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SPECIAL REPORT: Inside Zokutu, Abuja community where residents still rely only on contaminated water after 20 years

Zokutu, a community located in Kuje Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with over 4,000 residents only relied on contaminated water sources for drinking and other uses.

Technocrat Media, Abuja

Zokutu, a community located in Kuje Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with over 4,000 residents only relied on contaminated water sources for drinking and other uses.

According to Tracka, residents, including children and women, do not have access to potable water. The community relies on water which they described as a puddle of brown mud gotten from a stream. Terribly, the stream is the only source of water being consumed by the people.

A bowl of water was fetched from the stream in Zokutu community. Credit: Trcaka

According to the residents, the community has been facing a water crisis for over 20 years. They lamented how different organizations have visited and used their plight for photo-ops without a solution, so they were wary of visitors.

During the first visit of Tracka team, they refused to speak with them. They were obliged to interact after many appeals and reassurances that the team was genuinely interested in their plight.

Residents of the community have to go the extra mile to boil the water they fetch for daily consumption. But sometimes, it is not enough, they lamented. They said many community residents have developed ailments and died from consuming the mud water.

Residents’ ugly experiences

Comrade John Matthew, a youth leader in the community, gave details of how the water has resulted in the death of some residents.

“Two years ago, we lost our children due to pipe-borne water diseases. The health clinic here doesn’t have what will treat our children on that sickness, so we lost them,” he said.

“The lack of water and sanitation locks women in a cycle of poverty. They also need clean water to wash themselves or their menstrual cloths and a place to dispose of their menstrual pads if they are using them.”

Another resident who identified herself as Mrs Rose narrated the ugly experience of women in the community using the water during their monthly menstrual flows.

Some residents of Zokutu community. Credit: Tracka

She said: “I grew up with this water problem; now I have become a mother, it has become worse. We use bad water like that for our menstruation. We use rags or old clothes to take care of ourselves during that period with the dirty water like that. We are used to it and don’t feel anything again because our pains and cries are not yielding any positive results.”

WASH facilities for school girls

Schools need Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). According to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), universal, affordable, and sustainable access to WASH is a key public health issue and the central focus of the first two targets of SDG 6. The unavailability of WASH facilities in schools and homes is a critical issue for girls’ upbringing and health survival, which determines their presence in school during their monthly periods. Irregular attendance can lead to lower grades and may, eventually, mean that the girl drops out of school altogether, contributing to the 10.5 million out-of-school children in Nigeria.

A teenager in the community revealed that she has oftentimes missed school attendance and tests because of the contaminated water.

“I’m a student in SS3, we are writing our WAEC this month, and this lack of clean water has affected my school. I go to school late, and sometimes I will miss tests or two or more periods of the lesson because I need to get water to use before going to school and after closing school. Every day, I wake up by 4 am to go to the river and don’t come home until 8 or 9 am, then I start preparing for school.” she told Tracka.

The community head laments

The community head lamented how different people and organizations had visited the community without an end to their problem.

“You came here some months ago, and I wasn’t around, but my people told me. It is because you speak our dialect; if not, I will not listen to you. Many people have come here to take our pictures and record videos. After that, we did not see anyone again.” 

Esther, a middle-aged woman in the community, spoke about how their ordeal drinking the water.

“We drink the water because we don’t have any choice. We have to filter the water by removing some particles before taking it home to boil and drink. The wahala is too much, and it does not even still make the water safe.” she revealed.

“I have spent a lot of money buying drugs because anytime I use the water without boiling it, I begin to purge and have health issues. It has caused a lot of illness to us in the community.” she continued.

The youth leader outlined the steps they have taken to reach out to the government without success.

“We have written to the local government chairman many times, even the Senator, but nothing has been done. We don’t know if they see the letters and just ignore them or if something else is the matter. We pray that our water problem will be solved one day.” he said.

Head of Tracka’s comment

Damen Ilevbaoje, Head of Tracka when contacted by TECHNOCRAT MEDIA on Tuesday, said, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and lawmakers from the FCT should always do community need assessments of communities instead empowerment programs that do not really meet the needs of the people into the budget.

He said the people need clean water as a matter of urgency, saying FCTA is expected to take up the issue in no distant time.

Editor’s Note: The story was first written by Ayomide Ladipo and Garba Abdullahi of Tracka, the service delivery arm of BudgIT but was rewritten by TECHNOCRAT MEDIA.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

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