COVID-19 and its Impact on Rural Development in Zaria Local Government

By Mohammed Bayero Yayandi

This story is a result of Orodata’s Micro-Grant support to journalists to produce in-depth investigative and data-driven stories on thematic areas like Development, Healthcare, Covid-19, and Covid-19 Vaccine.

Northern Nigeria is on the frontline of the Sahara Desert, where the effects of climate change manifest ominously as desert encroachment, erratic rainfall, and a drastic reduction in surface and underground water sources. 

To address this, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) partnered with the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) to co-finance and the Kaduna State Water Board now Kaduna State Water Corporation (KADSWAC)  as implementation agency in the implementation of the Zaria Water Supply Expansion and Sanitation Project. 

Under this arrangement, IsDB funded the construction of transmission mains, service reservoirs, and booster stations while FGN funded the construction of the Galma Dam, and AfDB funded the rehabilitation and expansion of the distribution network and the provision of toilet facilities to support and boost the underdevelopment of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for more than two decades.

Zaria Local Government, Kaduna State, North-West, Nigeria, is one of the oldest cities in Nigeria with various prestigious secondary schools like Barewa College and Alhuda-Huda and tertiary institutions like Ahmadu Bello University (ABU  Zaria), Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, and Federal College of Education.

The overall objectives of the water project were as follows:

  • To improve access to safe water supply by residents (51% female) in the city of Zaria and its environs, from current levels of about 30% to 80% by 2016, and improve sanitation in schools, health centers, and other public places like markets and motor parks (to 90%) by 2016
  • To improve service provision and commercial viability of Kaduna State Board, and
  • to improve personal hygienic practices among school pupils and residents.


Who Initiated the Zaria Project?

According to the Daily Sun Newspaper report, the Zaria Water Project has a tall history. It was initiated in 1989 by the Late Brigadier General Tanko Ayuba, continued by General Sarki Muktar. It was inherited by ex-governors Namadi Sambo and Muktar Ramalan Yero, who both implemented the project up to 80 percent completion.

Interestingly, the project has been commissioned three times in the past seven years. The first was done by Governor Mukthar Ramalan Yero, the second by Governor Nasiru El-Rufai while the third was by the then Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Adogie Oyegun in 2017. It was gathered that there is a general belief that the project has since become a conduit pipe, as funds repeatedly allocated to the project have been probably diverted. 

Governor El-Rufai, the current governor of Kaduna State in 2018 accused past governments of diverting the funds set aside for the project: “Already, we have agreed with the contractors to carry on with the project and we will pay them their money monthly until the completion of the project. The project is expected to garner over N60 billion.

“The water treatment plant is going to cost us N24 billion. We are going to spend about N20 billion on the expansion rather than the transmission. It will now cost the state government about N60 billion. The reservoir together with booster stations would cost about N16 billion. Other components of the project include solid waste management under the sanitation program.

“From what we have seen on the ground, if it continues like that, we are convinced they will meet the target and for the expansion, it will be completed around the middle of next year.” He explained that some people built on the water lines while some others built on the transmission lines: “There were so many encroachments into pipeline areas. We have gone far in the rehabilitation of pipelines, we have excavated and removed old pipes and in one way or the other, that will affect people. “Again, by the time you excavate a road, definitely you would discomfort some people, especially road users, as the people will be forced to change their route.

“We have sensitized the general public through opinion leaders on the project of Zaria Water Supply and Sanitation which already is reaching conclusion now. We shall also continue with the excavations and laying of new pipes as well as the expansion of pipes that would take the treated water down to various wards in Zaria. We are going to lay the service pipes that would enable the connection to various residents and industrial consumers within Zaria,” said El Rufai.

Members of different communities and their views regarding the progress of the final phase of Zaria Water Project

Malam Ibrahim Mustafa, a resident of Gyellesu, said, “Honestly, we are begging to see changes in water supply in the town. At the moment we have started receiving water through our taps, which means the project will soon be completed.”

Aliyu Danazumi, a lecturer at Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, said: “Although the project has been on for many years, the test transmission is on, but most areas do not know anything about water running through their taps so there is a need for change.”

Professor Ibrahim Musa Magaji lives at Hanwa GRA: “It is important to remind Mallam el-Rufai of the need to shun politics in the project. The project was commissioned severally, yet no water was received.”

COVID-19 and WASH Facilities in Zaria

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illnesses. The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes, and how it spreads. 

COVID-19 has changed a lot of things in the world ranging from physical things to virtual for training, meetings, and so on. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Kaduna state is the 3rd most populated and oldest state in Nigeria with over a 7.7million population. 

Kaduna State had over 9,036 confirmed cases, 8,935 recoveries, and 65 deaths of COVID-19 (NCDC). It will be hard to curb the virus without adequate WASH facilities in communities and schools, also equally difficult to control the spread of the virus.

The State Government in partnership with development partners and CSO has been making a lot of effort to provide WASH facilities in all communities including MDAs, Motor Parks, Schools, and worship centers through KAD-RUWASSA to help in curbing the spread of the virus.

Progress  and Status of the Project

On Thursday, 22nd August 2019, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, Commissioned Phase 2 of the Zaria Water Supply Expansion Project (Transmission Mains, Service Reservoirs, Booster Stations and Distribution System). 

The project is aimed to be completed by 2020 but due to the pandemic and bans of four companies for fraud by AfDB which also contributed to the delay of the completion of the final phase of the project.

Kaduna was the first state in Nigeria to sign up for the Open Government Partnership (OGP), making it easy to access all information related to projects and financial documents which have been made available by the State government as part of the agreement of joining OGP in ensuring transparency and accountability.

The status of Phase 3 of the project which is the provision of toilet facilities is currently ongoing, which is hoped to achieve before the end of 2021. Recent information on the project and daily update can be found on AfDB Project Portal.

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