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Government/community Partnership In Water Management And Poverty Reduction

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Oliver Odikamnoro (Abakaliki, Nigeria), Anita Meldrum
Glasgow Caledonia Ubiversity1

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 6: Links with the energy, food and environmental sectors,
AbstractIntroduction: As many causes of poverty are interlinked, water, energy and food are critical factors and as well play positive roles in poverty reduction. Poverty is the state of human beings living with little or no material means of surviving -- little or no food, water shelter, energy, clothes, healthcare, education, and other physical means of living that improves one's life. Poor people are considered as those without jobs, who cannot help themselves or cater for thei. Poverty is pronounced deprivation in well-being, and comprises many dimensions. It includes low incomes and the inability to acquire the basic goods and services necessary for survival with dignity. Poverty also encompasses low levels of health and education, poor access to clean water and sanitation, poor access to energy, inadequate physical and food security, lack of voice, and insufficient capacity and opportunity to better one's life. Youth Leadership for Health's (YLH) programs provides education and technical supports in water, health and poverty reduction through skills acquisition in rural communities of southeast Nigeria. YLH also works to develop capacity of most institutions involved in poverty reduction through provision of necessary needs of the rural poor such as water, food, energy and vocational skills training. In Ndufu-Echara community in Ebonyi state, southeast Nigeria, YLH programmes focused on management of community and school water sources like boreholes, water pits, water storage tanks etc to reduce contamination of drinking water. It also focused on health education and poverty reduction projects through imparting saleable vocational skills in the community people to enable them earn livelihood. Methods/Materials: To enable data collection for the study, the author visited the community most often to participate in age group meetings, Parents/Teachers Meetings on Community Schools Development. The author participated in questionnaire enumeration; observation of hygiene practices, how schools and villagers manage their sources of water, energy sources for easy pumping of larger sources of water for drinking and domestic uses. The focus group discussions focused on access to clean water, access to energy to pump water; it also focused on health, food security and YLH program (Poverty Reduction). Questionnaire survey supplemented with observation of practices was used for data collection. Information gathered from focus group discussions was also used for evaluation of the YLH Program. The data was analyzed using frequency counts and percentage. The author did a descriptive analysis of the results from the questionnaire and the focus group discussions. Results and discussion: The study found that there were boreholes constructed by government which had broken due to lack of maintenance and the inability of community members to manage the water sources. In most places where government built such borehole that operate with energy, the poor community members were not able to fund the maintenance and sustenance of such alternative sources of energy. YLH program was successful in constructing additional 10 small hand boreholes and 5 larger boreholes that pump clean water within the community through supports from the government, churches and other organizations. 82% of the households have benefited from the program through improvement in health status due to reduced diarrhea and other water borne illnesses especially for children. There has been a great improvement in personal hygiene behaviors with an improvement from 12% to 90% of the population using either soap or locally made detergent when washing hands. The places where the community boreholes are sited had been cleared of grasses and hips of refuse. There is now weekly cleanup projects in all the borehole sites and community health workers look after the water sites to prevent the community people from littering the borehole sites with refuse. There is a shift from fetching drinking water from old dirty stagnant pits to fetching clean safe water from the boreholes. Also, money generated from daily affordable sales of the water by the appointed community people is used to maintain and fuel the standby generator sets used for pumping clean water in the community. . Conclusion: Proper management of the water borehole sites by the community leaders and community health workers reduces the burden of disease. Recommendation for the improvement of the program would be to use a multi pronged approach that focuses on health education and infrastructure maintenance. There is a need for close interaction, cooperation and coordination between all the stakeholders such as the community members, YLH, local government, local water governing body, community development committee, electricity energy supply district officers, community health workers, poverty alleviation agencies etc. to ensure program sustainability 1. Elumilade, D. O., Asaolu, T. O. and Adereti, S. A. (2006). Appraising the institutional framework for poverty alleviation programmes in Nigeria. International Research Journal of Finance and Economics. 2.(4) 78. 2. Oseni, A. I., Ehikioya, J. O. and Ali-Momoh, B. (2011). Technical and Vocational Education: Key to Poverty Alleviation in the Third World with Particular Reference to Nigeria. Journal of Education and Practice. 2 (6). 66.
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