- Over 70 million Nigerians lack access to potable water
- Nigeria is 3rd on the list of countries without access to potable water due to misappropriation of funds
By OHIA ISRAEL
Water is one of the essential gifts of nature, but today this nature’s gift from God has eluded millions of Nigerians due to massive fraud that has entangled its supply. A lot of phantom water projects had for years engulfed the Nigerian nation; today the Water Resources Ministry has become a cesspool of corruption as this paper gathered that the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and its parastatals and agencies had from year 2006 to 2008 embezzled and misused bigger part of the N30 billion which was given to the water sector being part of the Millennium Development Goals fund, MDG.
Investigations show that billions of naira which should be used to make water available for the more than 70 million Nigerians who don’t have access to dirt-free water has been misappropriated by the Ministry of Water Resources.
Investigation by DESERT HERALD shows that a World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund 2012 report attests to the fact that over 66 million Nigerians don’t have access to water. According to the report, as result of lack of good water, there has been incessant of water –borne diseases which is widespread in Nigeria with such diseases like cholera, Typhoid Fever, Dysentery, etc taking their tolls on people especially women and children and killing in hundreds if not thousands.
One of the frauds being perpetrated by the Ministry of Water Resources under the MDG fund is the borehole setting in villages, but this has been farce, as investigation by this paper reveals that such boreholes are abound in the country, with their sign post littered all over the places where this borehole is supposed to be drilled. This Borehole Project, with its funds misused by this crooked officials, is however meant to help the nation to also achieve goals one, four, five and six of the MDGS.
However, rather than aiding the country to realize its MDG by 2015, DESERT HERALD findings reveal that officials in the said Ministry of Water Resources and its agencies have been pilfering with this money that is supposed to be used to give water to the over 150 million Nigerians.
The Water Resources Ministry and all the agencies under it have as at the moment misappropriated a larger percentage of the N320billion allocated to it for good and clean water for Nigerians in the bid of achieving the MDG goals on/or before 2015.
It is on record that the provision of potable water is related directly to Goal one of the MDGs and also has affiliation with goals four, five and six in the sense that clean water helps to eliminate lack of food while it also brings down prevalence of water borne diseases.
Owning to how important potable and clean water is in the realization of the MDGs, Special Adviser to the President on MDGs, whose office is responsible for the attainment of the MDGs on/or before 2015, thereby opted for the Ministry of Water Resources due to the fact that it is responsible for water issues in the country as it is also one of the 10 recipients of funds set aside for the attainment of the MDGs.
According to a report of the independent monitors and evaluators of the MDGs, the Ministry received N9.42 out of the N99.9 budget of 2006, while it also got in 2007 10 percent of the N109 billion of the MDGs Budget that year and also got N10.8 billion of the N111 billion MDGs budget for 2008. The report also said these monies were meant for water projects scattered all over the country, which remained dormant over the years and only have signpost as the only thing that indicates that there is a project there.
The (M&E) team stated in their report in March 2008 that “most of the projects being handled from the headquarters of the FMWR have not taken off. Overall assessment of progress on all the programmes in the sector has been put at about 18.44%.”
Another area in the report which also signifies fraud by the ministry is also in the construction of village water projects which were supposed to be constructed by the Ministry of Water Resources. For instance, the report also said that in 2006, 21 small towns and villages were mapped out to be beneficiaries of the water projects to be built across the country. However, according to the report of the M&E team, those projects never saw the light of the day.
The M&E team also stated in their report that “of the 21 small towns and villages water supply projects that were to be built in different locations across the country, eight recorded no progress whatsoever and there were no reports on 11.” Apart from the 21 village water supply projects, money was also released to the FMWR in 2006 for the construction of 449 motorized boreholes across the country. Two years after money was approved for the boreholes however, work had not started in any of the 449 locations. The ministry however told the M&E team that “contracts had been awarded and that contractors were already mobilizing to work.”
However, DESERT HERALD findings show that it is not only the Federal Ministry of Water Resources that is culpable and indicted in the act as agencies under the Ministry were also found to be culprits in the illicit act.
Another area in which the MDGs fund meant for the water project is diverted is also in the area of the River Basins Development Authorities (RBDA) where money meant for the establishment and provision of water for both domestic and agricultural use for Nigerians have indeed become avenue for unprofessional conduct and incompetence according to investigations.
In its bid to achieve the MDGs projects through the RBDAs, the office of the MDGs approved monies for all the 12 River Basin Development Authorities, according to report. It pointed out that in 2006 monies were earmarked for the River Basins, for example the Ogun River Basin got the sum of N900 million and that money was meant for the building of the Igbojaiye Dam and also building of other 59 rural water projects.
This paper learnt that the dam was not constructed and out of the 59 water projects only 23 were built. Meanwhile in the year 2007 another N1billion was also earmarked for the Ogun-Osun RBDA for water projects which also includes the Igbojaiye dam.
As gathered, the Igbojaiye dam was again not constructed, while only 16 per cent of 105 rural water projects were done. Moreover over almost a number of years, the Dam construction just began in August 2009 after large portion of funds has been released for its construction.
DESERT HERALD findings also show that the Ogun- Osun RBDA is one among many other RBDA projects scattered all over the country, as many were not done while others were also poorly done.
The RBDA according this paper’s investigations shows that the projects so far may have been recorded different levels of progress but the performance in total have been not impressive at all.
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As gathered from the M&E team; “the projects handled by the RBDAs have recorded varying levels of progress but overall performance has been unimpressive. Several projects have not commenced at all.
“All the M&E teams reported difficulty in gaining access to projects and contract documents that would enable them to identify and assess progress achieved on the projects. It would not be out of place to suggest that in many of the projects, such project information was perhaps even non-existent, as also access to information was problematic, particularly access to information about projects in RBDAs,” the report stated
However, the Monitoring group also said that the Presidency is to be blamed as its failure to act on the said corruption in the water Ministry makes the corruption to continue unabated.
According to them the President has had the report as he is briefed quarterly on the report and the progress of the MDGs.
Meanwhile, a World Health Organisation/United Nations Children’s Fund joint monitoring program, in its 2012 progress report on drinking water and sanitation, ranked Nigeria third behind China and India on the list of countries with the largest population without access to improved drinking water. The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program report, which covered between 1990 and the end of 2010, noted that about 66 million Nigerians lack access to drinking water, while 34 million, about 20 per cent of the country’s population, practice open defecation.
The report also stated that for open defecation, Nigeria was fifth behind India (626 million), Indonesia (63 million), Pakistan (40 million), and Ethiopia (38 million).
Nigeria was one of the eight countries in the world having between only 50 and 75 per cent of their urban population accessing improved drinking water; for the country’s rural areas the figure is less than 50 per cent.
However, some countries such as Malawi, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Namibia, and Gambia, were said to have already met the target, while Liberia is on track to meeting it.
It was early this year, the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe, revealed that about 70 million Nigerians lacked access to potable water. She said, “The current water supply service coverage in the country is 58 per cent, which is about 87 million people. This translates to lack of potable water for about 70 million people. In the rural areas, only 42 per cent have access to potable water supply.
“Many of our children are also dying of diseases associated with water borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, diarrhoea and river blindness. This is unacceptable to the current administration and is, therefore, focusing more attention on the water sector.”
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