By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna.
Nigeria – It was about noon on a Tuesday towards the end of November, on that faithful day I and a friend were in a community, some kilometres away from Kujama town where we saw a little girl excitingly fetching water with her four litres plastic bucket from a hand pump borehole.
While we stood and observed her with keen interest, we saw her kept coming for more water, this prompted me to move closer to her so I can find out the reason for her persistency.
The story of little Amina Zakari, a five year old child in a rural community of Unguwan Bukka in Kujama ward, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, gives an insight into what children in other rural communities across Kaduna State enjoys as a result of the SHAWN II Project.
SHAWN II as the project is called, means, Sanitation, Water and Hygiene in Nigeria, a project funded by Department for International Development, DfID, a United Kingdom government department responsible for administering overseas aid, and United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, with counterpart funding from the state government.
The project was aimed at providing access to sanitation, hygiene and improved water supply for everyone in the benefiting communities.
This is what excites Amina. Although, little Amina could not speak with me about her excitement, but her father Yahaya Zakari, shared with me why Amina and other children in the community could be joyful knowing that they no longer have to drink from a pond or Well with the presence of clean and potable water in their community.
According to him, before the arrival of the SHAWN II Project, the only sources of water in the community are Wells that produces water that is unclean and unhygienic for consumption. Apart from the non-cleanliness of the water, the environment around various Wells was another major concern, as people in the community consistently falls ill as a result of the combination of bad water and dirty environment.
“Today we are not just drinking clean water but we are living in a very healthy environment, even our Wells that we no longer use are now properly covered, every household now has good and clean latrines.
“Our behavior to hygiene has changed. We now know that we have to wash our hands properly and regularly before and after eating and when we also use the toilet. Even the women don’t have to go through the stress of drawing water from the Wells just because of the water UNICEF has brought to our village.
“That is why Amina and other children have taken over the borehole. Anytime you try to stop them from using the borehole, they go as far as rejecting their food. We just have to allow them to do it since they enjoy doing it, but they must not carry anything heavy and an adult is always around to supervise them, he said.
One thing that is evident in the impact of the SHAWN II Project on Angwan Bukka Community is the cleanliness of the community where you hardly see a single dirt on their ground, this Zakari explained, was daily being supervised by a committee called WASHCOM (Water Sanitation and Hygiene Committee). The committee was saddled with the responsibility of monitoring all SHAWN projects in their various communities by ensuring that the communities owned the projects and maintain them by themselves.
It was the same story in all three LGAs of Chikun, Kachia and Kubau, that has benefited from the first phase of the SHAWN II Project. The story of another six years old little girl Zainab Maitale, seven and nine years old Bello Sani and Shuaibu Abdullahi in Kubau LGA, Haskiya Ward, Ungwan Kwari, Mabuga and Ungwan Tudun, Mabuga were equally seen fetching water from the SHAWN boreholes in their communities.
A community leader who spoke with me at Ungwan Tudun Mabuga, noted that “before UNICEF brought this borehole to our village, we never had access to potable water, we use to drink water from a stream and whenever there was dry season, it was always hell here because the stream did dry up.
“This is the only water source around now, but is good, it has reduced our suffering as far as water is concern, if you look down there you can see that they are also building us toilets, both for the community use and another one for the school. I thank UNICEF, and Kaduna state government for selecting our village to be part of those who are benefiting from the project.”
At Gidan Jifa, a number of Secondary School girls from Government Junior Secondary School, Anchau who had just closed from school and were on their way back home and decided to drink water from one of the borehole, had a brief interaction with me and said “buying water here is very difficult because you hardly see sachet water and we cannot afford bottled water.
“But since they constructed this borehole here, what we do is to use our containers to fetch water and take to school, during break we come back here to refill our containers and when we close, we stop over again to drink water and to wash our faces.”
By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna.