CAPPA – Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa

Lack of Water in Epe Community Plunges Residents into Hardship

The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) visited Odo-Iragunshi and Poka communities in Eredo Local Council Development Area in Epe on July 16, 2022, as part of interventions in the water sector crisis of Lagos and campaign for a Just city as opposed to urbanisation which leaves poor communities at the mercy of the rich. The Just City project jointly undertaken by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and CAPPA is focused, in part, on mobilizing Lagos Communities for Participatory Water Governance.[spacer height=”25px”]

The visit was also an opportunity for the CAPPA team to obtain first-hand information from community members and residents on challenges faced in accessing water for use, and the status of the Epe and Odo-iragunshi waterworks. The CAPPA team comprised of the Director of Programmes, Philip Jakpor, Associate Directors, Aderonke Ige, and Olatunji Buhari, and Digital media officer Olalekan Fagbenro.[spacer height=”25px”]

Details

The meeting in Odo-Iragunshi commenced early in the wet morning, with opening remarks by Olatunji Buhari, giving a brief background of CAPPA and Our Water Our Right Campaign which started in 2014 with the thrust of advancing the human right to water and challenging proposed water privatization plans of the government.[spacer height=”25px”]

Providing background information to community members on the survey and data collection process

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Buhari explained that in order to have a full grasp of the water challenges in the community, CAPPA had developed data gathering tools including questionnaires, to be filled by community members, for proper documentation and advocacy purposes. He also revealed that the outcome of the survey will inform the next line of CAPPA’s advocacy and will serve as a tool to engage the government and its representatives in the house of assembly.[spacer height=”25px”]

Aderonke Ige, while expressing delight at the impressive turnout of women in the meeting, said that the concerns of the community will be amplified through the media for government to take required and necessary further actions.  She informed the gathering that there will be an expanded townhall meeting of the communities later in the year where CAPPA will bring journalists to hear from them directly on the water situation in the communities.[spacer height=”25px”]

CAPPA officer providing context for the investigative mission

On his part, Philip Jakpor said that lack of water adds more burden to women and girls who have to travel long distances, experiencing risks to get water for domestic purposes including cooking, laundry, and maintaining proper healthy hygiene. Jakpor urged the community to express their concerns freely and fill the form correctly as it will be used for advocacy going forward and particularly to ultimately bring the issues to decision-makers.  Accordingly, CAPPA distributed questionnaires and provided guidance to the community residents during the data gathering process. The questionnaire had three key components, namely: availability, accessibility, and affordability of water.[spacer height=”25px”]

At the meeting in Poka, there was also a large turnout of residents who were excited that the CAPPA team was visiting again after a similar visit in 2016. They were also given similar background on why the documentation of their concerns is very important. Residents also expressed dismay at the challenges to accessing water that they faced as well as the lack of electricity and drainage systems to channel wastewater away from the community whenever it rains. They agreed that there was a need to amplify their frustrations in the media to get to the right people in government to reverse the situation in the community.[spacer height=”25px”]

TESTIMONIES

Adesanya Oguntimirin, Poka, Community Rep: I have been in the struggle for our people to have adequate and safe water for long. I have also been part of grassroots movement against water privatization, and we have done a lot of activities including protests at the Lagos State House of Assembly and Governor Babajide Sanwo – Olu’s office.  We have also written petitions to our former representative, Olusegun Olulade on this matter.[spacer height=”25px”]

I have been living in Epe for the past 20 years and we used to get public water twice a week but now it is no more. The waterworks are no longer functioning. A gallon of water we used to buy for N200 is now N600, all because the waterworks are not working[spacer height=”25px”]

Arasi Funmilayo, Poka:  I am a farmer and I need a lot of water for my crops but there is no water. The money I make from my harvest is less than N15000 in a month, yet I use over N9000 to buy water. Even in my house, we depend on a borehole and when there is no electricity, we can’t access water. We have to travel like 3 kilometers to access water. The water situation in Epe is worse than in most parts of Lagos. Please we will appreciate it if CAPPA can help us reach out to the government to find a solution to our water challenge. We want the government to help us to fix the waterworks.[spacer height=”25px”]

