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  • Introduction


Water is a precious natural resource, vital for life, development and the environment. It can be a matter of life and death, depending on how it occurs and how it is managed. Water is a colourless liquid and free of calories. Lack of public water system in the rural areas and the inability of water facilities to function effectively in the towns and cities of Nigeria have made it impossible for most of her population to have access to drinkable water. According to Orebiyi et al. (2010), 52 percent of Nigerians have no access to improved drinkable water supply. Sources such as rivers, boreholes, streams, wells, ponds and rain are still very much depended upon for water needs. The health implications of the use of these sources include alarming rates of water - related diseases and deaths among the population. In World Health Organization‟s (2000) estimates, 4 billion cases of diarrhea are reported each year around the world, in addition to millions of other cases of illness associated with lack of access to clean water. Gleick (2002) estimated global deaths arising from water- related diseases at between 2 - 5 million yearly. Although there are no accurate data on water related cases and deaths in Nigeria, studies have however shown that cases of typhoid, cholera and other water related disease and deaths have been on the increase in recent times. According to the WHO (2003), 200,000 people in Nigeria were estimated to be blinded of trachoma diseases with overall prevalence blindness of 1.3 percent. Studies on schistosomiasis infection in different parts of Nigeria by Nmorsi et al. (2005) and Pukuma et al. (2007) show that infection rate is high. They attributed this to the use of infested rivers, streams and ponds (Ojeifo, 2011).


Water is very important and without it life and civilization cannot survive or develop. Man requires about 40-60 litres of water daily for drinking to keep healthy (WHO, 1996), However, the average consumption in Nigeria is less than 12 litres per capita per




day (Egunjobi, 1987). Despite the abundance of fresh water on earth, many regions are in crises of drinkable water, especially the third world countries. Every day we make use of large quantities of water. It is vital not only for cooking and of course drinking, but for washing clothes, dishes and ourselves, for flushing the toilets, watering the garden and a hundred other uses about the home. It is the single most important commodity that we all require and yet take most for granted. Water services includes sanitation are essential to life and health, economic development, and human dignity. Everyone knows this and yet many people around the world do not have adequate drinkable water services. The provision of efficient and reliable environmental services, especially water, is very critical in the overall development of any nation. The service is central to the activities of households and to economic production.


Although there is sufficient clean water for everyone‟s basic needs, more than a billion individuals lack access to adequate water supply, while over 2 billion of persons lack access to adequate sanitation (Centre on Housing Rights and Eviction (COHRE, 2004). The inaccessibility to water has clear human rights dimensions. The poor and other low income groups are always the worst affect. Even in countries with an abundance of water and resources, many individuals don‟t have access or sufficient drinkable water and other basic needs. Deprived urban and rural areas are frequently neglected or totally ignored in infrastructure development and maintenance and in moves to privatize water supply services. Majority of the households don‟t receive water from the main utility; even though they would prepare to pay for the services. Others are not connected, but get water for only a few hours a day. Even fewer are connected to a sanitation network often the water isn‟t drinkable and waste water isn‟t properly treated. In Nigeria, the public sector have dominates in provision of water. In most places, these services have been provided free or at little cost to the consumers. Despite the responsibility of the Government, most of the local Government Areas (LGAs), most especially those in urban areas have failed woefully. It should be recalled that Nigeria is a country that is endowed with abundant ground and surfaced water resources, yet the water supply




situation in Nigeria remain pathetic. Most part of the country continues to experience water shortage resulting in the outbreak of water borne diseases (Olokesusi et al, 2005).


The social well-being, ecological preservation, human nutrition, production of goods and services communication would be almost impossible with quantitative and qualitative water inadequacies. (Olokesusi et al, 2005). Drinkable water is basic human need that must be satisfied in adequate quantities that comply with minimum health standard. Better access to drinkable water contributes to good health, livelihood and broadens economic development outcomes. Housing is a physical structure used for shelter. It includes all facilities, equipment‟s, devices needed or desired for healthful living which water supply is very important. The society is made up of various households, which critically need water for survival. Provision of water is important because it determines the overall health of each household. Adequate and access to drinkable water and sanitation facilities are part of the eight millennium development goals (MDGs) which are expected to be realized globally by 2015, with the realization of the above statement will be comfortable to say that water constitutes an essential element of life (Topfer, 1998).


Although rain water is a major source of water in all the rural communities in Nigeria, but the technology for storing and preserving the water is still very poor. There is the need to design appropriate water storage devices for use in the rural areas in order to make water available for the people throughout the year. Considering the fact that most of these rural communities are small, centrally placed storage devices that the whole community can use ensure easy accessibility to everyone in the community.



