By Tosin Kolade
The Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMWR) has identified insecurity and theft of water pumps, as major challenges to the provision of potable water supply in rural areas.
Mr Isaiah Ademoroti, the ministry’s Deputy Director, Rural Water Supply, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Abuja.
Ademoroti said that the challenges in implementing the projects had been identified through effective monitoring and evaluation, with solutions already being proffered for better planning.
He said the ministry always ensured absolute completion of all water schemes before being paid.
Ademoroti said this had given the contractors a huge responsibility to secure the schemes from theft before handing them over to communities.
“Due to the delay in handing over of some completed water points, we have seen the theft of pumps at various stages.
“Most of their targets is stealing the pumps, because they can easily get them and sell them off.
“For instance, something we are buying for almost N1 million, they may sell them off for between N200,000 and N400,000.
“In the cost of implementing the first phase of the project, we had to design a protection method for the pumps with the contractors, in which an iron concrete is used and sealed up in the ground.
“This makes it difficult for them to be stolen, so to break such concrete, it will take many hours.
“Also, we have agreed with the contractors to employ security to manage these water points to prevent theft,” he said.
The deputy director said due to insecurity, it was difficult to get to some hard-to-reach communities.
Ademoroti said that although risky, the ministry ensured that huge investments did not go to waste by ensuring value for money.
He added that some contactors might try to play smart, by not working with specification, but they were however mandated to work to specifications.
Ademoroti said due to poverty and poor awareness, most community members were delaying in embracing the concept of ownership of these schemes though they were the beneficiaries.
According to him, the ministry has been intervening in the provision of potable water supply to rural areas, internally displaced persons’ camps and in emergency situations.
Ademoroti said that so far, a total of one million persons had benefitted from the interventions, saying this would be scaled up in the 2022 projects.
He called for community ownership of projects, saying this would help in the sustainability of schemes and overall benefit for the populace.
“So far the total population that have benefitted shouldn’t be less than 1 million, because during COVID 19, we implemented almost 500 boreholes, each borehole served at least 1,000 persons in each community.
“In 2017, we had 87 hand pumps and about 85 solar powered boreholes. Each hand pumped boreholes provides water to 250-500 persons while the solar powered boreholes provide water for over 1,500 persons.
“However, completion of some boreholes were delayed due to increase in cost, thereby increasing budgets,’’ Ademoroti said.
He said that the nonchallant attitudes of come communities had seen reported cases of damages of water schemes, saying there was need for community members to take ownership of all water schemes.
“We need to reemphasise that these water schemes are not a national cake, but something that is of great benefit.
“Sadly, these requests are what the Federal Government can provide, this is a huge challenge, and that is an area that the National Assembly can help in more allocation of funds to the FMWR.
“Because the rural population in Nigeria is not less than 50 per cent, if we are to cater for them, we need huge investments for that.
“Health is wealth, water is wealth, if we know that, it means that the higher authorities should take it as a priority.
“No matter the investment, there is a higher return of investment on the rural populace,” Ademoroti added.(NAN)