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The various stages in the historical development of water supply in Epeilo, Otukpa, Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State

 

CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

    1. Introduction

      This chapter lays the foundation to the historical development of water supply in Epeilo, Otukpa, Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State from 1970 to 2015. It also encompasses the background to the study, statement of the research problem, aim and objectives of the study, research questions, significance of the study, scope and limitations of the study, among others.

    1. Background to the Study

    From time immemorial, water has been considered by many as a necessity for survival. In fact, the importance of water anywhere on the globe cannot be overemphasized. Water stands at the focal point of physical, health, economic and social development. It is so important in the maintenance of health, cultivation of crops for food, management of the environment, livestock rearing and even in cottage industries such as brick – making. Thus, for development to take place anywhere and anytime, water is very essential. Satisfaction of human needs and aspirations are some of the main objectives of development. Development is focused on meeting the basic needs of all and at the same time, stretching forth the opportunity of satisfaction for a better life.

    However, in as much as water is very important and contributes greatly in development, over “783 million people in the World are still without access to consistent safe drinking water”.[1] Just like the diamond, water is a strategic commodity not distributed evenly throughout the World. For instance, “ a Country like Canada controls about 2, 850 billion cubic meters of fresh water (2.5 percent of the World total) with a population of only 31million people (0.5 percent of the World population). In contrast, the Nile provides merely 83 billion cubic meters of water to a combined population of over 170 million people, which is projected to increase to over 300 million people in the next 30 years. It is estimated that the average person requires 20 to 40 litres of water per day for drinking and sanitation. While Canadians consume on average 350 litres of water a day, Ethiopians have faced severe water shortages which led to sweeping famines in 1973 and 1984, killing thousands of people. The lack of large – scale irrigation projects leaves Ethiopia’s agriculture at the mercy of erratic seasonal rainfall”.[2]

    No doubt, Napoleon by the 18th century stated, “If I were to rule a Country like Egypt, not a single drop of water would be allowed to flow into the Mediterranean”.[3]  This is due to the key role water plays in the shaping of any society. Today, so many analyses have been drawn concerning the upsurge of  water-related conflicts. Egypt’s former minister of foreign affairs, Boutros Boutros Ghali, rightly speculated as far back as 1988 that, “ the next war in our region will be over the waters of the Nile, not politics”.[4] In fact, the need and usefulness of water is fast replacing oil because, in the absence of water, majorly all living things will die.

     A major step at ensuring adequate water supply in Nigeria dates back to the colonial era when the First Ten Year Plan “(1944 to 1956) included in its overall budget of about 5.7 total expenditure for the sector”.[5] To bring into reality the government First Ten Year Plan, concrete open wells were constructed under the supervision of Public Works Department (PWD) of the Regional Governments who were responsible for providing safe water to the rural communities. From independence (Nigeria, 1st October 1960), so many Water Supply Programmes have been undertaken by several bodies. Among these bodies are the, Federal Government, States Governments, Local Governments and Donors such as World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

  In addition, frantic attempts at addressing rural water supply and sanitation problems began with the startup of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decades (IDWSSD) in 1981 which established Universal target. Just after the IDWSSD came the World Summit for children in 1990, which aimed at providing universal access to safe water and sanitation alongside the total eradication of guinea worm. In Nigeria, “UNICEF (from 1981 to 2010) assisted State Water and Sanitation Projects, National Borehole Programme (1981 to 1986), Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), Japanese International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) 1992 to 1994, Petroleum Trust Fund (1996 to 1999), Improved Access to Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (1996 to 2010) and Development of Local Manufacture of Hand Pumps (1988 to 2010)”[6].

    The general level of water supply in Epeilo, Otukpa before the intervention of the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund from 2010 to 2012 was very poor. Being a rural area made the entire situation pathetic as water was either scarce or expensive when available. Many trekked long distances in search of water while others depended on polluted water from ponds, streams, rainwater and floods for domestic use, thereby increasing health hazards. Though agencies such as the Benue State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency and the Water Board function to provide water in the rural areas, the situation often remains ailing and discouraging. This study attempts a historical analysis of the situation.

    1. Statement of the Research Problem

       The main purpose of this study is to examine and discuss the various stages in the historical development of water supply in Epeilo, Otukpa, Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State circa 1970 up to 2015. It traces the sources of water supply and the experiences of Epeilo inhabitants up to 1970, the various means by which the people derived in order to acquire water for their sustenance.

       Furthermore, the study unveils the obstacles and challenges the inhabitants of Epeilo faced during the period covered by this study (1970 up to 2015). A transit into the period after 1970 shows the changes in the supply of water to Epeilo rural community. This work also takes time to examine the challenges associated with water supply in Epeilo since 1970. It goes on to identify the various efforts undertaken to curtail water supply challenges in Epeilo after 1970 and their yielding results.

     In addition, this work makes an analysis of the physical, health and economic impacts the shortage in water supply brought upon the people. It further goes on to discuss the watershed the intervention of UNICEF has also brought upon the people as regards to water supply.

    1. Aim and Objectives of the Study

 

   The aim of this research work is to bring into writing a history of water supply development in a society called Epeilo, Otukpa, Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State. Other related objectives of the study include:   (1). to analyse and discuss the various sources of water supply in Epeilo, over the space of time.  (2). to demonstrate that Epeilo society had suffered through the ordeal of water scarcity and the implications of this on its development. (3). to showcase the challenges associated with water supply prior to the time of study and within the time of study.  (4). to further illustrate that Epeilo’s contacts with Igbo’s during the Nigeria Civil War brought more reformed water supply techniques.

    1. Research Questions

      In dealing with  the  development of water supply in Epeilo circa 1970 up to 2015, this research work raises questions such as: (1). what were the various sources of water supply in Epeilo society prior to 1970? (2). what was the nature and character of water scarcity in the community within the period under review? (3). to what extent was the development of Epeilo affected by water scarcity within the period of 1970 – 2015? (4). what has been the role of the government and nongovernmental Organisations in tackling water scarcity in Epeilo

    1. Significance of the Study

  This study appreciates the changes which have taken place overtime in the historical development of water supply in Epeilo, from 1970 to 2015. The chronological details of water acquisition techniques and sources are further exposed within the context of this study. 

     Furthermore, this study is not just after the narration of the history of water supply in Epeilo, but focused on bringing to the entire public the need and usefulness of water in the development of any given society. The work is also bent on placing in the minds of those with abilities, the urge of doing something remarkable (in relation to water supply) for societies experiencing shortages in the aspect of access to safe and adequate water supply. It goes on to show the extent at which shortage of adequate water supply affects the lives of individuals and what the provision of adequate water supply can do for a whole Community.

    Finally, the study recognizes all Communities who are presently experiencing shortage in safe water supply, and gives them the assurance that “light may be waiting at the end of their tunnel”, and so they should keep trying. While, at the same time, awakening the minds of governments, donors, philanthropists among others to the task of intervening where and when necessary.

    1. Scope and Limitations of the Study

    The study is principally concerned with the historical development of water supply in Epeilo, Otukpa, Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State, circa 1970 up to 2015. It researches on the history of water scarcity in Epeilo and spans through about four to five decades. The start year, 1970 is very essential in the study of water scarcity in Epeilo because it signifies the end of Nigeria Civil War and the introduction of water ponds by inhabitant soldiers of Epeilo who through contacts with the Igbo’s got the idea.

     Moreover, it is worthwhile to bring into this study the period 2012 owing to the remarkable event that took place, as the year represents the time when the proposal of the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund came into reality through the provision of deep underground boreholes. This research work however spans up to the year 2015 so as to give room for the evaluation of the positive impacts that steady water supply has brought upon the lives of the people in Epeilo.

    1.  Conceptual and Theoretical Framework

     This section focuses on basic concepts and related theoretical issues like Rostow’s growth theory and Modern Social theory. It is viewed that these would enable a basic understanding and proper explanation of the sub – theme.

        Water, water scarcity, water supply, evolution and development are concepts that constitute the fundamentals of this study. Water scarcity is a relative concept and can occur at any society. Water scarcity as implied in this study is the lack of sufficient available water resources to satiate the demands of water usage within a region. It also connotes the shortage of water or an imbalance between demand and availability of water. “Scarcity may be a social construct or the consequence of altered supply patterns stemming from climate change. Scarcity has various causes, most of which are capable of being remedied or alleviated. A society facing water scarcity usually has options. However, scarcity often has its roots in water shortage, and it is in the arid and semi – arid regions affected by droughts, wide climate variability, combined with population growth and economic development”.[7]

        Water supply is the provision of water by public corporations, commercial organizations, community endeavors, or by individuals, usually through a system of pumps and pipes. “The concept of water supply system is made up of three main components that are one – way directional and serially complementary in significance and criticality. They are intrinsically linked through design, function and performance. There are however two broad categories of water sources which are surface and underground sources. Surface water is abstracted directly from streams, rivers, lakes and it contains larger quantities of turbidity, while ground water is usually obtained from wells, springs that feed streams, rivers and lakes”.[8]

        Water (chemical formula: H20) is a “transparent fluid which forms the World’s streams, lakes, oceans and rain, and is the major constituent of the fluids of organisms”.[9] Water is a chemical compound consisting of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen. The name water typically refers to the liquid state of the compound. The solid phase is known as ice and the gas phase is called steam. It is a clear, colorless, odorless and tasteless liquid, H20, essential for most plant and animal life. Evolution however is the slow process of change from one form or level to a better or higher one, or that brings into being a superior or new order. It usually does not take place in a steady progression but constitutes random leaps in different directions.

      Development on the other hand is a complex, ambiguous and elusive term. It could be described as bringing about social change that allows people to achieve their human potential and it is often considered as the process of economic and social transformation anchored on complex cultural, environmental factors and their interactions. “Development is a process of acquiring a sustained growth of a system’s capacity to cope with new continuous changes towards the achievement of progressive political, economic and societal objectives”.[10] However, the primary goal of development is to improve man and his environment.

       This study made use of some development theories as they relate to social change in understanding the discourse. Accordingly, these have to be explain for a deeper understanding of what is being attempted in this work.

     “Social theory can be defined as the study of scientific ways of thinking about social life. It is trained reflection on ways of knowing social life”.[11] Marx contributed his own quota to the development of modern social theory due to the shortcomings of the utopian Socialists and need for humanity according to Marx, to transform her physical environment for enhanced living standards. Marx’s ideas changed in the course of his development, he asserts social processes as never being homogenous but contradictory and dialectical. Society and history are not solely external to man, for it is through man’s own activity as a member of a social class that the historical and social World is created.

