“We use up to 75 rims or more, yet, we don’t get water. We have tried many means to get water, and we’ve dug wells that didn’t reach water too. Anyone that wants to dig a borehole in this community must have at least N2.7m, because he needs to dig deep,” this is a statement of lamentation from the Baale of Afaja Community, Sunday Oladipupo.
Welcome to a community in Ogun state, called Afaja, where water and healthcare are not available, but death and sickness are cheap.
FAWAZ ADEBISI writes on how pregnant women, old and young ones struggle to get water on a daily basis, as lack of health care has resulted in countless suffering and tragic deaths in the community.
Afaja community, located in Olorunsogo, along Moshood Abiola Polytechnic way, Obafemi-Owode local government.
Afaja Community. Credit: Fawaz Adebisi
Afaja , a community with over 2000 population, has now been split to two, leading to the creation of old and new Afaja.
While the old Afaja has been inhabited for centuries, the new Afaja became residential just five years ago.
A visit to the communities revealed that residents of both Afaja old and new were suffering the same tribulation which include; a lack of water, hospital facilities, good roads, schools, adequate security and electricity.
The community can however be described as a government-forsaken place as no social amenity was seen provided by the government.
The road that leads to Afaja community is known as Oba road, a state road and due to its deplorable condition, has recorded many accidents which involved pregnant women, aged and children, especially students while ‘traveling’ to a school in Abeokuta, Ogun state capital.
Oba road, leading to Afaja phase. Credit: Fawaz Adebisi
Oba road leading to Afaja Community. Credit: Fawaz Adebisi
It was a tough decision for this reporter to access the community due to the deplorable road.
it was also observed that the newly constructed rail track that passed through the community contributed to the poor condition of the road .
A resident of the community, Toheeb Odemuyiwa, who claimed to have lived for over 40 years in the area, lamented that the road that links the community to Abeokuta has been under construction for the past 15 years.
He added that the last time it was repaired was during the erstwhile governor of the state, Segun Osoba’s time who governed the state between 1999 and 2003 .
It was gathered that the residents go through hell to access water and when they are sick they go to Federal Medical Centre, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, several kilometers from their community.
Some of the residents told this reporter that, despite their plight, politicians usually come to their community to campaign when elections were coming, including the last general and governorship election.
According to Odemuyiwa, campaigns were taken to the community, and “we have a polling unit, Sogbamu polling unit, where we cast our votes.”
Sogbamu polling unit. Credit: Fawaz Adebisi
… We dig Well With Over 200 Feet, Dug 14 Wells Still, No Water
Rims to be used while digging a well
Afaja community is one of the communities that require digging up to 200 feet before little water could be found.
According to homewaterresearch, residents should dig up to 100 feet before getting clean water, however, even when they dig over 200ft in this community, they hardly get water from the well.
Afaja community residents struggle with severe water scarcity despite extensive digging efforts. Residents have dug over 200 feet with 15 wells, but water remains scarce.
Some residents said the cost of digging a borehole in the community exceeds N2 million, making it unaffordable for most of them.
According to them, only the wealthy can afford deeper wells, while others rely on unhygienic rivers
An abandoned empty borehole which was dug by the community to get water
The Baale of the community, Chief Sunday Oladipupo, while narrating the travails of the community,expressed serious concern over the limited access to water sources in the community, stating that only the wealthy can afford to own a borehole or well.
He said, “I was born and bred here, my father lived for over 100 years and he spent all his lifetime here before he died, same as his fathers, these are the challenges we have been facing.
“We use up to 75 rims or more, sometimes, yet, we don’t get water. We have tried many means to get water, and we’ve dug wells that didn’t reach water too.
“Anyone that wants to dig a borehole must have at least N2.7m because he needs to dig deep,” he added.
Corroborating his claims, the chairman of Afaja Phase 2, Rasak Jimoh, stated that there are over 10 wells in Afaja Phase 2 alone.
He mentioned that despite the wells, many of them are dried up as only a few of them have water in them, stressing that the water is always dirty too.
An abandoned dried well
Another abandoned empty well.
“There is also a river across the bridge, along Sogbamu community, we fetch water from it, we wash our clothes and we fetch drinking water from it, but we put alum inside the drinking water, but some of us don’t use go there anymore because the water is now very dirty,” he added.
The river they used to drink from, is located along Sogbamu.
…Residents Prone To Devastating Food Security, Health
The World Health Organization, WHO, has strongly recommended a minimum daily consumption of 2 liters of water to support overall well-being and prevent dehydration-related complications.
However, in Afaja Community, residents are prone to many hazards. They said they pray ‘every day for rain, because they always have to struggle to get water.
Pots to receive water from rain
Speaking on the effects of the lack of water on their agriculture, they complained that both young and old suffer from this, saying, it has dealt a harsh blow on Afaja’s agricultural sector.
PLATFORM TIMES gathered that the community, whose only source of livelihood is farming, had encountered many losses as they only rely on rainwater to sustain their farm.
Findings have shown that insufficient water has made it increasingly challenging for farmers to irrigate their fields and raise livestock, resulting in reduced food production in the community.
Adding to this is the state of Afaja road, making it more difficult for them to transport their little farm product to the market for sale.
According to the community leader, Asipa, Femi Akinsola, many of the products had been wasted on the roads due to accidents, “leaving us stranded and helpless.”
