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COVID 19: Expert urges FG to make water available in rural areas, public places

…Says strategy best in fight against pandemic

From Kehinde Adewole

An expert in well water and borehole drilling and National President, Association of Waterwell Drilling Rig Owners And Practitioners (AWDROP), Michael Ale, has urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, provide wells and borehole for Nigerians, especially those living in rural areas, adding that running water remains very essential towards the collective fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.

Ale, who noted that rural dwellers are more vulnerable to the raging pandemic and other diseases if they cannot assess clean running water, urged the Federal Government to take effective and efficient action towards drilling wells and borehole in these areas.

The National President of AWDROP also revealed that many rural and semi-urban areas in Nigeria currently get water either from the stream or wells that are contaminated and sometimes, on-site off grid; mechanical Generator powered or hand pumps.

He reminded that one of the main preventive instruction from the World Health Organisation (WHO) against the raging COVID-19 is to wash hands under running taps without touching taps for hygienic purposes, saying: “But, where are the running taps especially in the villages where many children have to daily visit a hand Pump facility and take a stroke by touching the handle  before water can be made available for their house chores.”

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Ale further noted that, “Stay at home order is effective in developed countries because their water infrastructures are piped, bit this is not so in developing countries like Nigeria.

“Many houses in the rural areas are running out of water. Who is their mouthpiece? They can’t directly air their views to the government, that’s why you cannot get any related views on scarcity or non-availability of water during this pandemic.”

Ale who is a waterwell and borehole drilling engineer and consultant on water to many international organisations across the globe, said that government at all levels should as a matter of urgency embark on massive drilling of borehole which is the quickest win to solving this raging pandemic as one major preventive campaign strategy against the spread of COVID-19.

He continued, “The Federal Government in some of its ongoing awareness campaigns and jingles has been advocating and advising people to always wash their hands in running water, but the question is how many of such facility is on ground?

“Even some of the advocates and political office holders who had been at the fore front of this campaign are also seen washing their hands in water basin contrary to what they had been preaching to their followers?

This is not right, it exposes the weakness of the leaders in providing adequate infrastructure to the common man.”

The AWDROP national President and development resource person also assured that the association was ready to positively and effectively collaborate with relevant government, political office holders and non-governmental organizations to provide water for all.

He emphasised the importance of water in human lives, saying:  “… especially at this time that people are scouting for life, forgetting that water is life.

“Portable and affordable water remains one of the measures taken across the world to also curb community spread of COVID-19 which is now the next phase of the spread of the virus, and this can only be subdued with adequate provision of water, but the strategy  must be adaptive.

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“On-site Sanitation and environmental hygiene  is being advocated by Water Sanitation and Hygeine experts around the world,  especially in the rural areas because of the need to get water from the public Boreholes.

“We, therefore, advised the Federal Government to provide water in schools, hospitals, markets, motor parks, religious centers and other places identified as public places. This gesture will sure help in post covid-19 sustenance.

“Government have the capacity to do more with less by subsidising borehole cost for Nigerians through their Agro-Rural Water Supply Support Initiative (ARUWASSI).

“I, as the National Coordinator of this project which is a collaborative initiative between AWDROP and FMARD assure government on the current capacity of our association to provide such assistance through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, as more Rigs had been procured to manage this current situation,” he said.