  Walt Whitman Rostow posits that a country or state can develop economically by concentrating on resources in short supply to expand beyond local industries to reach the global market and finance the country’s further development. Rostow groups development under five stages namely, traditional society, transitional stage, take off, drive to maturity and high mass consumption. Traditional societies are accustomed with limited technology, possess pre – scientific understandings of gadgets and is yet to begin developing.

    “Transition is however triggered by external influence with the installation of physical infrastructures such as water supplies, transportation systems”[12] among others. These projects will ultimately stimulate an increase in productivity likely increasing the GDP. Take off is generated in a limited number of economic and manufacturing activities such as textiles, while drive to maturity involves modern technology diffusing into a wide variety of industries which then experiences rapid growth. Finally, high mass consumption encompasses the shift from heavy industries into consumer goods such as motor vehicles, generators, among others. Rostow’s model do have some limitations such as being bias towards a Western model of modernization, and it considers mostly large countries with high population.    

         Epeilo, Otukpa can be said to have witnessed the transitional stage in its process of development. Having experienced innovations and new technologies in the water supply sector, these projects will ultimately stimulate an increase in productivity likely increasing the GDP. Thus, as Marx viewed in modern social theory, societies like Epeilo, Otukpa pass through different stages of development with each stage containing contradictions and conflict that promotes social transformation.

    1. Review of Related Literature

    Ochinya, Ojiji (PhD) in his paper, “Idoma Nationhood in the 21st century: The Way Forward” advocates the need to still write and talk of African indigenous nationhood in spite of the said “era of globalization”. He uses Idoma nationhood as a case study to tell of the need for self – identity through one’s culture. Important questions such as, “What makes a nation? Is it all about a people in a defined territory? Does it require some measure of control by the people over their own affairs? are brought to the fore. The author is of the view that, solely defining a nation in terms of geography (population and landmass) “without access to authority over the population and its resource”[13] is far less than the actual meaning of a nation. Thus, for a group of population and landmass to thrive, they must possess authority; and in instances of authority, the people’s confidence and skills are ignited, thereby leading to development which would bring about a way forward.

  The above work may be recommended to desired nation building readers and so, deserves thumbs up because it buttresses and forms bases upon which the study of the historical development of water supply in Epeilo can be built (being an indigenous African work) upon.

       Obekpa, J.A. in his work, “Idoma Origin and Tradition” makes attempts to affirm the dignity of the Idoma people through their ability to trace their origin in an environment created by time and space. The author stresses on the exact origin of the Idoma people as being contradictory and uncertain. He further states some Idoma ethical practices such as re – marriage of a divorced wife, adultery, fighting, idolatry, sin offering, law of repayment, faith in Alekwu, violence, Parents behavior towards their children, reward for honesty, faithfulness among others. Otukpa (according to the author’s literal interpretation, meaning “Night is dangerous”) the district of our case study (historical development of water supply, Epeilo, Otukpa) is the headquarters of Ogbadibo Local Government Area and bounded by the Igala, Owukpa, Orokam and Okpokwu in the North – West, South, and East respectively. The area as a whole has suffered perennial water scarcity as the “maximum distance to be trekked daily by Aioodo who are the furthest from any of the streams mentioned above is more than 15 kilometres and the minimum to be trekked daily by Aiwuno who are  nearest to any of the streams is about 2 – 6 kilometres”.[14] Obekpa’s study is of much importance in the enlightenment of those who are totally ignorant of Idoma history and Otukpa genealogy. Its faces the problems of wrong spellings which may be out of ignorance or typographical error (Instance, line 18-trek, line 20-trecked, of page 76 respectively) alongside poor chronological arrangement and study of the various sources of water for the people.

      Salami, S.O. Water Resources Bulletin. Vol.1. no.5. states improved community water supply and sanitation as having tremendous impacts, on the lives of people such as “reduced morbidity/ mortality, improved productivity/ income, release of women and children from the  drudgery of carrying water over long distances”[15] and even the widening and triggering of development efforts. Salami’s work is however recommendable as governments are advised to increase allocations as regards to water supply, if the problem of water scarcity is to be curbed.

     A study of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources National Urban Water Sector Reform Project, has shown that researches and studies have formerly been carried out as relates to the issue of water scarcity and water supply in Benue State as a whole. Results show that, the state has three main sources of drinking water namely; “the surface water through dams and treatment plants, ground water through boreholes and tube wells, improved hand dug wells and springs and third is rainwater harvesting.”[16] However, promoters of water supply such as the Federal Government, State Government, Local Governments, Donors, communities play vital role in the water sector of the State. Deeper researches into the paper reveals the non- operation nature of various water schemes in the State as cited below, “the inventory of water schemes in the State was carried out. Twenty – Seven surface water schemes were identified, 2 were found to be functional at the time of conducting this study while the remaining 25 were moribund”.[17] In essence, a study of this government reform project is worth recommending as it draws pertinent questions surrounding why there is ineffectiveness as regards to water schemes and water supply in Benue State as a whole.

    Toryina in the work “The Nile Treaty and the Quest for Justice views water as a key necessity for survival, sanitation, health and development. “Rain does not fall on one roof alone”[18] cites an African proverb which may mean the Universal nature of water as all and sundry need water and should therefore have access to water. The rainfall illustration in the above proverb depicts the fact that rain does not just fall for one person, thus access to safe drinking and sanitation must be for all. Further study of the paper is worth the time as its richness and vastness unveils certain knowledge to readers. Therefore, the study is relevant to this work.

      Barkindo B.M. et al (eds) states that, “the riddle of extending the supply of water to other parts of the Province was solved in 1945 when the Central Government took up the challenge in its Ten Year Development Programme for Nigeria. The programme was not only meant to make provision for portable water but also to provide other amenities such as hospitals, roads and so on. It was in view of this that the Development Branch of the Nigerian Secretariat, Lagos, in January 1945, announced in a circular, the procedures the government wanted to follow in ensuring water supplies to Nigerian Communities. For the rural areas, a grant of 1,889,000 Euros was made available from the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund (CDWF)”.[19] Sadly enough, the confusion that may roam in the hearts of many who may have come across the above article is on what happened to the huge proposed monies? Many would therefore agree that an effective implementation of the above programme by 1945 would have laid a concrete foundation to other related water programmes in the Country. In as much the outcome of the ten year programme could be said was poor, the article on this page is worth going through as it buttresses the existence of efforts towards water supply even during the colonial era in Nigeria. Therefore, the Nigerian government must pick up the challenges, and take the bull by it horns.

   Ibok, E.E. et Ekong, E.D. in “Rural Water Supply and Sustainable Development in Nigeria: A Case Analysis of Akwa Ibom State”. American Journal of Rural Development (2014) p.p. 68 to 73 “views safe water and sanitation as essential indicators of sustainable development”.[20]  In this regard, “the United Nations General Assembly, at its Millennium Meeting in 2000, established eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were elaborated and endorsed by the Inter-governmental community at the World Summit on Sustainable Development”.[21]  However, this paper needs a thorough review as to the claim of “serious efforts at addressing rural water supply and sanitation issues began with the on- set of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decades (IDWSSD) in 1981 which established Universal target.”[22] Being a 21st century (presidly, 2014) work, it is expected that realism should have been felt instead of just generalizing. For the author to have stated serious efforts at addressing rural water supply and sanitation issues makes it sound as though it was a frantic continuous activity which had no bumps (such as negligence) and loopholes onto the present era. Thus, such statement need to be addressed or restructured.

     Oluwabunmi Michael in “The Challenges of Water Supply Schemes in the Nigerian context, 2013” is of the opinion that the challenges of water supply in Nigeria include “poor fund management, government insincerity, inadequate information/ education, land problem/ issue, artificial water scarcity alongside maintenance.”[23] And so, Oluwabunmi is quite commendable, as he has tried to enumerate some challenges of water supply in Nigeria, thus creating room which may accommodate solutions.

    Mac Donald A.M. et Calow R. C. are of the opinion that “the widespread development of groundwater is the most affordable and sustainable way of improving access to secure water for the rural poor on the scale required to achieve current coverage targets”.[24] Inadequate access to safe water in most rural areas affect women and children a lot as health and livelihoods become vulnerable to hazards. Even the females (especially young girls) education suffer a great deal as the daily task in search for water supersedes over all other concerns of their lives. However, in a case where groundwater is made available, it is expected such Communities in turn cooperate through maintenance, management and treatment. More readers through recommendation would discover that the article did try to give details concerning ground water occurrence in Africa and what is expected of such societies in securing of the system when done.

     Kevin, E. C. in Water Supply Management Policy in Nigeria: Challenges in the Wetland Area of Niger Delta is of the opinion that in the Niger – Delta wetland include corrupt practices, poor state of infrastructure, low rate of costs recovery, ineffective compliance to policies among others. However, the above problems could be curbed if stakeholders take full participation, enforcement and implementation of existing laws and ensure economic efficiency.

     Fapojuwo O.A. in the article “Water Is life” explains that “the chemistry of water is the alchemy of life”.[25] He opines water to be a global need thus, one of the vital criteria for would be settlers. In fact, he goes further in his write up to state the key role water played both in the civilization of Egypt and London. The above civilizations wouldn’t have seen the break of day if not for the Nile and the Thames, respectively.

     However, though hindrances to water supply stands, it’s even more painful in cases of unreliability and distance to water supply source. The governments though at the time (1981 – 85 plan) are said to have put their hands on deck, it’s still sad that inputs for water supply continue to lag behind other infrastructural facilities.

        In the Benue State Water Corporation. Priority Water Supply Schemes states that Otukpa lacks reliable surface water source and the conveyance of river water from a distance would be very costly. The work bear proposals of two bore holes that would be drilled in Otukpa, it however did not tell of the exact location for these projects. Furthermore, it has also been noted that, “two boreholes drilled in 1962 to a depth of 85.3m and 205.0m with a water table depth of 146.0m and a tested yield of 14.5 cu.m/hr have not been equipped and exploited”.[26] It is quite unbelievable but actual that almost two decades gone by, no form of responsibility seem to show forth as to completing the erection of the water supply projects in the above statement. Drawing from the above illustration, it could be further pondered with questions on what really caused the halt of which no one seem to be standing for. Could this be the fault of the Community, or a mismanagement and diversion of supposed resources? No one can fully tell except a thorough research is made to trace the above inefficiency.

        The paper however, talks on the impact that the increase in per capita water consumption could bring upon the standard of living in Otukpa as a whole. It buttresses the assertion that water is key to development and in cases where the standard of livelihood is raised, development is also prone to take place because more hands and lives would be involved in the societal activities.