He mentioned that apart from this, herders also wreak havoc on their farms, lamenting that, whenever they report to the police and arrest is made, shortly, the herdsmen are always freed.
He said, “We’ve been facing this problem even before I was born, every day is a challenge for us, we have faced many more challenges that I cannot recollect.
“Even after we struggle to successfully make our plants grow, Fulani herdsmen still take their cows to destroy our farms, and whenever we report, before we reach home, they would have been released.”
The instability caused by the water scarcity crisis has added an additional layer of stress to an already struggling community, further hindering prospects for harmony and progress.
As the Afaja Community grapples with the devastating impacts of water scarcity on health, food security and the economy, the community has called for an urgently needed action.
Water suppliers supplying a resident
…How Death Became Rampant In Afaja Community
Apart from the complaints over water,
residents are also faced with a lack of healthcare services.
With no hospital, pharmacy, or medical personnel, the community relies solely on quacks and herbal medicines.
Residents explained that the absence of a functioning hospital has led to the loss of loved ones, as the nearest public hospital is far away from them. This development makes it difficult for the sick to receive timely medical attention.
Heartbreaking stories were shared by some of the residents who lost family members due to the lack of a hospital.
The Asipa of the community narrated how he lost his father because he couldn’t find proper transportation to take him to the hospital on time.
He said, “my dad was in need of medical attention and I desperately sought a bike to take him to the hospital. I walked from our place to Ojere to find a motorcycle, but by the time I returned home, my father had already passed away.”
According to him, the lack of a nearby hospital made him lose his father.
The chairman of Afaja Phase 2, who simply identified himself as Jimoh, shared the tragic loss of his sister, when she was seriously sick, due to the absence of a hospital in the community.
He expressed frustration over the situation, lamenting that it is a recurring problem for many in the community.
Also, a resident, Mr. Taofeek Bidemi, shared a harrowing experience when his pregnant wife needed urgent medical attention.
With no hospital in the community, he said, they had to rely on a neighbour’s motorcycle to transport her to the Federal Medical Center, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta which he said gulped over N120,000, for treatment and drugs, without other miscellaneous fees.
Bidemi said he was fortunate that his wife recovered, saying, that, the incident highlighted the difficulties faced by residents in accessing medical care.
“If not for God, she would have been dead because I had no other means to transport her to the hospital,” he said.
…Only 13% Nigerians Have Access To Drinking Water — NFG, UNICEF
Infographic on Nigeria access to clean water in 5 years
Just like Afaja Community, a report has shown that only the rich, or wealthy urban populations enjoy the highest level of access to safe drinking water, leaving marginalized communities at a significant disadvantage.
According to a 2021 Water Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) report by Nigeria’s federal government and UNICEF, only 13% of all Nigerians have access to safely-managed drinking water services.
A research done by the Borgen Project has also shown that Nigeria has access to surface water and water that comes from underground. However, only 19 percent of the Nigerian population has access to adequate drinking water.
According to Dataphyte, the most recent data on access to drinking water in Nigeria says that over 60 million Nigerians do not have access to drinking water.
The report further reveals that in five states, access to drinking water is less than 50%, painting a distressing picture of the situation on a regional level.
Astonishingly, not a single state in Nigeria can boast of 100% access to drinking water. These findings bring to light the urgent need for effective measures to address this critical issue.
Access to services supplying unsafe drinking water is more widespread, however; the 2021 WASHNORM report notes that 67% of the total Nigerian population uses basic (i.e. not safely managed) water supply services.
…Ogun Prone To Infections As 81% Residents Rely on Groundwater
Insufficient water intake can lead to dehydration and various health problems such as Eczema, Fluctuation in Blood Pressure, Urine Infection, Gastritis, Ulcers, and Obesity, a study has shown.
It has also been gathered that inadequate water consumption can also result in additional health issues including constipation, kidney stones, and headaches.
The research article by ResearchGate highlights that urinary tract infections are among the most common community-acquired infections in Nigeria.
The study assessed the sources and providers of water in Ogun State and found that 81% of residents rely on groundwater resources, while only 14.9% receive water from public utilities.
Additionally, over 75% of respondents source water for themselves, and 65% expressed a preference not to pay for water services even if the government were to make them available.
A recent report by the Ogun State Water Corporation has also revealed that Ogun State is facing a high risk of infections due to its heavy reliance on groundwater for drinking purposes.
…We Have Limited Funds — LG Chairman
Afaja is under the Obafemi-Owode local government area of the state, PLATFORM TIMES reached out to the chairman of the council, Lanre Ogunsola who explains the council’s efforts.
Ogunsola in a statement, emphasized that the local government is one of the biggest councils in Nigeria.
According to him, funds released to the LG are not enough to carry out all the necessary projects to be done.
He, however, mentioned that many projects are ongoing in the local government area, stressing that the availability of boreholes is determined by the funds released to the local government.
“The reality of boreholes in all strata of Obafemi-Owode centers on the availability of funds released to the Local Government,” he said.
He, therefore, urged the residents of Afaja community to be patient with him, adding that he is going to attend to their needs.
He said, “I know my people need these essentials, and I would love to bring them happiness in their place of residence.
“However, the limited funds are hindering me from swiftly providing this assurance to them. I humbly request their patience with me as we work towards providing the necessary aid.”
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