On the 15th of March, 2016, MIND (Media Information Narrative Development) held a photo exhibition which narrates the plight of the urban poor in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) vis-a-vis access to water. MIND explores current affairs through the eyes of those who are rarely given the chance to air their views in public, including women and girls. The exhibition, held at Thought Pyramid Arts Centre, Abuja, was well attended.
The high-end photo exhibition confronts us with a simmering issue that affects millions of urban poor women and girls in and around our 'model city', Abuja: their daily struggle to fetch water. The photographs were captured by young rising Nigerian camera artists - Tom Saater, Fati Abubakar, Kassim Braimah, Emamode Edosio and Collins Peters. All the artists have a passion for the cause. By buying their work, you can help improve the water situation in the portrayed communities. All profit will be used for repairing or installing water systems. The galvanising force behind this initiative is Ilse van Lamoen, my long-standing friend and professional colleague. Ilse is the Chief Executive of MIND.
Then came the 'Water Challenge' competition where the volunteers had to carry a heavy basin of water round the Thought Pyramid Arts Centre, and...wait for it...I (Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa) volunteered! I didn't realise the basin was so heavy. On the staircase, I slipped off my shoes and fell...but I managed to complete the exercise! I was the very first to volunteer, and as the oldest person to carry the basin successfully, at 58 years old, I was given special recognition. But the minor bruises and swollen ankle from the fall are quiet reminders of the suffering of the urban poor, especially women and girls as regards 'Wata Wahala'.
Many satellite towns in the FCT are deprived of public water supply services. Residents have to buy water at commercial rates from private borehole owners, 'Mai Ruwa' sellers (jerrican carts), or 'pure water' sellers (sachets). These are much higher than the rates for public pipeline water (Water Board). In other words: urban poor families typically pay more for the water they use than more privileged households in the inner city that are connected to the public pipeline system. This bias in public water supply indirectly holds urban poor families captive in poverty. They spend a large share of their monthly income on buying water. These expenses hinder them from building up savings and from making the necessary investments in their livelihoods and businesses.
Now this from Kayachi, a student in Kuje Area Council (3 km off Airport Rd, Abuja): 'When I wake up in the morning, I go to the stream four times, sometimes two times. The stream is far, I don't know how many minutes it takes me to go to the stream and come back before I go to school. When I am late for school, my teacher flogs me and tells me to do frog jump and kneel down...' The task of fetching water is time consuming, especially in the dry season, when nearby water sources dry up. Water shortage affects children's opportunities. It appears children living in bore-hole equipped estates seem to perform better in school than their peers in water-deprived areas.
This inequity in water distribution between the urban rich/pseudo rich/imaginary middle class and the poor needs to be urgently addressed in order to prevent imminent conflict between these classes of people...Is anyone supporting this noble cause to provide potable water where it is needed? YES...I stand up to be counted...
Check out the following link to see me (Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa) & other participants who took up the 'Water Challenge'... MIND's Wata Wahala highlights https://goo.gl/50XcFA #WATCH #WomenWaterWork https://www.naij.com/766011-read-women-carrying-around-water-basins-head-photo-video.html
22nd March, 2016
*Nigeria joins the world to mark World Water Day www.nta.ng/news/.../nigeria-joins-the-world-world-water-day/2016/.../2...
*#WorldWaterDay 2016: Working towards better water www.nta.ng/news/...worldwaterday-2016-working...water.../2016/103/22
*World Water Day 2016: Hope of quality water for Nigerians https://news.google.com.ng/news/more?nel...79Ydd9iM...O...
*World Water Day: NLC urges FG to give priority to potable water nannewsnigeria.com/world-water-day-nlc-urges-fg-give-priority-potable
*FG: 2016 World Water Day focuses on economic growth ww2.radionigeria.gov.ng>Home>News
*World Water Day: Will the next big conflicts in Africa be on water? agronigeria.com.ng/world-water-day-will-next-big-conflicts-africa-water..
*Fisherwomen face risks of water degradation with fewer assets and alternatives for livelihoods #CSW60 #WorldWaterDay
*UNESCO: Investing in water is investing in jobs! Water is a key factor in the creation of jobs #WorldWaterDay
*Climate change isn't a future issue - it's threatening children's lives NOW uni.cf/5 facts # WorldWaterDay
*3 out of 4 jobs that make up the entire global workforce are water dependent on.unesco.org/1U9vguB #WorldWaterDay pic.twitter.com/NHkOMeiUse
*'My house is a house of rats': Why 150 women marched carrying lanterns & a petition http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/.../my-house
26th March 2016
On the 23rd of March, 2016, the final lap of the Wata Wahala project was a film-based dialogue with the theme 'Women, Water & Work'. This was the closing event of a two-week cultural programme organised by MIND in partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Nigeria and Thought Pyramid Arts Centre.
The dialogue focused on a core problem that holds many urban poor women in and around Abuja captive in poverty: their daily struggle to fetch water. The programme linked the annual themes of the following:
*International Women's Day (IWD) - 8th March, 2016: Pledge for Parity &
*World Water Day (WWD) - 22nd March, 2016: Water and jobs
The dialogue was facilitated by Dr. Husseini Abdu, Country Director, PLAN Nigeria. The Minister for the Environment, Amina Mohammed was at the event. She commended MIND and the artistes whose photographs were on display for the initiative.The urban rural women who fetch water on a daily basis were present. The women and girls said that if the water issue could be resolved, their lives would significantly improve. I (Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa) made contributions to the effect that the conflict and environmental impact assessment of all projects were necessary and women MUST be part of all major decisions affecting communities.
The panelists were:
*Dr. Peter Tarfa, Director, Climate Change, Ministry of the Environment
*Hudu Bello, Director, FCT Water Board
*Michael Ojo, Country Representative, Water Aid, Nigeria
*Kannan Nadar, Chief of WASH, UNICEF
*Patience Ekeoba, Research & Evidence Lead, Voices for Change (V4C)
The discussants tackled the relationship of water with work, how the water issue holds women captive in poverty, etc. The films viewed by the audience and produced by MIND touched on the water problem and its effect on the education, health, safety and economic well-being of women and girls. The organisers promised to send the summary of the debates to implementing authorities for action. Any hope of the urban poor women and girls having a better deal vis-a-vis the provision of water?
10th July, 2016
*Millions of women take a long walk daily with a 40-pound water can ow.ly/Ti3v3021M2m
*Economics of water: It needs a value-based rather than issue-based attention https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/economics-water-needs-value-based-attention...
*Water, sanitation & hygiene for Africa: How to achieve success by 2030 https://www.issafrica.org/events/water-sanitation...