        Samjeje, O. L. E. states that Idoma mean two things namely, ‘ethnic group and language (Uche) group’. They are said to have been “admitted into the main stream of Kwararafa’s political process when the headquarters of the Kingdom moved southwards to Biepi (c. 1520 - 1550), the third headquarters of the Kwararafa after Santolo (c. 1349 - 1385) and Tagara (c. 1463 - 1493)”.[27] The study however focuses on the geography and people of Okpoga, Okpoga during the Colonial period and how Colonialism truncated the people’s development, family life of Okpoga traditional community and how Alekwu jealously guides the institution of marriage just as is done among the social life of the Epeilo people in Otukpa. It further goes on to explain social change and socio – political organisations at Okpoga and encourages the necessity of cohesion which would bring about growth and development in Okpoga and Idoma Land as a whole.

        Jerry, Agada (ed) in Orokam – A Road Map for Socio – Economic and Political Advancement brings forward some of the criteria for socio – economic and political advancement (otherwise, development). The study states, “development and advancement as two sides of the same coin. Advancement and development share the same ingredients. For the duo to occur, center attention on the human person is required, use of indigenous knowledge and culture and also the broad participation of the people in the process.”[28]

       Yet, it is noted that times have changed and is still changing thus we must change our dancing steps to rhyme with the drumbeats. Development plans without requisite data is prone to crash land. Therefore, all advancement and developments must take into cognizance the human potentials, leaving life to “fate alone can never propel anybody or people to a desired and sustainable height of success in the present dispensation”.[29] We as a community must put together efforts at ensuring the working of our infrastructures such as electricity, bore holes and also establish a Committee that will relate to developmental agencies such as BNARDA, BERWASA, Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority, NAIC among others. In so doing, it would be easier to seek the assistance of some of the non – governmental organisations that are there to fund rural development on counterpart contributory basis and also enable partnership with International donors and organisations.

      Nurazzura, M.D. et al discuss anthropological theories such as evolutionism, diffusionism, historical particularism, the functionalist school, culture and personality school, structuralism, cultural ecology and neo – evolutionism, cultural materialism and Marxist anthropology, symbolic and interpretative anthropology, feminist anthropology and the effect of postmodernism.

      Myrdal (1957; 164) expressed the importance of the theories by saying: “Facts come to mean something only as ascertained and organized in the frame of a theory. Indeed, facts have no existence as part of scientific knowledge outside such as a frame.”[30] However, important theories to this study such as diffusionism is defined as “the spread of certain ideas, customs or practices from one culture to another”.[31] Diffusionism as an anthropological school of thought began growing in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

      Evolutionism on its own represents a process of gradual development. It is the process through which simple things, over the time, become complex. However, after the Second World War, the highly criticized issue of evolutionism got momentum by some new anthropologists. Among the new anthropologists was a main theorist, Leslie White who propounded neo – evolutionism. He highlights the main causes of cultural evolution and change to be factors like energy use and technology. The more complex the use of technology, the more complex becomes the cultural development. Neo – evolutionism is often referred to as ‘general evolution’ because of its neutrality in the mention of cases or culture.

       Hussein, Yahaya speaks on the eluding nature of pipe borne water despite the colossal funds spent. Reports released by non – governmental organization shows that the Country has made substantial progress in providing safe water to the people than in time past. In fact, World Bank reports has also “put the percentage of Nigerians having access to safe water at 69 percent, an improvement from 68 percent in 2014”.[32] However, most Nigerians hardly wonder how the water he or she drink is treated. Most water boards have gone moribund while others do not treat water well before discharging to consumers. In Benue State which is our Case Study State proves potable water to be a mirage. “The continued inaccessibility of clean water to the residents has constituted a matter for grave concern, with most residents in the State’s major towns wondering if the State Government would ever be able to tackle the problem which has grown seemingly intractable recently”.[33] 

      Biplob, K. B. et Bablu H. M. pose scarcity of pure drinking water to be one of the major problems in Bangladesh during the dry season (November to March). The increasing population however continues to worsen the crisis of water scarcity. Rainwater harvesting is encouraged as it stand as some of the cleanest naturally occurring water and exhibit potentials against acute arsenic poisoning as well as physical water scarcity.

      Onoja, S. B. et al group sources of water to comprise of surface water, groundwater and rainwater harvesting. Rain water harvesting is the interception of precipitation for human use close where it falls before it sinks into the ground. The study further goes on to recognize rooftop rainwater harvesting as a common practice in Otukpa Community. Rain water harvesting supply most times turns out to be unable to sustain the people through the dry periods. However, results indicate that some of the water points contained bacteria due to inadequate protection from contamination in the environment.

       Barnard, A (2000) opines that anthropology as a discipline which is very conscious of its history. The word ‘anthropology’ is ultimately from the Greek (anthropos, ‘human’ plus, logos (‘discourse’ or ‘science’). Its maiden usage was circa the 16th century while theologians used the term to attribute human – like features to their deity by the 17th and 18th centuries. Scholars tended to use ‘ethnology’ for the study of both the cultural difference and the features which identify the common humanity of the World’s peoples. Bachofan once wrote: “Generally speaking, the development of the human race knows no leaps, no sudden progressions, but only gradual transitions; it passes through many stages, each of which may be said to bear within it the preceding and the following stage”.[34]

         Myrdal, G (1957) in his work ‘Rich Lands and Poor’, points the problem of inequality among nations even though spread effects from rich to poor countries does occur. However, cumulative causation concept provides a fruitful approach to analyzing vicious circles and the rise of inequalities. Though, cases of cumulative process converging to a stable equilibrium are prone to happen, the former (inequalities) is quite problematic. Femi Akinola in his write up stated, “water from some aquifer to be prone to pollution with attendant health hazards, such as typhoid, gastroentitis, diarrhea and other related water – borne diseases”.[35] He further went on to narrate on how they live in a city that is surrounded by water yet they find it extremely difficult to get portable water for consumption.

        Mc Gee, R. J. et Warms, R. L. (2012) states theory to be the core of anthropology. Theory usually assists in the determination of the types of questions anthropologists ask and the sorts of information they collect. It is critical because data are made meaningful by the use of the theoretical tool. Nevertheless, “the production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness, is at first directly interwoven with the material activity and the material intercourse of men, the language of real life”.[36] Man distinguished himself from an animal as soon as he began to produce his means of subsistence, thus indirectly producing his actual material life.

       From the onset of their adoption by all United Member States in 2000, the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals have become a universal framework for development. Some of its goals include, “eradicate extreme poverty/hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development”.[37] The body is also targeted at integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environment resources. United Nations stated in article 55 that it would help promote “higher standards of living, full employment and conditions of economic and social progress and development, solutions of international economic, social, health and related problems and also universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental language”.[38] The organization however created room to other articles in order to meet its target.

                                   Aregbesola, Michael stated modern social theory to be “a theory of human existence and social change. The word, ‘modern’ in this context refers to those theories whose point of departure is industrial society as it emerges during the nineteenth century, in which the emphasis fall on division of labour, class stratification, authority and legitimation, bureaucracy, social change and the role of ideas in social life”.[39] According to Marx, there is great need for humanity to transform her physical environment for environment for enhanced living standards.

    1. Research Methodology

    In developing the argument in this study, we relied on a variety of sources for our data. Basically, information was derived from both primary and secondary sources.

The primary sources cover oral history / tradition, ethno – linguistics and archaeological materials. Oral tradition connotes spoken words rather than written words. The oral sources that were consulted for the purpose of this work includes person to person discussions, interviews through phone calls, interviews with concerned persons and private journals of some individuals who at one time have lived in Epeilo and who reside in Epeilo at the time of the research.

    In reconstructing the historical development of water supply in Epeilo from 1970 to 2015, oral tradition and history are very important as it touches the very root of the water supply problem and the time of its halt. More so, oral accounts collected had some of the interviewed informants as witnesses to the events discussed in this work. It is often stated that, “the lizard being the greatest occupant of the ceilings, knows how best to point the exact direction where the roof licks most”, thus those who experienced and witnessed the gradual evolution of the historical development of water supply alongside water scarcity were at the best position to narrate the ordeal of the period. In fact, interviews with some of the informants seem to this work an endless journey as some kept talking on, leaving the main subject of the discussion.

     There were very obvious limitations relying on the sources of data collection in this study. Availability of much oral data would have made the work thrived well, but those in position to this (the aged inhabitants) who before 1970 were matured enough to understand circumstances evolving around them, couldn’t just contribute much due to loss of memory. Communication with these set of people had the potential of unleashing great information that may be of use to the study. Sadly enough, interactions with this category proved an abortive process as they couldn’t remember anything and where they did, went totally off point from the theme of discussion.

      Moreover, though oral traditions do have their limitation as regards to objectivity of data, critical analysis of the oral sources and statistical comparism was carried out. In addition, written sources about the area and societies facing similar water supply challenges were used to compliment the research.

    This research work also made use of ethno – linguistic materials. The result shows that Epeilo people are of the Idoma ethnic group of North Central Nigeria. The area is highly infested with termites, making it very difficult for archaeological survey. This is notwithstanding the fact that some artifacts were actually discovered during the process of gathering research materials. Most of these artifacts however tend to be immovable and are above the ground. Since seeing they say is believing, pictures were taken of some artifacts such as clay pots, cement / clay plastered ponds, banana stalks among others to buttress  the various sources and devised means of acquiring and storing water in Epeilo, Otukpa, Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State over time.

     In generating data for this research work, literatures from libraries and official settings served as useful supplement to the primary sources. Though some of these literatures had nothing to do with the area under study, it did share similar themes such as development, water supply and water scarcity. This however, created a space for the researcher to irk out relevant information that made the development of this study progressive. Some of these literatures include; charters, newspapers, bulletins, magazines and textbooks. All these supplemented the primary sources used in this research work.

 

CONCLUSION

    In conclusion, chapter one has brought unto our doorstep, the entire vision, mission and agenda of this research work. The work captures the methods employed by the researcher in carrying out the study alongside laying the basis upon which an accurate and comprehensive subject matter would be raised. It further sheds light on the background to the study, making known the vital role water plays in any given development alongside the pertinent fact of its scarce supply in some areas. The preceding section however raises serious questions that tend to ignite inquisitiveness as surrounding the study of the historical development of water supply in Epeilo, Otukpa, Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State.

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

2.1. INTRODUCTION

         In discussing the historical development of Water Supply in Epeilo, Otukpa, it is necessary we understand the area under study. Therefore, in light of the above, this chapter discusses Epeilo Land, Epeilo People, Epeilo Social Organisation, Epeilo Political Organisation and Epeilo Economic Structure.

