Nigeria: Access to water improves a family’s income and nutrition (by Anne Mireille Nzouankeu, for Farm Radio Weekly)

| February 24, 2014

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Fourteen-year-old Tisha Gambo lives in Kurudu, on the outskirts of Abuja, Nigeria. Her daily task is to operate a manual pump which draws water to irrigate the small garden behind her family’s compound. Her mother, Unero Gambo, does the household chores while directing her daughter’s efforts.

Mrs. Gambo and her three children used to walk several kilometres a day to collect drinking water. But good access to water has changed everything.

Mrs. Gambo’s husband died five years ago. She earned a little cash from selling doughnuts, but needed more income to feed her family. So when the government dug a well in her neighbourhood in 2010, she started to grow vegetables.

She uses most of the vegetables to feed her family, and sells the rest. Mrs. Gambo is overjoyed that she no longer has to wonder what her children will eat. She says, “I only have to take a walk through my garden to gather their food.”

The government contributed 70% of the cost of the well and community members raised the rest. Mrs. Gambo had no money, but was able to contribute in-kind by working as a labourer on the construction site.

Rufus Onyeanusi works at the Federal Ministry of Water, and is in charge of issues involving access to water. Under his leadership, several wells have been dug in rural areas. He explains: “We have done this because Nigeria’s policy is to [provide] safe drinking water to all Nigerians.”

The Kurudu borehole supplies 26 families, and has helped improve the lives of everyone in the community. Fresh water has reduced the frequency of diarrhoea, and helped farmers like Mrs. Gambo make their small gardens bloom.

Mrs. Gambo knows that good access to water was the key to changing her fortunes. She says, “Without the presence of this water pump, and its regular supply of water, I would have not been able to establish this garden.”

Recent Notes to broadcasters on water and irrigation are available from FRW #258, August 2013: