By Mimi Ucheagwu
The sleepy town of Ilase-Ijesha, Osun State, a community that is about 20 minutes drive from Osogbo, the state capital, came to life as the people, led by the traditional ruler, trouped out in their numbers to witness the formal handing over of a solar-powered borehole system, donated by International Breweries Plc. This relief is coming to the community after many years of coping with challenges of unavailability of clean, potable water.
Many communities often have to contend with the water-related problems because of unavailability of potable water. The occasional outbreaks of cholera, diarrhea, river-blindness, guinea-worm, typhoid fever, dysentery and other water-borne diseases in some communities across Nigeria that lack access to clean potable water remains a major contributing factor to high infant and maternal mortality.
A report by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, showed that over 57 million Nigerians lack access to clean water. Many rural communities and urban ones as well access water from polluted sources like rivers, streams, ponds, wells, and canals, etc, which they use for cooking, washing, bathing and drinking. Only about 26.5 percent of the population use improved drinking water sources and sanitation facilities. Instructively, Nigeria is among the five countries in the world contributing to about one-third of the global under-five mortality rate traceable to the consumption of unsafe water. Provision of safe, clean water would radically change this narrative.
In Logbara, a district of the Orile-Imo community in Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area of Sagamu, Ogun State, access to safe water was a major issue, causing untold hardship to the community, which typically relied on harvesting rain-water. In the dry season, unfortunately, the water problem would become far more pressing. Worse hit by this predicament is the primary health centre, located within the Owode area. Mrs. Funmilayo Sunmonu, the matron of the centre, recalled the nightmare patients and staffers of the centre, hitherto encountered just in order to get water, particularly when a women fell into labour. With the donation of a solar-powered borehole, the people in these communities can now heave a sigh of relief as the water nightmare is finally over.
Speaking with excitement at the commissioning of the borehole, Akintoye Olufemi, a resident of Logbara, Orile-Imo, said the people are very excited and are grateful for the facility, which has been servicing them even before it was formally handed over to the people by International Breweries. According to Olufemi, their problem began after they were resettled by the Ogun State government from their original hometown where they were displaced due to the dualisation of the Abeokuta-Sagamu inter-change expressway. Once they were resettled, they discovered water was lacking in the community, which has caused a lot of health challenges.
So bad was the water situation that they relied on nature during the rainy season by storing rain water. At other times, they trekked long distances to streams or wells to get water during the dry season. Being a peace-loving people, they continued to hope that one day the situation would change for the better. It was against this backdrop that International Breweries Plc, a member of the largest brewer in the world, ABInbev, through its CleanerWorld initiative, undertook to provide a solar-powered borehole in Logbara and a number of communities in some southwestern states in the country.
Spokesperson of International Breweries Plc, Otunba Michael Daramola, reiterated that water is critical not only to the survival but also the health and wellbeing of every community. As a socially responsible organization that is very concerned about the health and well being of its communities, International Breweries PLC, he said had undertaken to help provide succor in the core area of water to these communities. He added that this key focus of his organization was indeed in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN which emphasize ensuring a sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
While inadequacy or unavailability of potable water is a problem in some communities, there are others for whom dysfunctional or unavailable health care facilities are a pressing problem. . Functional primary healthcare centres are critical to the health and well-being of every community because of the important role they play in facilitating accessibility to affordable healthcare. Such facilities are meant to be the bedrock of public health services in the country and are usually the first point of contact with health services and typically provide a point of entry to the entire health system for the people at the grassroots. Research also shows that access to primary health services is linked to better health outcomes, including improvements in self-rated health and a reduction in all-cause mortality. In 1978, Nigeria, along with other World Health Organisation’s member countries adopted the declaration institutionalising primary health centres as the basic structural and functional units of public healthcare delivery systems.
Unfortunately, however, most primary health centres in the country today lack the capacity to provide essential healthcare services, particularly due to poor infrastructure, lack of adequate equipment, insufficient of essential drugs, poor distribution of health workers and inadequate electricity to power the available equipment.
Under its BetterWorld initiatives, International Breweries renovated the Esa-Odo primary health centre and in addition, donated hospital equipment to the centre to aid caregivers in providing better care for pregnant women. In addition, it donated a generator to power the centre.
“At International Breweries, we strive to impact every community where we operate and make it better than we met it. As a result, our projects are designed to be beneficial to the whole community and this is the essence of our give-back policy as encapsulated in our CleanerWorld and BetterWorld programmes, comprising water, health, culture and economic empowerment,” Otunba Daramola said during the handover ceremony.