2.2. GEOGRAPHY, LAND AND PEOPLE

       Epeilo is a village situated in the Otukpa district of Ogbadibo Local Government Area, Benue State and Otukpa lies “in the lowland of the Niger – Benue trough, at latitude 7  07’ N and  longitude 7   35’ W’’.[40]  It is however connected by a highway with Enugu in the South and Oturkpo in the East. The Idoma group happens to be what the Epeilo people fall under. Idoma is a nomenclature that “means an ethnic group and on the other hand, it depicts a language (uche) group”.[41]  It could be stated that, the Epeilo people of Otukpa speak the Idoma dialect and at the same time are of the Idoma Ethnic group in North Central Nigeria.

        The land of Epeilo shares similar attributes with other areas of Middle belt, Nigeria. It has two main seasons which are the rainy season (March to early November) and dry season (November to early March). “Streams of river runways such as Enumankpiie, Enumaba, Iyoga, Enumedo, Enumagbo and Ogbadibo flow from various sources into the Okpokwu River in Okpoga District of Okpokwu Local Government Area”.[42] Yet, wells are lacking in the entire area due to the porous nature of the soil. Thus, all persons in Otukpa including Epeilo have to trek long distances to the streams. It is estimated that, “the maximum distance to be trekked daily by Aioodo who are the furthest from any of the streams is more than 15 kilometres and the minimum to be trekked daily by Aiowuno who are the nearest to any of the streams is about 2 – 6 kilometres”.[43]

        People in Epeilo speak the Idoma dialect and live together in clusters. It is however estimated that, Epeilo total number of households are “101 households with a population of about 1, 966 people”.[44]

2.3. EPEILO SOCIAL ORGANISATION

        The term ‘social’ can be defined as being “connected with society and the way it is being organized”.[45] Epeilo portrays a mutual communal integration whereby the inhabitants live together in clusters as one family.

      It is argued that “morality and faithfulness on the part of the females (wives and young daughters) is highly placed in esteem as the ancestral spirit, ‘Alekwu’ serve as watchdogs in checkmating the females”.[46] Polygamy is however appreciated with children performing loyal duties to parents in order to gain parental blessings. More so, respect for elders are also condoned among the people of Epeilo while communal conflicts are settled either through mutual agreement or ‘tit for tat’.

     Interactions with the people of Epeilo showed that pounded yam, bush meat and okoho soup is a common local dish in the society. This is usually eaten on special occasions alongside the drinking of palm wine. Ogrinya which is made to the Ogrinya music is one of the major dance in the land.

2.4. EPEILO POLITICAL ORGANISATION

    The need to control, direct and represent group (s) in almost every society has made leadership an integral part of humanity. Epeilo, Otukpa which is our study area recognizes the “Father as the head of a family unit while the first legitimate son “Okpara” stands to represent the Father when absent”.[47]

     The people of Epeilo are of the “Aioodo Clan in Otukpa and they practice a decentralized political system”.[48] Political power in the area is divided into hamlets with a central Chief that oversees all. “Igo (Head Chief) performs the duties of the Central Chief and oversees the various politically divided hamlets which are headed by the Ijaichi”.[49] However, Chiefs (Leaders) are usually chosen on rotational basis with the baton of leadership passing from person to person. Absolutism is very strange to the people of Epeilo as the Chief does not take absolute decision of his own but must consult his chamber members for opinions.

    Furthermore, “fairness, justice and transparency count a lot for a successful and continuous reign of any Epeilo Ruler”.[50] The Interviewee above further stated lifetime leadership to be the grace rendered to any Chief in Epeilo with the condition of such one meeting the expectations of the inhabitants. In Epeilo, the Chief on seat matters a lot as he may take the chance of asking for assistance from higher authorities concerning the problems in the Land.

   Nevertheless, in ensuring law, order, peace and stability, Epeilo has set laws and rules that guide against crimes and also a vigilante (group) that watch the Land (especially at night) against offenders. It is a crime for an individual on his own accord to invite the police into any matter of the Land. “The vigilante group arrests, apprehends and take culprits to the Chief who may decide to settle the case or hand it over to the police, depending on the offence committed”.[51] A person who breaches the above rule and invites the police into any matter of the Land without first consulting the Chief, may be asked to pay a fine. In cases of violence and use of firearms, the police may interfere so as to defend lives, properties and restore decorum.

   It is worthy of note that enforcement of rules, law, order and stability at Epeilo touches down  to the very grass root of the Community. Comportment of humans alongside live stocks are essential practices among the people. An instance of this can be seen with the order which is usually passed during the rainy seasons. “During the rainy season, owners of livestocks (such as goats) are commanded to tie up their live stocks to prevent them from grazing into people’s farm. Anyone who goes against the above rule may be asked to pay a fine or face the seizure of his or her livestock”.[52] In this way, minor conflicts and misunderstandings which can ignite serious crises are to a large extent controlled.  

2.5. ECONOMIC STRUCTURE OF EPEILO

    The inhabitants of Epeilo, Otukpa are majorly farmers, pastoralists, hunters, palm wine tappers and traders. Agriculture stands as the mainstay in the economic structure of the people. “Over 80% of the population engage in agriculture and produce staple foods such as cassava, yam, maize, beniseed, melon, bambara nuts, millet and vegetables such as spinach, pumpkin leaves”[53] among others. “The Epeilo axis also cultivate economic crops and trees such as bush mangoes (ogbono, which is indigenously referred to as ‘upi’), palm trees (ari), coconut trees (acoba), banana (ogede), mahogany, iroko trees, tobacco and kolanut trees”.[54] Live stocks such as goats, sheep, birds are also reared in Epeilo.

     However, in performing the agricultural and production activities at Epeilo, Otukpa, “labour is said to be mobilized through age grade, family, house hold, agreement and communal”.[55] Age grade labour which is usually by agreement and referred to as ‘Aluma’ covers a set of people (or friends) who take turns on partners’ farms to work. Someone who is unable to farm may be asked to pay a fine while suitors go to betroths Fathers houses to farm, build houses and also carry out difficult tasks. On such occasions when the age grade is meant to come work on a friend’s farm, it is expected of such a friend host to entertain his age grade working partners with either palm wine or umu (local drink made from maize and guinea corn, popularly referred to as kunu) especially at the close of the day’s work. “The Community as a whole carries out activities such as the repair of roads, clearing of bush paths, clearing of water lagged ponds as directed by the Chief through the town crier”.[56] Each family in Epeilo has a land upon which they cultivate and also cooperate within itself to perform activities at household base.

     In manufacturing and producing items, typical and indigenous techniques are employed by the people. In time past, “blacksmiths operated at Epeilo and purchased irons from Igbo land with which basic and farming tools such as hoes, cutlasses, axe, knifes, were made from”.[57] “Mortars carved out of tree trunks by Epeilo inhabitants are used for processing agricultural products such as cassava and palm kernels”.[58] Cassava flour is grinded using grinding stone or mortar while palm kernels are boiled and pounded with mortars, pressed with hands to squeeze out palm oil. Though difficult and wastes a lot of time, an Epeilo inhabitant commends “the method as being the best since it gives room for the extraction of black oil (Ite) which is used for eating roasted yams”.[59] As a matter of fact, water is not used when producing the mortar processed type of palm oil, therefore rendering an opportunity to get the undiluted and pure oil from palm kernel. “Palm Kernel are usually harvested by persons who specializes in cutting down palm kernels and payment is made in kind (some palm kernels) or in cash depending on the agreement between both parties. In present day, the average payment per bunch is between thirty to fifty naira only. Aged inhabitants are however assisted by young youths and relatives for free”.[60] The palm trees are very important to the people of Epeilo as it provides one of the best and wide range of investment opportunity to small scale agro – allied industries through the huge production of palm kernel, palm oil, palm wine, brooms and kernel nuts.

     Nevertheless, in earning ends meet, most households cultivate during the rainy season while those unable to cultivate may extend hands of assistance in exchange for gifts such as yams, cassava, seedlings among others during harvest. “The surplus from crops harvested are usually sold at the 5 days calendar markets in Otukpa (namely, Ede, Eke, Afor, Nkwo) while other Occupations such as palm wine tappers and hunters may sell their palm wine and bush animals (such as hare, rabbit) to buy what they do not have”.[61] Traders of all kinds operate at Epeilo, Otukpa and trade commodities such as dry fish, rice which have been purchased from neighboring Igbo lands at retail prices to Epeilo inhabitants. “Commodities are also sold and exchanged in typical markets such as the Ede – Otukpa, Obollo – Afor, Ukwu – Ogbo and Ahor – Adupi. As for the economic trees, in order to generate adequate revenue, the products are taken and sold at the largest, busiest and major market, the “Ukwo Otukpa” in Ogbadibo Local Government Area”.[62]  

 

2.6. CONCLUSION

      In conclusion, Epeilo village is situated in the Otukpa district of Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State. Its inhabitants live in clusters which are called an ‘apole’ (compound) based on lineage links. They however, run a decentralized political system and are regulated by certain laws, orders, rules which ensure peace and stability in the Land. The people of Epeilo, Otukpa practice various economic activities such as farming, pastoralism, hunting, palm wine tapping and trading. Some of the agricultural products include cassava, yam, live stocks, vegetables (spinach, pumpkin leaves), kolanuts, palm wine, tobacco and manufactures such as mortars, brooms, among others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

WATER SUPPLY IN EPEILO BEFORE 1970

3.1. INTRODUCTION

     The people of Epeilo seeing the need for expansion due to population increase (virtually through child births) migrated from the central area of Ai – oodo in Ipole, Otukpa, to acquire land. However, their new found place, ‘Epeilo’ (which means “forest of ants”) just like the entire geographical terrain of Otukpa also lacked water. Thus, to survive and thrive, the inhabitants saw the need to devise ways to quench their thirst and also to acquire water for domestic activities.

3.2. SOURCES OF WATER SUPPLY AND THE EXPERIENCES OF EPEILO INHABITANTS UP TO 1970

   Inhabitants of Epeilo through passed oral history are said to have “migrated into the area circa 18th century”.[63] The soil being porous and consisting majorly of sandy hills made availability of water very difficult. And so, the Epeilo people had no other option than to devise water acquisition techniques. The succeeding paragraphs would discuss the sources of water supply and the experiences of Epeilo inhabitants up to1970.

3.2.1. LIQUID (WATER) SAPPED FROM EDIBLE PLANTS

  In getting water, Epeilo inhabitants during their “migration and hunting expeditions do cut okoho stems (cissus populmea plant) and suck liquid out of such stems, they ate fresh leaves such as Udu leaves, Ogbu leaves, Okorodo leaves and also pounded banana stems from which they sapped liquid from”.[64] Liquid squeezed from banana stems was used to cook food such as water yam, yams and some tender vegetables. An elderly interviewee claimed that “the inhabitants observing birds drink liquid from palm trees without harm, also took to drinking liquid from palm tree otherwise known as palm wine”.[65]

          

Fig 1: showing banana stalk from which the people of Epeilo sapped liquid.

