Linking Journalism with the Web of Life
Before 1996, Baruwa community in Alimosho area of Lagos Nigeria depended on their groundwater for drinking and domestic use. All that changed when they discovered that the more than 180 wells in the area had suddenly become greasy and smelly.
The traditional head Haliju Baruwa said they were alarmed when their domestic animals started dying and so many people falling ill at the same time: 'we had to take sample to the laboratory. The result showed that our groundwater has been polluted with various petroleum products and we were warned not to consume it any more ' Alhaji Baruwa said the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC is responsible for their untold hardship: 'The fault is from the NNPC pipeline running across the community. We are sure there is a leakage but despite series of complaints, they are yet to come to our aid'
One would wonder why the community had not taken a drastic measure to address this serious problem for twenty years. Joseph Akinola Ogungbamgbe one of the community leaders said 'we had a consultant before but we suspected he compromised our situation and that was why the problem lingered on for years unattended to. However we have contracted a new consultant that is planning to go to court if the Lagos State Government does not take further action to provide alternative water for us'
With a population of more than 500,000, we were told the community had several small scale industries that became crippled because of the contamination of the water in the area.
For more than two decades the residents have relied on water vendors and for those who cannot afford it, they trek long distances in search of clean and free groundwater to use. Juliana Agbomkhina one of the residents who has lived in the community for 19 years says it is has been terrible: 'on the average, I spend more than 20 dollars monthly on water. Most times I am not even sure of the source of water I buy so I just have to boil the water before drinking. I am still dealing with the rashes that will not disappear since I got infected by the contaminated water several years ago'
Nigeria is a signatory to several international meetings on Water where promises were made to improve the country's Water and sanitation sector. However, more than 90 million Nigerians are yet to have access to safe drinking water. Also 130,000 Nigerian children under the age of 5 are still dying every year from preventable water borne diseases. According to a UNDP Report, Nigeria may not achieve the Millennium
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