A 2004 report of the Kwara State Planning Commission concluded that: “Although Kwara State is blessed with sufficient water resources for the needs of the people, actual water supply is very poor in most parts of the state. Access to potable water in urban areas is estimated at 40% of the entire population of about 2.2 million.” The report added that much of the infrastructure (water works, storage reservoirs, pumping stations and distribution networks) was poorly maintained and performing below designed capacity. The Asa and Agba waterworks, which service the State capital, produced only 69 million litres per day, only 50% of its capacity, due to the poor management of the dams’ facilities. And in rural areas, the situation was even worse as people would have to travel as far as 5 kilometres to access water. Both the federal and state governments had attempted to tackle this issue, but little progress had been made.
In an attempt to address the situation, the Kwara State Government set policy to increase water access to 80% of the state’s population by 2007 and to ensure that no one lived over 500 metres away from access to water in any part of the state. This policy target was aptly captured in the governor’s address:
“Kwara State strongly shares the global vision on ‘water for life’. We believe that water is a major factor in achieving other key development objectives, especially in the areas of health, education and poverty reduction. Therefore, our ability to deliver water to the people, at various levels, will largely determine how we hope to perform with other MDG indicators. Kwara State is therefore willing to partner with all stakeholders at national and international levels in meeting this all-important challenge.”
In line with these policy targets, the government established the Standing Water Policy Implementation Committee, which was tasked with resuscitating the dilapidated water schemes in the state. The committee forged partnerships with the Federal Government and International Development Agencies to improve the state’s water delivery capacity and facilitated increased ownership and a more proactive response to water supply by Local Councils. The Committee first renovated 41 obsolete water works in the state and, in doing so, moved closer to achieving the millennium development goal of water and sanitation for all by 2015. Government intervention also led to the creation of a new N1.2 billion water treatment plant at Asa Dam Water Works, capable of producing 12 million gallons per day. This was in addition to the rehabilitation of 44 other water works all over the three senatorial districts of the state. In addition, the establishment of improved and new water facilities has created a professional workforce of engineers who monitor and maintain Kwara’s water resources.
Meanwhile, from 2006, the Ministry of Rural Development embarked on a programme to ensure 10 boreholes per ward-community under its Rural Water Supply Scheme (RUWA). This planned to deliver a total of 1,930 boreholes in all the 193 ward-communities by 2007.
Under the first phase of the programme, the government financed the drilling of 30 new, hand pump-fitted boreholes and the rebuilding of 204 broken down boreholes at N39.5 million. In the second phase, 24 water works and boreholes were renovated and water treatment chemicals were purchased at a cost of N71,147,646, as well as creating another water treatment plant, contracted to Biwater Nigeria Ltd., at the cost of N928,776,972, in order to raise the installed capacity from 12 million gallons per day to 13.5 million gallons.
The government also procured 10,000-litre water tankers to distribute water to all parts of the state as an interim measure while the works were being carried out; these tankers delivered water direct to people’s homes across the state. They also released 15 motorcycles to the State Water Corporation for plumbers to carry out water rationing services, as well as bulk-buying maintenance materials, dredging the Omu-Arana, Oke-Onigbin and Babanla weirs and constructing the Erin-Ile weir.