Source: Personal Photograph, Field Work. October 18th, 2016.

3.2.2. WATER STORED IN CLAY POTS

    Clay pots are usually handmade and used for numerous purposes such as potting plants, refrigerator for storing perishables like fruits, vegetables so as to slow down spoilage. Foods are smoked and baked in clay pot smoker and clay pot oven respectively. It’s also used for making fermented foods and drinks such as kimchi, wine, sauerkraut (cabbage, vinegar and spices), herbs and local soups such as cissus populmea soup(the Idoma indigenous soup commonly called, Okoho soup).  The inclusion of clay pots in the historical development of water supply in Epeilo, Otukpa is mainly for the purpose of storing water among the inhabitants.

    Earthen (clay) pots were used for storing water before 1970. Water got during the raining season was scooped as it flowed on the bare ground and stored in these pots. Those with resource abilities purchased 100 to 200 clay pots for water storage. In addition, people in Epeilo got water from streams into clay pots as common with “all people in Otukpa who have to trek long distance to the streams”.[66] Scientists however, claim water in clay pots to be healthier than that stored in plastic containers due to harmful chemicals such as Bisphenol A that cling onto the water molecules and pose health hazards. Water scooped from clay pot tastes natural, pleasantly chilled and also helps improve metabolism and virility.

       In fact, “water stored in clay pots do have healing processes which the elements of earth produces and transfer the chill to the water based on the climate”.[67] Water consumed from clay pots help curb acidity due to the alkaline nature of clay therefore, providing relief from gastronomic pains and at the same time creating a proper PH balance. When acidic food like meat or milk is cooked in an earthen pot, the clay helps to neutralize the overly acidic qualities of the food. More so, water stored in clay pots when consumed could help prevent sun stroke and its gentle nature on the throat makes it an ideal drink for people suffering from cough or cold. Therefore, the inhabitants of Epeilo, Otukpa Community did make use of clay pots to store their water before 1970 and after 1970.

      However, a detailed study of the earthen pots at Epeilo proved them to be handmade products. The study area lacked water alongside clay that could be processed into clay pots.  An interviewee narrated on how “these pots (clay) were purchased through trade contacts. Places such as Owukpa in present Ogbadibo local government area which had streams produced earthen pots that Epeilo inhabitants bought”.[68]

    In addition to this, “the people of Epeilo went to Obollo Aforin (a part of Igbo land) to trade and those from Igbo land came to Epeilo to purchase timbers (planks) and palm wine”.[69] It was however, through the above contacts that both ideas and products were properly exchanged at Epeilo. The researcher in wanting to know more on the events surrounding the storage of water in clay pots and how they came about at Epeilo, raised a question on the means of transporting pots and how those who desired large numbers did cope. Of course, this question was properly explained as an Epeilo indigene stated pedestrian transport as the means for moving earthen pots to Epeilo at a time when there were few cars or none. She further went on to explain that, “those who bought earthen pots from Owukpa and Obollo carried them on their heads trekking down to Epeilo. They sometimes take their children along with them so as to assist them in carrying some pots home. With these, the number of pots increased year after year”.[70]

 

Fig 2: showing clay pots that were used for storing water in Epeilo, Otukpa.

Source: Personal Photograph, Field Work. October 18th, 2016.

 

      3.2.3. DOMESTIC RAIN WATER HARVESTING SYSTEM

          Domestic rain water harvesting is motivated by exhaustion of surface supplies and the falling levels of aquifers. Onoja, S. B. et al (2010) states that “roof top rain water harvesting is a practice in Otukpa Community and every building has one form or the other, the rain water harvesting system”.[71] However, the water is usually unable to sustain the people through the dry periods. Estimating domestic water demand is quite difficult as children and adults use different amounts of water. Furthermore, the number of household members staying at home may also vary at different times of the year because more persons visit home at festive periods such as Christmas, Easter, Marriages, and Cultural celebrations.

         However, through trade contacts with the “Igbo’s especially those at Obollo Aforin, the idea of artificial ponds was gotten, while the Nigeria Civil War which ended by 1970 help spread the idea among the people of Epeilo”.[72] It appeared to be a progress and advancement in the technique of water storage among the inhabitants of Epeilo. The strenuous journeys to the far streams were to a large extent reduced as virtually every household took to the digging of water ponds for their sustenance.

       It should be noted that in faraway Bangladesh, the domestic rain water harvesting system practiced in Epeilo, Otukpa is also popular. Biplob, K. B. et Bablu H. M. in their work states the components of Rain Water Harvesting System to include, “Catchment Area, Supporting Collection System and Storage Tank”.[73]  Catchment area could be the surface upon which rain falls while in transporting the water from the catchment area, a system of gutters or pipes is needed. Commonly used materials for guttering include galvanized metal, plastic, pvc pipes and split bamboo which is more of an indigenous product. Sometimes, depending on the household involved, nets could be placed at the entrance of the collection system as a form of filter. More so, the storage tank or reservoir in Epeilo, Otukpa is usually ground dug pit or pond which is after wards cemented or plastered.

         Worthy of note is the fact that even at the initial stage of introducing the pond water storage technique, when there were few or no corrugated iron sheets to serve as complete rain water harvesting system, Epeilo people were still able to channel rain water into these ponds. “While houses with corrugated roofs channeled water into ponds easily, those who still had thatched roofs, fetched (scooped) manually while it rained and poured into the ponds. Large holes were usually dug at the center of the compound, water flowed into these pits and was fetched with calabash or clay pots into the cemented ponds until the ponds got filled up”.[74] Strenuous as this may sound, Epeilo people at this time preferred it to the distant journeys to the far streams.

       Furthermore, “notable specialists who engaged in pond digging did exist at Epeilo. These were often young strong men, usually in a group of two to four men and very energetic”.[75] A person at Epeilo stated “the average time duration for digging these ponds to be at least a week”.[76] Having witnessed the digging of several ponds made his claims believable. Crude measuring tools such as sticks were used to measure the depth and sizes of these ponds. “Negotiation between the owner and laborer determined the amount involved in digging water ponds as there were no fixed amounts at Epeilo”.[77] While the owner chose the shape and size he desired, the size however determined the charges to be paid as bigger holes meant more money and resources.

       Fig 3: showing typical artificial water ponds in Epeilo, Otukpa.

       Source: Personal Photograph, Field Work. October 18th, 2016.

3.3. CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH WATER SUPPLY IN EPEILO BEFORE 1970

     Having looked at the various sources of water supply in Epeilo, Otukpa before 1970. It could be said that these water supplies were very strenuous and had numerous challenges associated with them.

   The use of liquid from edible leaves and plants to prepare food at Epeilo, Otukpa often prevented the consumption of tasty and delicious meals. Liquid other than water has its own flavor, thus causing the flavor of the food ingredients to be sometimes lost after the food is prepared. “More so, edible leaves got dried up during the long dry seasons, sometimes poisonous leaves were consumed and palm wine when taken excessively caused drowsiness and often led to misbehaviors”.[78] However, liquid other than water could not give total satisfaction when ingested.

    Much energy was required for the long distance treks and these clay pots which were purchased at exorbitant prices at the time sometimes fell down and broke into pieces. Some persons could not purchase enough clay pots that would store water through the dry season. “People, particularly women and girls, are to travel up to several kilometers for collecting water for drinking, which means that a significant number of productive hands are consumed. Moreover, this has impacts on women’s safety, girls’ education, health risks and micro economy of individual family”.[79]

    More so, “people in search for water rose before cock crow and had no light to see through the way to the far streams”.[80] Readers should be aware that Epeilo being a typical village setting at the time, had no form of electric power supply nor street lights. Thus, they often came across mishaps as some stepped upon harmful rodents such as scorpions, snakes and also stumbled over short shrubs, tree stumps and stones. Harassments which ranged from physical brawls to abuse at the streams were anticipated occurrences on such tours to fetch water.

    Anyone who has come across an average sized earthen pot will confess of how heavy the pots could be, these pots when purchased as earlier mentioned were lifted unto the heads of human carriers or purchasers and thereafter journeyed strenuously from Owukpa or Obollo Aforin to Epeilo. It was always a very difficult task as headache and body pain was the reward for such efforts on arrival at home. Earthen pots needed frequent washing and scrubbing so as to prevent the growth of fungi and bacteria such as moss, lichen, spirogyra among others. This was unsuccessful as water stored in the pots was kept for long before usage, thereby resulting to consumption of unhygienic water. More so, coverings for the water pots were most times inadequate and scarce therefore leading to exposure to atmospheric and environmental impurities.

    Nevertheless, the artificial ponds which were introduced needed more attention as regards to maintenance and cleanliness. Poorly constructed ponds cracked overtime therefore contaminating the water, draining the water through escape holes and causing the water not to go round the dry seasons. The pictures below are photographs taken to show typical illustrations of cracked water ponds. Just as the ponds look cracked at the outside, so they sometime are on the inside. Thus, causing the water to drain into the ground and rendering all efforts of fetching during the raining seasons useless.

 

Fig 4: showing cracked water ponds and a broken clay pot at Epeilo, Otukpa.

                Source: Personal Photograph, Field Work. October 20th, 2016.

 

3.4.CONCLUSION

   In conclusion, the inhabitants of Epeilo, Otukpa before 1970 acquired water (liquid) through pounded banana, palm wine, rain water harvesting system, water storage in clay pots and ponds, liquid squeezed from plants and fresh leaves. However, these sources had numerous challenges associated with them. Some of these difficulties included, clay pots getting broken, strenuous activities involved in fetching water from streams, poisonous leaves being consumed, leaves going dry during the dry season, ponds getting cracked and needing great attentions in the aspect of hygiene and cleanliness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

WATER SUPPLY IN EPEILO AFTER 1970

4.1. INTRODUCTION

        In curtailing water scarcity as a problem in Epeilo, the period after the end of the Nigeria Civil War, 1970 saw gradual development and changes in terms of water supply. The succeeding sub – headings in this chapter will be examining the evolution of water supply in Epeilo after 1970, the challenges associated with water supply in Epeilo since 1970 and the various efforts made towards addressing water supply challenges in Epeilo.

