By Polycarp Auta
Acute shortage of water is forcing residents of Sabongida community in Langtang South Local Government of Plateau into constant battles with animals for drinking water from dirty ponds.
A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), who visited the community on Sunday, found that there was no source of potable drinking water in the area.
NAN found that water had become a scarce commodity, particularly during the dry season.
With the scarcity worsening by the day, residents usually travel many kilometres in search of ponds where they fight with cows, goats and dangerous reptiles in water ponds.
“We take basins and move to far away areas; we keep looking around for streams and ponds.
“Very often, we have to wait for cows to finish drinking the dirty water before we scoop whatever is available. Unfortunately, that is the only option available to us,” a resident, Mrs Christie Ndam, told NAN.
She said that some journeys take four to five before one could sight a stream or pond as the few available ones keep drying up in view of pressure.
Ndam described the situation as “appalling and unfortunate”, and expressed regret that the water scarcity issue keeps getting worse.
She said that the absence of potable water was affecting the quality of food they consume, making the people vulnerable to waterborne diseases.
“We are vulnerable to waterborne and other communicable diseases here.
“We sometimes spend hours around a dry well to get water. Herders struggle with us as they also have to care for their cattle. The competition for every drop is usually stiff.
”For years now, we have been suffering in Sabongida; it has lingered for long without any meaningful help.
”As you can see, we spend hours here just to fetch this dirty water. We try to purify it with chemicals before drinking.
”Our hospitals, schools, and other public places don’t have water and this is affecting our personal hygiene and environmental sanitation.
”As a community, we have made efforts toward addressing this challenge, but it has not yielded much result; sometimes we dig the grounds in search of water,” she lamented.
Miss Jennifer Nimfa, a secondary school student, scooping water from one of the ponds in the community.
Miss Jennifer Nimfa, a 16-year-old secondary school student, told NAN that the situation was affecting the education of children in the community.
“Very often, children spend school hours in search of water.
”I have been around this well since 4 a.m. and it is 10 a.m. already.
“I haven’t fetched water yet. I am no where any close. It means I can’t go to school today again because school time has past.
”Water is life; we need it to take our bath, cook and carry out other domestic activities before going to school.
”But majority of children can’t go to school because we spend hours in search of water. Sometimes, we go to school without taking our bath and brushing our teeth, but for how long can we keep doing this?
”We call on government and public-spirited individuals to come to our aid, particularly to safeguard our future as young people because if this continues, our educational journey is already bleak,” she fumed.
Another resident, Fabong Miri, decried the effect of the situation on farming and other agricultural activities.
He said that the absence of potable water is a general problem in the locality, adding that all the communities in Langtang South were suffering acute water shortage.
”We are basically farmers; we need water for irrigation and other use in the farms, but we don’t have.
”This dirty water you see people struggling with animals to fetch is here because of the rain that fell few days ago. Without the rain, all the wells and dams would get completely dried.
”This is why we are calling on government to come to our aid by dredging some of the dams here so that they can retain water for longer period and ameliorate our sufferings.
”We heard that the dredging of this dam has been captured in the budget, so we are appealing to goverment to expand and make them deeper.
“We want to say bye bye to water scarcity in Sabongida and environs,” he said.
Mr Goyil Maikarfi, another resident, decried the alarming water scarcity problem in the entire locality, insisting that the situation calls for a national emergency.
“The situation in Sabongida is scary; people here struggle with animals over the untreated water from the Mabudi and other dams.
”The rural dwellers urgently need intervention to provide good water in the area.
”The problem of water scarcity in the entire Langtang South needs a holistic approach; the problem needs government intervention with good political will to address the hardship faced by our people.
”We call on the new government at the state and federal levels to address our plight by finding lasting solution to the perennial water scarcity in our community,” he appealed.
The community leader of Sabongida, Mr Ponzing Durfa, who also spoke with NAN, described Langtang South as the most backward and underdeveloped local government area in the state.
Durfa decried the absence of not just potable water, but all critical social amenities, adding that successive administrations had only paid lip service to the provision of the amenities.
”This community and, indeed, the entire local government area, produce varieties of agricultural products in large quantity.
“Our people are basically farmers. We produce yam, maize, cassava, groundnuts, among other crops, in commercial quantities.
”Unfortunately, the local government area doesn’t have any source of good water. It lacks other basic amenities like road network, electricity, healthcare facilities, among others,” he lamented.
One of the ponds where residents fetch water from
Worried by the hardship people are passing through, Mr Timkat Peter, the National Coordinator, Economic Freedom Fighters-Nigeria, recently petitioned the state and federal government to urgently address the problem.
Peter copied his petition to Sen. Nora Daduut who represents Plateau South Senatorial District, and Dame Pauline Tallen the immediate past Minister of Women Affairs.
Other notable government functionaries who reveived the letter included Idris Wase, the current Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Beni Lar who represents Langtang South/Langtang South in the House of Representatives. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Ephraims Sheyin