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Bauchi – the Suwasa Experience [opinion]

| September 30, 2012 More

The National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2008 reported that access to water supply in Bauchi State is 36 per cent and to achieve the MDGs target of water supply by 2015, the percentage of Bauchi State residents who are accessing clean water must increase to 68 per cent.

Based on the state’s population and daily water demand in 2010 was 308,140.40m 3/d (with Bauchi town alone requiring about 54,840 m3/d). The designated available capacity is 77, 106 m3/d, leaving a short fall of 123,212.68 m3/d, while the installed capacities produce about 53, 122.39 m3/d which is roughly two thirds of the designated available capacity. (Source: BSWB 2011).

With the above statistics, it has become imperative that the state has to take a proactive stand to address the lingering water supply access for both human and animal consumption. To address the sub-sector to achieve the MDGs, the state government resource allocation and mobilizing additional financial resources to address the funding gaps.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) intervention in the state water sector through the Sustainable Water and Sanitation in Africa (SUWASA) programme is not only timely, but heaven sent. It is worthy to note that the state is the only one within West African that is currently benefitting from the SUWASA programme. The SUWASA programme is implementing a wide range of sector and utility reforms to help the state to achieve a complete turnaround in the delivery of water services, and increase by over one million the number of people with access to adequate water services. It is a three-year intervention that would address the wide range of challenges which prevent the State Water Board from providing water and sanitation services to its population. This, the programme, intends to achieve by improving on the performance of the Bauchi State Water Board through institutional and policy reforms at the state level which will eventually led to the Board having full operational and financial autonomy.

At the onset of the programme in 2010, SUWASA, in collaboration with relevant state MDAs, had taken a holistic approach by carrying out an assessment of the Bauchi State current status on the water sector using the standardized measurement and assessment tools as developed by the Water and Sanitation Programme of the World Bank. This resulted in the state having an updated edition of the current State Status Overview (SSO). The purpose of the SSO on water and sanitation in the state it to assess how the state is fairing towards the MDGs target on water and sanitation which is, to halve the proportion of the population without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Also, the SSO can assist the state government in developing measures to reform the water and sanitation sector with a view to making it more efficient, sustainable and more responsive to the needs of the people of the state. The SSO report has examined the sector at both the state and local government levels, relying on available documentation and consultation with stakeholders to among other things, to identify the much needed policy actions that will address wider sector challenges.

With regards to data collections, several meetings were held with stakeholders in the Bauchi state water and sanitation sector. A draft report containing the findings was developed and presented to stakeholders for validation. Participants at series of workshops, which is being facilitated by USAID-SUWASA, come from all key actors that include representatives from relevant MDAs, private sector entrepreneurs and members of a coalition of non-governmental organizations. It is important to note that the workshops were aimed to bring together all information collected from interviews with various stakeholders with a view to developing a comprehensive framework that will bring about the much needed reform in the sector. Together with SUWASA, participants had developed a clear road map for a comprehensive turnaround of the water and sanitation sector in Bauchi State. The high level attendance and participation in the workshops was quite encouraging and it also reflects the commitment with which the stakeholders in the state have towards improving service delivery for the citizens of the state and even beyond.

For Bauchi State Government, water supply and sanitation are tools for wealth generation, especially for women in the rural areas and also an avenue to reduce poverty among its citizens. This commitment was clearly demonstrated in so many instances, for instance, a grant of one billion naira that was accessed by the state government under the conditional grant scheme (CGS) of the MDGs with an additional N200 million as counterpart from the state was entirely channeled to provide water and sanitation in the state. Last year, Governor Isa Yuguda has approved N735.2 million for the improvement of Bauchi township water supply. The project is a 57 borehole-based water scheme in strategic areas. This is in addition to the complete turnaround maintenance of the main water treatment plant in Gubi, procurement of chemicals and diesel regularly and resuscitation of some major overhead tanks in the metropolis and all the local government headquarters.

Though the question on the lips of so many people is, why is it that water is still not enough, in my view many factors can be attributed to that; some of these can be said to be the ever increasing population in the state, interstate migration due to the crises in neighbouring states, rural-to-urban migration, non revenue water et al, but the major factor is the infrastructural decay with regards to the piping of major water distribution from the treatment plant, because some of these infrastructures are very obsolete that no desirable result can be measured. Some of the equipment were installed some 30 years ago, wear and tire had taken toll on it. Despite all the challenges, Bauchi state Government in collaboration with USAID- SUWASA intends to carry out the water sector reform by adopting the integrated approach through a combination of strategic partnership and alliances for the provision and expansion of physical facilities, sustained hygiene education, community empowerment (to promote active participation) and most importantly the involvement of private sector and NGOs towards service delivery.

The programme of SUWASA is in line with the new Bauchi State Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) policy that will soon be implemented. The result of the series of consultations with stakeholders, study tours, workshops and meetings as conducted by the Bauchi State Ministry of Water Resources and SUWASA had gave birth to a comprehensive institutional, regulatory and legal framework that, when implemented, will catapult the water sector to an enviable height

The writer is Senior Special Assistant on Donor Partners/ Multilaterals Relations to Governor Isa Yuguda.

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