who have functional boreholes have increased the price.

“A 25 lire jerry can of water which formerly sold for N5 now sells for N10 and in some cases N15,” .

Justifying the increase in the cost of the commodity, a private bore-hole operator in Abakaliki, chief James Nwafor, attributed it to the effects of the dry season and irregular power supply from the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC).

He said, “It is generally difficult to pump water during the dry season and the severity of the condition this January in the state made the situation worse.

“The poor rate of power supply from the EEDC, makes me to spend much in purchasing diesel for my generator as the slight increment was out of benevolence because the supposed cost for one jerry can is N20,” he said.

Regrettably, in spite of the non-supply of water from the public source, the residents, say the state water authorities still imposed high water levies on them.

“We still pay heavily for unconsumed water as the well water in our residence has long dried.

“We urge the government to address the situation as provision of water is one of ways to gain the trust of the electorate, especially during this electioneering period,” he said.

In his reaction, the General Manager of the State Water Corporation, Mr. Osmond Igwe, explained that the scarcity was caused by mechanical breakdown at the Ezillo Water scheme, which is the main source of water supply in the state.

According to him, “the breakdown has lasted for two weeks as only one distribution pump is functioning.

“The problem might persist until both major pumps are functioning as the volume of water in the scheme’s tanks is not enough to distribute water to everyone,” he said.

He promised that the Oferekpe Mega-Water Scheme would soon be functional as the control valve needed to regulate water surge had been imported from Israel and was awaiting clearance at the wharf.

“The valve will protect all systems in the water scheme as the government does not want the over N10 billion project to be moribund,” he stated.

Meanwhile, medical experts in the state have urged the state government to quickly address the problem, with a view to preventing a possible out break of water-borne related diseases.

“The people may resort to accessing water from unhygienic sources thereby exposing them to great health dangers,” a medical Doctor said.

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