From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
A Jos-based non-governmental organisation, Transfer of Appropriate Sustainable Technology and Expertise (TASTE-Nigeria) in partnership with USAID (Nigeria Early Recovery Initiative, NERI) programme has commissioned and handed over the solar-powered borehole, toilets and street lights to the leaders of Gwagwada in Chikun local government area of Kaduna State.
Gwagwada, an agrarian town of about 30 minutes drive off Kaduna-Abuja highway, is one of the communities in Kaduna State that currently host several families displaced by ravaging bandits from about ten adjoining communities, hence the consideration for these life-saving interventions.
Under this NERI programme, 48 community leaders capacity built on WASH, SDGs, Nutrition and Covid-19, three solar-powered boreholes provided with 210,000 litres capacity in total, 12 draw off points each with four taps and four in each of the four locations making it 48 taps for easy access and 12 VIP toilets reticulated with water.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the handing and taking over of the projects at the community square, District Head of Gwagwada who was represented by the Village Head, Luka Saure, described the interventions as unprecedented due to the influx of displaced persons into the community which has overstretched the little infrastructure available therein as old railway temporary station.
According to him, “we cannot appreciate the TASTE and American people enough for these interventions which they spread across our community in the interest of all of us especially those that were displaced from their abode by bandits.
“I want to assure all of you that we will make judicious use of these facilities because we know their values. They are answers to our improved health and general security. We never take these interventions for granted.
“The good thing is that, they have trained our people on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) weeks before they put up these things so we can be able to maintain them very well and that we will do”, he promised.
Counsellor, representing Gwagwada ward, Sunday Barde, who spoke on behalf of the Chairman, Chikun local government, Samaila Leeman, called on the government to support the community with security men in addition to their self-efforts to secure the area from kidnappers añd other sophisticated criminals.
Sharing his personal experiences he said, “since 2018, we have been having a serious issue of kidnapping here. My son and I have been kidnapped where we paid N1.7 million ransom before we were freed. We thank God for the gift of life but so many people were not that lucky.
“Another critical problem here is water and TASTE with the support of the American people have supported us with clean and safe water. Our people have been drinking from the river together with animals leading to water-borne diseases. With these boreholes that we can use both electricity and solar to power, that problem has been solved”, he said.
Given the rationale behind the choice of the projects, Project Officer, TASTE Nigeria, Jonathan Makan said, “the projects are brought here because of the influx of people who were displaced from their abode by the bandits. These facilities will help them prevent some of the health challenges that are already coming up within the communities.
“As an organisation, TASTE envisaged a poor community and vulnerable being supported with water and sanitation which we have been doing for 21 years now. The communities in need write to us as an organisation for us to reach out to them with the provision of borehole and toilet facilities. For each of our project in these communities, one borehole goes with one toilet”, he said.
In her part, Programme Manager, USAID/NERI programme, Kaduna State, Omokide Chikaodinaka said, her organisation had been able to build the capacity of 48 health promoters to ensure adequate water and hygiene sanitation environment.
According to her, “we are building community resilience and building community security as well. This is a peace and stability programme. This Gwagwada is hosting between eight to ten displaced communities like Ogosi, 5:30, Kakanmai, Shepe, etc who currently putting up here.
“Of course, water is a scarce resource in a situation like this. In addition, we also helped in building the capacity of 48 health promoters to ensure adequate water and hygiene sanitation environment.
“We also fortified the porous areas with forty solar-powered street lights covering about three kilometres to illuminate communities”, she said.