4.2. THE EVOLUTION OF WATER SUPPLY IN EPEILO AFTER 1970

       With reference to Herman Kahn’s quote which states that, ‘there are many roads up each mountain, and many mountains up to Heaven’, this section makes an attempt to expose unto readers the numerous changes that has taken place in the water supply sector at Epeilo after 1970. It explains all the various techniques employed by the inhabitants of Epeilo in curbing the problems associated with water scarcity in the area. It is however reported that “the end of the Nigeria Civil War by 1970 accelerated the spread of the technique of storing water in ponds at Epeilo, Otukpa”.[81] An interviewee of Epeilo origin stated that, “some of the Epeilo elders which were enlisted in the Nigerian army discovered at the warfront that the Ibos made used of dug cemented ponds to store water during the rainy season”.[82] This idea of storing water in ponds therefore spread so fast after the Civil War and began reducing the pain in shortage of water supply at Epeilo, Otukpa after 1970.

     “At the initial introduction of the practice of storing water in cemented ponds, most ponds hardly had a covering and was left open”.[83] Water stored in this ponds was usually harvested during the rainy seasons and afterwards used for various domestic and consumption purposes. Rain harvesting system has some pros such as its physical and chemical properties being superior to those of ground water or surface water. Its cons however include reliance on frequency of rainfall, stored rainwater can foster bacterial growth, and rain water harvesting can be expensive and requires good rainfall throughout the year. With the pass in time, it became obvious that hygienic water consumption was very important and so some of the Epeilo inhabitants introduced a little change to pond water storage by covering the ponds as shown below.

      

     Fig 5: Showing Water pond covered with corrugated iron sheets at Epeilo, Otukpa.

     Source: Personal Photograph, Field Work. October 18th, 2016.

     However, in as much as Epeilo people did practice the method of water storage in ponds, they still did not dump the use of earthen pots as shown in the previous chapter. Earthen pots served as supplements to the trendy pond water storage system. It made water within reach without the user needing much stress to fetch from the plastered deep ponds. Maintenance of these ponds was very difficult even as digging was expensive and frustrating as some water ponds got wasted through irreparable cracks. And so, as a result of economic constraint and difficulties that surround the creation of these ponds, the people resolved to buying water when the water in the pond couldn’t go through the dry season.

    “With the ongoing development in the country, vendor trucks were introduced and the area of Epeilo, Otukpa was not left out”.[84] Water vendors supplied most households irrespective of season. To fair the inadequacy in water provision by public utilities in many cities, alternative suppliers exist such as non – state water providers including both formal and informal local private providers. “Historically, water vending is an old practice World over. One of the features of water vendors is that they can be unionized (which help them self – regulate water prices, monitor the quality of water distributed, and innovate improved services) or non-unionized which is the case in many low income areas.”[85] The mode of distributing water varies from place to place as home deliveries could come in handy carrier, donkey carts, push carts, and tank trucks. Water vending turns out to be an essential part of water supply system in developing Countries most especially in poorer, low income or informal settlements. Femi Akinola in his article did state that, “water vending is seen as lucrative business hence many people are going into the business”.[86]

 

 

 

Fig 6: Showing Vendor Trucks as sources of water supply in Nigeria.

Source: Personal Photograph, Field Work. June 22nd, 2017.

   Informants point out that “vendor trucks did come from neighboring areas such as Olamoboro local government area in Kogi state of which had its major water sources as spring, streams and rivers”.[87] Water was hawked around by these trucks, sold at exorbitant prices and hoarded to be sold at greater prices by some individuals at Epeilo. And so, although Water Vending did supplement the Rain Water Harvesting System at Epeilo, there was still the need for a better water supply system as the vicissitudes of rural life and limited resources did not create room for fair distribution of this scarce commodity (water). 

       One among the targets of the Millennium Development Goals is to “halve by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation”.[88] UNICEF in promoting economic and social progress alongside development, usually initiate negotiations among the States concerned for the creation of any new specialized agencies required for the accomplishment of the purpose set forth in article 55. Since ‘you can’t run with the hares and hunt with the hounds’, the indigenes of Epeilo, Otukpa saw a great need for an outcry to the ailing water scarcity problem in the area under study. “The people through their community chairman John Akor wrote to the State government for an intervention in the sector of adequate water supply system”.[89] Fortunately, it has been stated that the Officials of the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund visited the area by August 2010 for survey and a dialogue meeting. “A meeting was thereafter held between the Community people and the Officials of UNICEF with an agreement of the inhabitants contributing their own quota as regards to opening an account in one of the Commercial banks”.[90] “The sum of three hundred and fifty thousand naira in respect of the water project as required of the Epeilo Community was deposited on the 8th of December 2011 in the First Bank Plc at Otukpa branch”.[91] It is however notable that UNICEF named the project as Water Sanitation and Hygiene Committee (WASHCOM) Epeilo, Otukpa, Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State. Expenses for the project was shared as follow, “Community contributed five percent (5%), Local Government contributed five percent (5%) and UNICEF contributed ninety percent (90%)”.[92]

    “On the 7th of November 2012, work began with the employment of sophisticated boring equipment and ended on the 21st of November 2012”.[93] “It took 15 days to get the water and the depth of the bore hole as reported was three thousand meters (3,000 meters). Mr. Thomas Bright from Canada served as the project supervisor.”[94] The above interviewee further stated that on the 30th of November 2012, the borehole was tested and the water gushed out from the pipe nozzles to the surprise of the entire Community. There were jubilations, dancing, jumping, beating of drums and shooting of guns across the Village, marking the end to the suffering of the Community in terms of water scarcity.

    Mac Donald et Calow R.C. are of the opinion that “widespread development of ground water is the most affordable and sustainable way of improving access to secure water for the rural poor on the scale required to achieve current coverage targets”.[95] Borehole (being underground) water has excellent natural quality and is usually adequate for potable supply with little or no treatment. It has a protective cover provided by the soil and unsaturated zone. Groundwater can sometimes be developed relatively cheaply and progressively to meet demand with lower capital investment than many surface water schemes. However, some of the cons associated with ground water is the technical effort needed in some situations as installation could be expensive and requirement for the systematic water purity checks. As development increases rapidly, the threat of pollution from human activities needs to be checkmated in relation to the nature of the protective cover. Filters and other treatments may become necessary.

Fig 7: Showing Borehole drilling at Epeilo, Otukpa in 2012.

Source: Interviewee, Field Work. October 19th , 2016.

4.3. CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH WATER SUPPLY IN EPEILO SINCE

        1970 

       Water vending play a very essential role in almost every society. Wutich et al (2016) stated it as “means of advancing the human right to water and services a significant number of households”.[96] Lack of regulation by government leaves no doubt that recognizing them as part of a regulatory framework will assist in the realization of MDGs target. As for Epeilo, Otukpa, “water tankers were scarce to come by, thus causing the people to arrange ahead of time especially during celebrations and ceremonies”.[97]

        Furthermore, there was also the risk of increased traffic accidents as the “water tankers often got stuck into the soil and needed to be wrestled or pushed before moving”.[98] Time waste also stood as one of the challenges associated with water supply in Epeilo. “Tankers (vendor trucks) in the past fetched water from distant streams such as Olamoboro local government, Ankpa in Kogi State and Igbo land before journeying to Epeilo”.[99]

        More so, besides water – related diseases associated with informal water vendors, it is often more expensive resulting in households already paying more than the stipulated bills charged by public utilities. “Prior the intervention of UNICEF, a basin of water equivalent to 20litres was sold at fifty naira per one”.[100] It is however “estimated that the average person requires 20 to 40 liters of water per day for drinking and sanitation”.[101] If an average person at Epeilo requires 40 liters per day, it then mean that a household of 10 persons will have to spend a thousand naira each day for water, while a household of 20 persons will spend two thousand naira per day. Readers should therefore, bear in mind that Epeilo is a village setting which lack social institutions such as banks, business halls and so constraining the monies in circulation. Also, in a rural setting as Epeilo, most occupations operate fairly above the subsistence level and cannot afford to spend “so much” on water alone. And so, as long as the price of water remained high, the people of Epeilo also before the intervention of UNICEF were adamant at sparing their monies in order to meet the required amount of water needed per day by an average person. The above indeed stood as a challenge both to their health and environmental sanitations. 

 

4.4. EFFORTS AT ADDRESSING WATER SUPPLY CHALLENGES IN EPEILO

  The inhabitants of Epeilo, Otukpa made remarkable efforts at addressing the problems of water scarcity in the area. “Private individuals from neighboring areas which had water, being aware of the people’s sufferings came and hawked water in vendor trucks for sale at Epeilo”.[102] Some of these “water operating personnel were called upon by Epeilo people during the months of November and December for purchase of water”.[103] Purchased water was stored to be used during the dry seasons. “Youths however took it upon themselves to weed and clear bush paths so as to make the roads accessible for vendor trucks”.[104]

   “Most houses at Epeilo were built during the rainy seasons and thereafter supported with dried stalks from palm fronds so as to prevent the mud or plastering from washing away”.[105] “Influences of the water board schemes has not been felt as much at Epeilo, Otukpa”.[106] Inhabitants of the area couldn’t point out any recognized government effort at providing water in Epeilo before the intervention of UNICEF.  “In Nigeria, the primary responsibilities for water resources development are vested on government agencies including the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, State Water Agencies and non-government agencies such as UNICEF. Other government agencies not directly concerned with water resources development but carry out water resources development projects in an uncoordinated manner with each not taking into considerations the activities of the other. In most cases, quality control and assurances were downplayed with emphasis on number of communities covered rather than water supply system efficiency. Water schemes sustainability involving ownership, operation and maintenance structure are not properly addressed in planning”.[107]  Performance of water supply schemes in Benue is really disheartening, “two boreholes drilled at Otukpa in 1962 to a depth of 85.3m and 205.0m with a water table depth of 146.0m and a tested yield of 14.5 cum/ hr have not been equipped and exploited”.[108]   The UNICEF intervention came about as a result of relentless outcry and petitions by the people. 

    Nevertheless, a curious mind may question if they had been or were attempts to sink a borehole by any individual or the community at any time? It is reported that “one Late Brigadier General John Igoche through Opia to ha (meaning, united) made an effort circa 1976 to sink a desert well but failed due to an impenetrable stone in the ground. Subsequent attempts also failed woefully”.[109] Therefore, it could be stated that the people of Epeilo did not just fold their hands, but persistently fought the problem of water scarcity in the area until they got their victory. 