Bisi Olobe, Poka: I have been part of the Our Water Our Right struggle since 2017. And I want to appreciate you for staying on course. Our government has neglected their duty and our representatives have also forgotten us. The politicians only come here to seek votes; they don’t ask about the community’s needs. We don’t have water; we don’t have electricity. We want the government to repair the waterworks so that we can have water to drink and use for other things. The money we expend on water daily is too much. In my household, I spend up to N500 daily, and still it is not enough.[spacer height=”25px”]

Abiono Ibrahim, Odo-Iragushi: Since I have been living here there has never been government water. I had a well, but it has dried up. For many of us here, our only source of water is borehole. And the people who own the borehole need electricity to pump water. If there is no electricity, we cannot fetch water. We are 8 in my family so you can guess how much I spend on water daily. We are not even talking about the distance that my children will have to travel to get the water before heading to school. It is a very bad situation here. We want the government to make public water work and lay pipes that will connect to public taps. Also, the gutters are not enough to drain wastewater. [spacer height=”25px”]

Mustapha Kehinde, Poka: First, I thank you for coming to our community because we have not seen any organization like yours to discuss with us on the issue of water.  Where I was living because I came to Epe in 2001 there was water but here I have not seen water for one day. I used to live close to Epe mini waterworks but we use borehole and the water is not clean we have put alum in it before we can use it. It is very bad. [spacer height=”25px”]

Toyin Apena, Poka:  Please help us tell the government to give us water. We don’t have work, water, and food in this community. My neighbour has a borehole but does not allow us to fetch water because of the money he spends on powering his generator to pump water. Please government should come to our aid.[spacer height=”25px”]

Oladipupo Majek Ismail, Odo-Iragunshi: As FELA said water has no enemy but we know government is our own enemy. Water is life but go around this community and check if you will see water. It has been hell. We travel far distances to fetch borehole to get water to wash, clean and drink which is too expensive. We are ready to join hands with CAPPA to fight water privatization. Our Water Our Right.[spacer height=”25px”]

Oladipupo Majek Ismail, Odo-Iragunshi: As FELA said water has no enemy but we know government is our own enemy. Water is life but go around this community and check if you see water. It has been hell. We travel far distances to fetch water to wash, clean, and drink which is too expensive. We are ready to join hands with CAPPA to fight water privatization. Our Water Our Right.[spacer height=”25px”]

OBSERVATIONS

When the CAPPA team visited the Epe and Odo-irangushi mini waterworks, it was observed that the facilities have not operated for years and are now been overrun by weeds. CAPPA observed that the Odo-iragushi waterwork is under lock and key and there was also no one to speak. The team’s visit to Epe mini waterworks also confirmed the non-functional state of the facility. In fact, it was gathered that the facility stopped working in 2007.[spacer height=”25px”]

When the team spoke with individuals residing near both facilities, they revealed that they depended on boreholes for their drinking and other domestic uses. The team learned that since assumption of office, the current helmsman of the Lagos State Water Corporation (LWC), Engr. Muminu Badmus, who is a native of Epe itself, has not paid a working visit to any of the waterworks to ascertain their production challenges.[spacer height=”25px”]

CAPPA’S RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE LAGOS GOVERNMENT

  • Lagos State government should immediately commence repair and resuscitation of the Epe Mini Waterworks and Odo-Iragushi waterworks
  • The Lagos State government should reject water privatization and commodification of water in all its forms and dynamics
  • Governor Babajide Sanwo Olu’s administration should uphold the human right to water which is one of its core obligations to the people.
  • The Group Managing Director of Lagos Water Corporation, Engr. Mumuni Badmus should immediately conduct an on-the-spot assessment of the waterworks and take steps to rehabilitate them.[spacer height=”25px”]

Photo Gallery

Recording testimonials from community members as they shared their experiences
CAPPA team on the road to Epe Mini Waterworks with some Epe community members
Laying a background for survey and assessment in Poka community.
Laying a narrative background for survey and assessment for Iragushi community members
Residents of Iragushi community painting a gloomy picture of the lack of water in their community.
The team expressing shock at the ghostly state of the waterworks at Odo-Iragushi
The waterworks at Iragushi under lock and key without any trace of life or production activities
Residents of Poka community paying rapt attention to the team as they presented the purpose of investigative findings.
Lending a helping hand to some members of the community as they communicated their experiences through narrations
Members of Poka community filling out the questionnaires judiciously during the data gathering exercise.

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