The dry season, between October and April, comes with several challenges for some residents of Jos in Plateau State. Not least the scarcity of clean and potable water for drinking and other domestic uses.
In communities such as Jenta Adamu and Jenta Mangoro in Jos North Local Government Area, when there is no rainwater to rely on or water vendors have become scarce or their prices have skyrocketed, there is always the gully that separates the communities.
In those days, the dirty and stinking water of the gully teeming with algae serve the bath and washing needs of the residents.
This is nothing new as for decades this has been the practice.
“We wash here, we fetch water for bathing, flushing toilets and other domestic purposes from this dirty gully, but we don’t use it for cooking,” Sarah Sunday, a teenager seen washing by the gully when Daily Trust correspondent visited, said.
For drinking, Sarah said her family sometimes relies on cleaner water sipping out of a rock close to their home. When they can afford them, they turn to water vendors.
Residents say some females leave their homes before the crack of dawn to take their bath in the gully, then dress up to go for their daily activities.
Ironically, our correspondent also gathered that many toilets in the area are channelled in such a manner that faeces are flushed back into the gully.
Though there are houses with wells in the communities, residents say not every area is fit for one, with huge underground rocks making most wells shallow or unable to produce enough water. This often forces residents to turn to water vendors.
Sarah Sunday was at the gully with her little sister to wash their clothes while her little brother splashed in the water as he takes a bath close by.
To collect enough water to rinse their clothes, the girls build a small dam out of stones and sand and watch the water pool.
Sarah says they buy one jerrycan of water for N35 from the water vendors.
“The gully is usually a beehive of activities on Saturday mornings as residents troop out to wash and fetch water for other domestic activities while children bath and swim in the water,” she said.
David Idoko has lived in the area since 1998 and has built his home there. When he dug a well in his house, he was lucky to find water.
“The problems in this area is due to years of neglect by successive governments. Areas where there is no pipe-borne water, the government should at least provide public boreholes,” he said.
While he counts himself lucky for having water in his well, the water gets contaminated during the rainy season. Digging wells in this area is like playing Russian roulette. Those who have the resources to have dug boreholes in their homes, which are not accessible to the public.
“If the government can come to the aid of the community by sinking at least boreholes, the water problem would be solved or brought to the barest minimum,” he said.
He said even though there hasn’t been any known disease outbreak in the area, it would be a disaster for any to happen due to the use of contaminated water from the gully.
Residence who refuse to visit the gully for a shower sometimes go days without bathing. One of them is Margaret Ogijo.
Ogijo, a mother of four who sells vegetables, relocated from Rukuba Road in Jos to Jenta Adamu about nine years ago. She told Daily Trust that she relies on water from the vendors for her domestic use, which is sometimes scarce due to high demand while at other times, she may not be able to afford it.
She said residents were aware of the health implication of using water from the gully but have no choice.
“There has never been any known disease or outbreak associated with using the water, that is why more people continue to depend on it,” Ogijo said.
For most people in Jenta Adamu and Jenta Mangoro, the rainy season comes with a lot of relief.
“Our suffering eases during the rainy season,” Ogijo said. “We fill our tanks and other water storages to the brim with rainwater.”
Ogijo, who spends about N1,000 every three days to purchase water for her family, called on the government to come to their aid by constructing boreholes or providing pipe-borne water to ease their sufferings.
When contacted, the Acting General Manager of Plateau State Water Board, Stella Buge said there is a new pipeline laying and pipe-borne provision projects that will capture communities that were not hitherto captured from the past.
On his part, the General Manager, Plateau Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (PRUWASSA), Engineer Peter Kassam, said the Jenta Adamu and Jenta Mangoro water situation has never actually been brought to his notice, even though the mandate of PRUWASSA covers rural communities with a population less than 5,000. Kassam however said the agency still embarks on borehole drilling in communities with critical water situation once they are called upon and the communities bring forth their plight.