In Karim, 5-10 persons are estimated to be daily diagnosed of water related diseases, while 2- 5 people die weekly of same diseases, Ayodele Samuel Ayokunle, Journalist and blogger at www.ayodelenews.blogspot.com writes
My encounter on the road to Karim Village wasn’t a palatable experience for me. The Village had just been ravaged by the deadly flood that swept across the country, bad roads, fear of transportation on water coupled with visible angry flooded villagers. At last I landed in ‘Snake Island’. Karim Village, headquarters of Karim- Lamido Local Government in Taraba state, North East Nigeria.
It takes about seven hours by road from Jalingo the state capital, due to bad roads and the vastness of the land, but I took less than 3hours taking waterways using local boat from River Lau to River Benue to Jen and motorcycle to Karim town.
Thou the people of karim Lamido are still battling the effects of flood that ravaged the rustic community .Typhoid and other water related diseases remain another nightmare.
Karim village ( is) known among visitors ,mostly Corps Members (a Nigerian government youth scheme for fresh graduates) as Snake Inland due to heavy presence of reptiles.
The town is surrounded by water and thick grasses, which make snakes a common sight , about four different tribes (Karim jo , Jenjo, Bachama, Bambur) made up of the undeveloped Agrarian land with people majorly (engaging) in rice farming and fishing as source of livelihood.
Faced with lack of safe water despite (being) surrounded by Rivers Benue and Lau , lack of toilets, the people of Karim despite their many problems, have their own uniqueness of peace and harmony among the more than 195,844 (2006 census) Christians and Muslims who co-exist .
Water related diseases affect the young and the old in Karim because of their nomadic nature; they tend to move from place to place in search of greener pastures for their immediate family, leaving behind available water source .
Major sources of water include rivers, ponds, and open wells which the inhabitants use for their domestic activities and every other water related activity.
(The only available sources of portable water for the people include): a privately- owned borehole operated by RABI waters,that sells water especially to water vendors (mai-ruwa) and (the borehole) at the emir’s palace .
Most Government sunk boreholes and the recently sunk ones under the Millennium Development Goals MDGs are no longer functioning due to what residents describe as “poor execution of the projects.”
A resident , Alhaji Abdullahi Umar said that sources of portable water were all blocked and most government boreholes are all dried, “we find it very difficult to have clean water for consumption and domestic use because most government water (sic)has dried up, so we drink from the ponds ”
However little or no assistance is available on the issue of healthcare. The community is armed with an unequipped primary health care center (which can hardly) abate the water crisis (there)
According to, the Principal Community Health Officer (PCHO) of only Primary Health Centre, Karim Dr. Isa Nayin , typhoid and other gastro intestinal diseases like dysentery and diarrhea are prevalent in the locality. He said that these diseases are commonly reported from remote areas which includes Karim- Mondi, Ruwan Fulani, Kwanchi and Mutum Daya, the villages about two hours motorcycle ride from the center.
Citing the disease of the F’s (Faeces-Flies-Food-Finger) as the major vectors of the diseases, Dr Isa stressed that these diseases occur because there is no reliable source of water within the locality.
He estimated that 5-10 persons are daily diagnosed of water related cases in the hospital, while 2-5 die weekly of same illness, “ because the people still believe in traditional medicine so they usually don’t like visiting the hospital because of the cost and distance.”
Another problem facing the community is ‘Color change in water’ mostly especially in the rural areas where different activities take place within the village ponds or rivers, pigs are allowed to go play in drinking ponds thereby causing a dramatic change in the color of water changing to red.
While a health worker Bumanda Andrew expressed fear considering the increasing casualties of water related diseases ,(he also) appealed to both local and state government authorities to come to the aid of the community residents.
“Government needs to compliment efforts of United Nations in providing social amenities to the less privileged, people here need help on water and many other social problems”
Commenting on the water problem, a government official, the vice- chairman of Karim Lamido Local Government, Alhaji Ahmad Umar Karim admitted that government is aware of the people’s plights but assured that efforts are made to reduce their hardship.
“The government has done their best in terms of provision of portable water, citing example of a tap water pipe which were laid by the present government across the local government headquarters but which were suddenly vandalized by hoodlums without anybody reporting to the relevant authorities.”
He said the people should complement government efforts by protecting government properties sited in their domain
(As) the people of Karim are still hopeless (with regards to) safe water, basic healthcare among other social amenities; (when) will respite come their way?
This story is contributed by Ayodele Samuel, and published under the pro poor WASH stories project implemented by the Water and Sanitation Media Network Nigeria, with the support of West Africa WASH Media Network, WaterAid, and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.
Ayodele Samuel +2348074420617 [email protected] (Published here with slight editing of the original script )