4.5. CONCLUSION

    In conclusion, in an attempt to discuss water supply in Epeilo after 1970, this section took a study on the numerous changes that has taken place in the water supply sector, the challenges associated with water supply in Epeilo since 1970 and the various efforts made towards addressing this challenges at Epeilo. It is however clear that the activities involved in the water supply sector at Epeilo since 1970 has been that of an uphill battle. Though the Epeilo inhabitants evolved from the use of earthen pots to digging of water ponds unto vendor trucks and finally deep drilled boreholes, almost all the mentioned water sources had its challenge and limitation. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of Epeilo did not relent as efforts were made towards taking ‘this sword (water scarcity) of Damocles hanging over their heads’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FIVE

EFFECTS OF WATER SCARCITY IN EPEILO

    No area across the globe will ever choose or want to experience the impeding effects water scarcity brings upon its subjects. Water scarcity usually occurs alongside numerous distractions, problems and difficulties. The people of Epeilo can attest to the above fact based on the negative effects water scarcity had in the area. However, for the purpose of this study, the effects of water scarcity in Epeilo will be discussed under the physical, health and economic spheres of life.

5.1. PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF WATER SCARCITY IN EPEILO

  Scarcity of water can tell greatly on the appearances of individual(s) and societies. Water scarcity at Epeilo, Otukpa caused “the inhabitants most especially children to look dirty and unkept”.[110] The problem of adequate water supply provided little or no room for bathing and so inhabitants took to just washing their faces before going about their activities. “Children couldn’t take their baths before leaving for school and on their return were instructed to go fetch water from the far streams”.[111] This further resulted to hairs and clothes getting filled up with lice.

   In addition, water scarcity caused “the Epeilo people teeth to decay due to shortage of water for washing them”.[112] Many people developed halitosis, mouth odor, bad breath, tooth ache and even had to pull out some of their teeth. It also caused “some of the people to develop rashes and craw – craw on their bodies due to lack of bathing”.[113]

     “Stench body odor was also a common smell among the people especially for the young females who always saw their monthly menstrual periods”.[114] The monthly discharge of the matured female often require that strict hygienic conditions are kept to so as to prevent smell, embarrassments and irritations. This was however, not a perfect achievement at Epeilo, Otukpa during the periods of shortage in water supply.  

 

5.2. HEALTH EFFECTS OF WATER SCARCITY IN EPEILO

        Water scarcity told a lot on the health of the Epeilo people. The people believed that if anyone considered hygiene, such one may die of thirst and so, they did drink from any water within their reach. As a result of the above carelessness towards intake of water, “many of the Epeilo people developed illnesses such as typhoid fever, diarrhea, dysentery and even cholera”.[115] Some of these diseases had great turn on the people of Epeilo as they lost their lives, relatives and friends to death. However, an informant claimed that “the people of Epeilo have resistance against ailments even with the intake of dirty and unhygienic water. In cases where the water stinks or look greenish in color as shown in the picture below, all an Epeilo inhabitant needed to do was just close his eyes, hold his breath or nostrils and drink the water”.[116]

      “Lack of water for cooking also caused the people to become companions to starvation which in turn brought upon them severe stomach ulcers”.[117] Stomach ulcer created distractions to steady activities as the time spent writhing on the floor would have been maximized for something progressive. Constant movements in the rain without the use of rain coats caused “parents to lose some of their children to the cold hands of death due to ailments such as severe pneumonia, cough, cold and fever conditions”.[118]

     Proper water closet system could not function well in Epeilo as a result of water scarcity, the “inhabitants therefore resorted to using the bushes and pit latrines as sites for defecation”.[119] The above however polluted both the environment and uncovered water ponds during storms with dangerous bacteria which were ailing to the health of the people.

 

   Fig 8: Showing an uncovered water pond filled with dirty water in Epeilo.

   Source: Personal Photograph, Field Work. October 19th, 2016.

5.3. ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF WATER SCARCITY IN EPEILO

     Water scarcity posed a major challenge to food supply at Epeilo. “Food crops such as rice which needed much water to grow well was not cultivated as a result of shortage in water supply”.[120] The people of Epeilo couldn’t supplement their diet with food rich in vegetables during the long dry seasons as most vegetables got dried up owing to drought. “Market value placed on live stocks from the Epeilo axis was often low as most of them grew too thin”.[121] And so, guaranteed food security was not sure as long as the shortage in water supply lingered at Epeilo.

     Shortage in water supply affected the cottage industries at Epeilo, Otukpa. Informants pointed out that, “Palm oil producers could not process palm kernels into palm oil likewise the washing of locust beans”.[122] Palm fruits stayed long on trees, got rottened and fell to the ground. What is more distressing and annoying as this? You need money, you’ve got the means for making money (palm kernel to palm oil) but a natural gift like water stand as a hindrance. This can further be likened to a scenario between a hungry bird and a transparent cork groundnut bottle. While the bird salivates and continuously hit its beak for the content in the bottle, its hunger can never be satisfied so long as the groundnut filled bottle remains cork.

     For growth and development to take place in any given society, there is great need for the presence of outsiders. It is often stated that, ‘ideas rule the World’, whenever good ideas are diffused into any society, it usually help improve already existing practices among such people. “Investors, traders, youth corps members, teachers, businessmen all avoided the area as a result of low water supply”.[123] Industries and commercial ventures need water to run machineries, building blocks useful in erecting infrastructures needed water to be molded and so, absence of adequate water supply did not permit development to take place at Epeilo, Otukpa.

     Education was also greatly hampered at Epeilo, Otukpa due to water scarcity. “Teachers, youth corp members often fought hard to work away their transfer from Epeilo as a result of the scarcity in water supply”.[124] Children had to move to other areas in pursuit for better education. Also, “certain occasions could not hold during the dry seasons as the foremost daily routine of the Epeilo people at such time was the lengthy journeys to the far streams”.[125] It was a very difficult task as inhabitants often ended being fatigue.

 

5.4. OUTCOME OF UNICEF BOREHOLE INTERVENTION AT EPEILO

         The researcher in wanting to pen down a worthwhile finding, made efforts to know the outcome UNICEF water intervention scheme has brought upon the people of Epeilo community. Interviews were conducted with the inhabitants of Epeilo in respect to the outcome of adequate water supply in the area. An interviewee stated that, “before UNICEF intervention, a basin of water which is equivalent to 20 liters was sold at fifty naira per one. However, with the intervention of UNICEF, this same basin of water is now sold at ten naira per one. Monies derived from the sale is kept and use for the maintenance of the pipelines and water scheme when faulty”.[126] More so, girls in their menstrual periods can now observe proper hygiene. Improved community water supply and sanitation have tremendous impacts on the lives of people such as “reduced mortality, improved productivity, and release of women and children from the drudgery of carrying water over long distances”.[127]

        Ibok E.E. et Ekong, E.D. argues that “safe water and sanitation as essential indicators of sustainable development”.[128] “Beautiful houses are now being built as people no longer run away from home, traders, strangers and investors are beginning to settle in the land also”.[129] The standard of education in the schools have also greatly improved as youth corps members no longer work away their service but instead serve joyfully at Epeilo. Children too are spared the long treks for water therefore attending school regularly and punctually.

     Rural water supply has allowed rural women ample time to undertake economic activities instead of the usual long treks and time consuming search for water. “Palm oil is now easily produced in large commercial quantities”.[130] Cottage industries are beginning to thrive well as “the youth have got themselves occupied with basic investments such as grinding engines, brick laying among others”.[131] Most parents and guardians no longer have to worry about the idleness of their ward as the adequate water supply has provided the latter opportunities to make ends meet.

   Food security has been guaranteed as “livestock rearing is done at ease alongside all year round irrigation for vegetables”[132], thus, improving the diet and nutritional status of the people. Life security has also been improved as adequate water supply has “help reduce to the minimum incidences of water borne and related diseases in the area”.[133] Most houses being built now operate a water closet system as there is adequate supply of water in Epeilo, Otukpa. The people no longer use unhygienic water as good water now abounds.

   Adequate water supply at Epeilo has also given the people room to arrange occasions in any season. An interviewee narrated how, “she was able to organize and hold her traditional marriage ceremony during the peak of dry season”.[134]  Steady flow of water has now made it easy for activities which usually come with ceremonies such as cooking, washing, sanitations to be carried out smoothly without any obstruction. Before now, most marriages and even burial ceremonies were fixed far from the heart of the dry season. This is however a past condition now as adequate water supply has brought to the people of Epeilo liberty to organize whatever occasion they deemed fit at any time of the year.

    Water supply has not just improved the physical, health and economic sectors of the Epeilo people but also the psychological life. Emotional trauma was the condition the problem of water scarcity placed the Epeilo inhabitants in. The people often worried as to how they would get water each day and were drawn behind by this challenge. However, since UNICEF intervention in the area, the peoples mind, passion, spirit and zeal have been awaken and revived to do exploits.

 

                Fig 9: Solar Powered Water Supply System at Epeilo, Otukpa.

                Source: Personal Photograph, Field Work. October 20th, 2016.

 

5.5. CONCLUSION

    In conclusion, the effects of water scarcity can best be explained by those who have had an experience of it. Some of its detrimental impacts as seen in the case of the people of Epeilo are food shortage, water borne diseases, time waste, halitosis, decayed teeth, stench body odor, stomach ulcer among others. It is however notable of how greatly the adequate supply of water can serve as a “boon” for development as observed in the outcome of UNICEF borehole intervention at Epeilo. The economic life of the Epeilo inhabitants has been revived as the youth now involve themselves in activities of cottage industries. Traders and investors are beginning to settle in the area and those in diaspora have been drawn home (Epeilo). This of course is a great watershed as development needs the presence of human activities to thrive and humans need the existence of water to survive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                          CHAPTER SIX

SUMMARY, RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION

SUMMARY

   The analysis of the historical development of water supply in Epeilo, Otukpa shows that the importance of water anywhere in the World cannot be overemphasized. Water from time immemorial has been known and considered by many as a necessity and a social good. Its vital role as source of life and development extends to those who possess it as an opportunity to satisfy their aspirations for a better life. Epeilo, Otukpa people being aware of the need for this natural right (water) confronted their daily environmental obstacles in pursuit of water in order to attain a satiable level and earn a living.

   However, reading from how the Epeilo, Otukpa water scarcity study evolved, the opportunity to satisfy the aspirations of the people was a mirage as it was all struggles to get good water hitherto UNICEF intervention (circa 2010 to 2012). The scarcity of water in Epeilo caused ample time meant for productive activities to be wasted as the inhabitants searched for water daily. Inadequate water supply caused some of the inhabitants of Epeilo to develop body odor as they couldn’t bath properly. Stomach ulcer was prevalent as there was no water sometimes to cook meals and constant movements in the rain without the use of raincoats caused some of Epeilo people to develop fever, cough, catarrh and pneumonia. Water scarcity also affected cottage industries as water meant for the processing of palm oil and locust beans was inadequate.