Historical Antecedents of Water Policy Formulation in Nigeria


Nigeria has abundant water resources although they are unevenly distributed over the country. The highest annual precipitation of about 3,000 mm occurs in the Niger delta and mangrove swamp areas of the south-east, where rain falls for more than eight months a year. There is a progressive reduction in precipitation northwards with the




most arid north-eastern Sahelian region receiving as little as 500 mm a-1 precipitation for about 3-4 months of rainfall. Widespread flooding occurs in the southern parts of the country, while the northern parts experience chronic water shortages during the dry season when rain fed springs, streams and boreholes dry up. The problems associated with the lack of adequate portable water supply in the country threaten to place the health of about 40 million people at risk. According to the World Bank (1990), it would cost in excess of US$10 million a year to correct such problems if ground and surface water contamination goes unchecked. The people most affected tend to be the urban and landless poor. In the long-term, the present level of environmental degradation could create health problems from water-borne diseases from most of this population. Many people are already affected by having to consume unsafe drinking water. Water contamination also places other resources at risk; fisheries and land resources, for example, have already been affected significantly. Most of the environmental pollution problems arise from anthropogenic sources, mainly from domestic and industrial activities. It is based on the realization of this fact and the importance the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) attached to adequate water supply that water resources management has always being part and parcel of the National Policy on Environment. The National Policy on Environment (NPE) The National Policy on the Environment (NPE) was launched by the then Head of State, General Babangida in Abuja on 27 November 1989 (FEPA, 1989). The goal of that policy was to achieve sustainable development in Nigeria and, in particular to:


  • Secure for all Nigerians a quality environment adequate for their health and well-being.


  • Conserve and use the environment and natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.


The study focuses on the contribution of the residents and their coping mechanisms in providing water for themselves. This study will make it possible to know whether residents in urban areas make provision towards meeting their basic facilities such as water. Also, to know the cost incurred by the residents in the provision of basic




facilities such as water, whether it is minimal compared with what they would have paid if the Government is involved in the water supply.


1.2  Statement of Problem


Human welfare and economic development generally depend on the use of water. In Nigeria, water resources management and utilization is crucial to the country‟s efforts to reduce poverty, grow the economy, ensure food security and maintain the ecological systems. Nevertheless, the issue of water resources management in the country focuses mainly on water supply and receives only minimal attention by government. The rate of migration from rural areas in developing countries has led to the emergence of high urbanization. Jinadu,(2004) observed that with high urban population increase, there is the increasing demand of urban dwellers for basic facilities and high rate of unemployment has further worsened the city situation. A number of efforts have been made on water supply and storage to meet the resident‟s needs. Policy and programmes have also been formulated by the government to meet the residents‟ water needs.


However, researches have been done on water-related issues such as impact of government on the provision of basic facility, water supply and distribution in the urban centres.


Provision of water in Ekpoma is observed by Toolkit, (2005) as being generally unsatisfactory. Households are not provided with water by the government, though they may be prepared to pay for the services. There is no water source in most houses and where there is, many challenges occur in the water supply. The future water demand based on urban population growth rate; often outgrow the rate of provision thereby worsening the problem. Households are not connected to the public water mains but only get water from the well and reservoir. Often the water is not drinkable. In the face of the existing diverse challenges facing residents of Ekpoma in accessing water for drinking and ablution there is need to conduct empirical investigations into the diverse coping mechanisms adopted by the households and individuals in the city. Achieving this is the main thrust of the study.




1.3  Significance of the Study


The importance of water in planning cannot be neglected, as it is a very necessary need, which has an effect on the environmental conditions. The major global development framework today is the millennium development goals (MDGs). The millennium development goals include reducing the proportion of people without access to drinkable water by 2020. In planning, provision of water supply and adequate sanitation is given priority because it determines the overall health of the households. Water provision to the populace needed to be regulated, coordinated and controlled for adequate and efficient water supply. The relevance of this study is to assess the mechanisms that the resident‟s employed in meeting their water needs, thus making the concept of coping and stress relevant.


1.4  The Scope of Study


The study dwells on the water supply strategies adopted by the residents of Ekpoma. With regards to this, the number of the household in Ekpoma was examined. The study did not cover the aspect of surface/ ground water test analysis of the study area. The study did not also dwell on the effects of lacks of water on the health of the people. The spatial scope was Ekpoma communities consisting of ten communities and the sample size was limited to five randomly selected communities that form the study area.


1.5  The Research Questions.


For the purpose of adequate assessment of the resident‟s coping mechanisms towards meeting their water needs and their sustainability‟s, the following research questions were posed for the study.


  1. What are the various sources of water supply in Ekpoma?


  1. Is the existing level of supply of drinkable water in Ekpoma adequate or not?


  1. What are the diverse coping mechanisms adopted by the resident‟s?




  1. What are the various inherent challenges in the adopted coping devices?


1.6 Research Aim and Objectives


The aim of the study is to investigate residents‟ coping mechanisms towards meeting their water needs in Ekpoma.


The specific objectives of the study are to:


  1. Examine various sources of water supply in Ekpoma;


  1. Determine the adequacy or otherwise of the existing level of drinkable water supply in Ekpoma;


  1. Examine the coping mechanisms adopted by the residents;


  1. Examine inherent challenges in these coping mechanisms;


  1. Propose strategies to address the identified challenges.



  • Hypothesis of the Study


Ho: There is no significant relationship between coping mechanisms and water supply to the households in the study area.


Hi: There is significantly relationship between coping mechanisms and water supply to the households in the study area.