    In addition, the inhabitants of Epeilo did respond to changes in satisfying their quest for water overtime. It is quite obvious that from sapping liquid from edible plants (such as cissis populmae, banana stalk), Epeilo people transited unto fetching water from streams into earthen pots. The use of earthen pots was however supplemented with time through the digging of water ponds and then the purchase of water from vendor trucks before the final intervention of deep drilled boreholes by UNICEF (circa 2010 to 2012).

   Nevertheless, the adequate water supply at Epeilo, Otukpa today has allowed rural women ample time to undertake economic activities instead of the usual long treks and time consuming search for water. Children have now got the time to attend school regularly and punctually as they are spared the long treks for water. It is also evident that the level of food security has greatly improved as livestock rearing and cottage industries thrive successfully at Epeilo. More so, the supply of water has also helped reduce to the minimum the incidence of water borne and related diseases in the rural area.

CONCLUSION

      In conclusion, water constitutes an essential part of human needs. Man can survive without electricity supply, communication technology, road and social amenities but not with water. Water has continued to play a prominent role through history. In the 6th century B C, Thales of Miletus, sometimes acknowledged for initiating Greek philosophy regarded water as the sole fundamental building block of matter. The study of  ‘the historical development of water supply in Epeilo, Otukpa, circa 1970 to 2015’ has chronicled all the grievances that come with shortage in water supply and the blessing that is bestowed upon those who have this social good (water).  Government, non – government and private individuals noting the key role water play on humanity should therefore endeavor to put heads together in ensuring intervention for areas that still lack access to safe and good water supply in Nigeria.

Arising from the above, it is recommended that:

  1.  Water agencies should be properly formed to automate their network surveillance for cases of responsibilities in failed systems. In addition, monitoring and regulation is necessary for the protection of the quality of raw water sources as well as the output conformity with drinking water quality standards.
  2. There is also the need for an effective water resources data management system in the nation as a whole. If this is properly done, the incompetence often arising on the side of water agencies and bodies would be to a great extent curbed, regulated or controlled. Furthermore, accountability, efficiency and greater transparency is expected also on the side of water agencies.
  3.  Stakeholders in public offices must bear in mind that basic needs such as provision of adequate water must be among the foremost priorities of every budget or expenditure. It is quite ironical that a government which claims to have its citizens in mind would first allocate contracts on solid infrastructures (though they may be important) such as bridges, roads before even thinking (in few cases where such thought still reside) of providing good water for the masses. If the human body constitutes a large amount of water and can’t survive without it (water), who then is expected to climb the bridges or drive on the roads when constructed?  
  4. Government’s commercial and revenue - generating institutions have to reach for transparency, integrity and dignity among public officials most especially in the sector of adequate water regulation and supply. It is high time we stopped the diversion of monies and resources meant for fixing good steady water supply into private pockets. Watch dogs that would fight against such delinquency as mentioned above must rise to duty post, while areas lacking in the reach of anti-graft agencies should formulate them so as to ensure proper vigilance as regard to water related issues.
  5. Societies who currently are facing the problems of water scarcity must remain relentless in making known their petitions to the government, donors and public stake holders.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barnard, A. History and Theory in Anthropology. Cambridge Univ. Press, UK.2000       

Benue State Water Corporation. Priority Water Supply Schemes. No. B-8: Otukpa. 1981

Coping With Water Scarcity. A strategic issue and priority for system, August 2006

Fapojuwo, O.A. Water Is Life. Water Resources. Bulletin. Vol. 1. No. 5

Federal Ministry of Water Resources National Urban Water Sector Reform Project. 2015

Harrington, Austin (ed). Modern Social Theory. Oxford Univ. Press, 2005

Hehn – Been, L. The Role of the Higher Civil Service under Rapid Social and Political                

            Change.  Dukes Univ. Press, Durban. 1970

Jerry, Agada (ed). Orokam – A Road Map for Socio – Economic and Political Advancement.

            Aboki Publishers, Makurdi. 2002

Mc Gee, R. J and Warms, R. L. Anthropological Theory. An Introduction History (5th edition).

            Mc Gee Hill, USA. 2012

Modernisation Theory. Introduction to International Development Fall 2014

Obekpa, Johnson. Idoma Origin and Tradition. Opashi Lithographic Press, Makurdi. 2006

Salami, S. O. (ed) Water Resources Bulletin. Vol. 1. No. 5. 1982

Samjeje, O. L. E. Okpoga OL’ Otuta. An Introduction to Okpoga History. Okpe Linus Ejeh

             Samjeje, Makurdi. 2002

United Nations. Millennium Declaration. New York, United Nations, 2000

United Nations. The UN Millennium Development Goals. New York, United Nations, 2007

 

 

 

INTERNET SOURCES

Aregbesola, Micheal. Marx’s contribution to the development of modern social theory: understanding the fundamental. Ibadan, 2012

Water – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

 

JOURNALS

Ibok, Enefiok and Ekong, E. Daniel. Rural Water Supply and Sustainable Development in Nigeria:

             A Case Analysis of Akwa Ibom State. (2014)

Kevin, Chukwu. Water Supply Management Policy in Nigeria: Challenges in the Wetland Area of

             Niger – Delta. Vol. 11, No. 26 (September 2015)

Mac Donald, A. M. and Calow, R. C. Developing Groundwater for Secure Rural Water Supplies

              in Africa.

Nurazzura, M. D. et al. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science: An Over view of

               the Anthropological Theories. Vol. 4. No. 10156 (August 2014)

Nwankwoalo, A.O. Localising the Strategy for Achieving Rural Water Supply and Sanitation in

                Nigeria.

Prof. Barkindo, B. M. et al (eds). A Journal of Historical Studies.

Toryina, Varvar et al (eds). The Nile Treaty and Quest for Justice. Canada, Mc Gill Univ. no.1.

                 (2009)

 

MAGAZINE

Oluwabunmi, Michael. The Challenges of Water Supply Schemes in the Nigerian Context, 2013

 

ORAL INTERVIEWS

Abraham, Odoh, Interview by author, May 28th 2017.

Akatu, Akogwu, Interview by author, Tape recording, October 20th 2016.

Alice, Ogbeh, Interview by author, June 6th 2017.

Ameh, Christopher, Interview by author, June 4th 2017.

Blessing, Onoja, Interview by author, October 17th 2016.

Daniel, Akogwu, Interview by author, May 26th 2017.

Ejeh, Igoche, Interview by author, October 16th 2016.

Ekwu, Francis, Interview by author, October 18th, June 4th, 2016, 2017.

Ene, Abu, Interview by author, October 18th 2016.

Friday, Onuh, Interview by author, Tape recording, October 20th 2016.

Grace, Ameh, Interview by author, June 5th 2017.

Hon. Simon, Igoche, Interview by author, October 16th 2016.

Janet, Ogwuche, Interview by author, May 27th 2017.

Joseph, Omachoko, Interview by author, October 15th 2016.

Mary, Ekoja, Interview by author, Tape recording, October 20th 2016.

Nne, Ameh, Interview by author, October 16th 2016.

Ogbeh, Ekwu, Interview by author, October 16th 2016.

Ogbene, Omachoko, Interview by author, October 18th 2016.

Onyejeche, Akogwu, Interview by author, October 17th 2016.

Rose, Abu, Interview by author, Tape recording, October 20th 2016.

Sunday, Onuh, Interview by author, Tape recording, October 20th 2016.

Timothy, Onuh, Interview by author, Tape recording, October 20th 2016.                                                    

                                                     GLOSSARY

TERMS.                                                                              THEIR MEANING.

Acoba……………………………………………………………………………..Coconut Trees.

Alekwu ……………………………………………………………………………Ancestral Spirit.

Aluma …………………………………………………………………………Age Grade Labour.

Apole ……………………………………………………………………………Compound.

Ari………………………………………………………………………………..Palm Trees.

Bambara nuts……………………………………………………………… Vigna Subterranea.

Beniseed ………………………………………………………………….. Sesame Seeds.

Ede, Eke,Nfor,Nkwo…………………………………………5 days calendar markets in Otukpa.

Epeilo ……………………………………………………….. Forest of ants.

Igo  ………………………………………………………………………………….Head Chief.

Ijaichi ……………………………………………………..Hamlet Chiefs.

Ite ……………………………………………………….Black oil extracted from Palm Kernel.

Ogede……………………………………………………………………………………..Banana.

Ogrinya ………………………………………………………………….An Idoma Music/ Dance.

Okoho ……………………………………………………………………..Cissus Populmea Plant.

Okpara ……………………………………………………………………... First Legitimate Son.

Opia to ha ………………………………………………………………….. United.

Uche ……………………………………………………….. Language.

Udu, Ogbu andOkorodo……………………………………Vegetables typical to Epeilo people.

 Upi …………………………………………………………Bush Mangoes(also called ogbono).

Sauerkraut/ Kimchi ………………………Meal from fermented cabbage, vinegar and spices.

                                                                                                                                   

 

 


[1] E. E, Ibok. et   E.D,   Rural Water Supply and Sustainable Development in Nigeria: A Case Analysis of Akwa Ibom State. 68, (2014)

 

[2] Varvar, Toryina et al (eds).  The Nile Treaty and the Quest for Justice. Canada, MCGill Univ, 15, no. 1(2009)

[3]Varvar, T.A .et al (eds). ………………p. 12.

[4] Ibid.,12.

[5] Ibok, E.E. et Ekong, E.D. Rural Water Supply and Sustainable Development: A Case Analysis of Akwa Ibom State.  68, (2014)

 

[6] Nwankwoalo, A.O. Localising the Strategy for Achieving Rural Water S-

         upply and Sanitation in Nigeria. 1170 – 1176.

[7]  Coping with Water Scarcity. A Strategic issue and priority for system, August 2006

[8]Kevin, Chukwu. Water Supply Management Policy In Nigeria: Challenges in the Wetland Area of Niger – Delta. Vol. 11, No 26 (September 2015)

[9] Water – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

 

[10] Hehn – Been, L. The Role of the Higher Civil Service under Rapid Social and Political

            Change. Durban, Dukes Univ. press, 1970

[11]Harrington, Austin (ed). Modern Social Theory. 6. Oxford Univ. press, 2005

 

[12] Modernisation Theory. Introduction to International Development Fall 2014

 

[13] Ochinya, Ojiji (PhD). “Idoma Nationhood in the 21st century: The Way

            Forward”.      

[14] Obekpa, J. A. Idoma Origin and Tradition. Opashi Lithographic 

            Press, Makurdi. 2006.  76.

 

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Copyright © Ekoja Okewu 2018

Author: Ekoja Okewu
I am Ekoja Solomon from Nigeria. I love engaging in writeups that spur humanity into action

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