WATER MANAGEMENT IN A DISTURBED ECOSYSTEM OF OKOROMBOKHO, EASTERN OBOLO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, AKWA IBOM STATE, NIGERIA
1.1 Background of Study
Water is a resource that is becoming increasingly scarce and needs to be sustained globally and locally. One of the most serious problems faced by billions of people today is the availability of freshwater. The importance of water supply for domestic uses cannot be compromised not only because of its social and economic values but also because water-based sources of livelihoods have become critical to the survival and health of most rural households, providing valuable contributions to rural livelihoods (Bain, Cronk, Hossain, Bonjour, Onda, Wright, Yang, Slaymaker, Hunter, Pruss-Ustun, and Bartram, 2014). Water is therefore a very strategic socio-economic asset especially in poor economies where wealth and survival are measured by the level of access to water. It has been estimated that 1.2 billion people have no water within 400m of their dwelling (Grant., Mill, Holbrook, Lymburner, McTavish, and Sundby, 2002).
According to WHO/UNICEF (2004) water coverage refers to the proportion of the population using improved sources of drinking water. It is based on the principle that an improved source of water is designed to deliver water to a certain number of people. Again, rural water coverage and access are terms that have been used interchangeably and have been defined differently by different practitioners. Rural water coverage is often calculated by multiplying the number of each safe water point by the number of people who should be served by those water points. However, coverage may not give an accurate estimate of access due to functionality and distance to the water source(s). For example, it could be assumed that the water point can serve a particular number of people but the the number actually having access could be very different (IIDL, 2008). The Ministry of Local Government and Housing, Zambia defined access to water in rural areas based on the ability of people to collect at least a minimum of 25 liters of water per person per day for domestic purposes all year round, and also walk less than 500 meters to the water point (Musanda, 2004; Village Water, 2010). This could be a good definition, but some raised the issue that queuing at the water point can sometimes take time. For instance, in Mozambique, 30 minutes’ round trip which included going to the water point, queuing, fetching the water, and returning home were added as additional criteria for water access to be made.
UNICEF/WHO (2004) broadly defined rural water access as the availability of at least 20 liters per person per day from an improved source within one kilometer of the user’s dwelling. The standard for Nigeria according to the National Water Supply and Sanitation Policy (NWSSP, 2000) is that access to rural water supply should guarantee a minimum level of service, 30 liters per capita per day within 250 meters of the community of 150 to 5000 people, serving about 250-500 persons per point in the rural households. Inaccessibility and unequal access to safe water supply can constrain the inclusiveness of growth and thus result in a low standard of living among the rural people (Yange, Bain, Bartrum, Pedley, and Wright, (2013). In the circumstances where access is denied, the community as well as individual standard of living and productivity become drastically reduced. Governments and organizations all over the world have realized that sustainable water and wastewater management is a necessary component of functioning communities. On the other hand, since the dawn of human civilization, people have been struggling with rivers in order to prevent flooding and secure adequate freshwater supply with acceptable water quality. The capacity of mankind to control and harness natural resources has increased enormously with the rapid development of society and technology in the past century. By now, people have transformed many natural landscapes and aquatic ecosystems by means of hydraulic engineering projects such as dams, irrigation systems, and large-scale water transfer (Song, 2012).
However, due to the extensive urbanization and industrialization, urban land-use change in many cities has resulted in irreversible disturbance of the hydrological systems via reclamation, alteration and population (Du, 2010). Human activities have significant impacts on water quantity, quality, and aquatic ecology (Huggett, Lindley, Gavin, and Richardson, 2004), but the negative effects of this anthropogenic intervention may not be immediately visible at an early stage. Consequently, when the final negative results appear (e.g. flooding disaster, serious water pollution) after a long-term accumulation, it is normally impossible or costly to address these problems. Asides from anthropogenic activities, natural activities such as climate change has also influenced water availability by altering temperature and precipitation and sea levels (Stewart et al., 2005, Hodgkins, Dudley, and Aichele, 2007).
Water crises (flooding), too little water (drought), and dirty water (pollution), may in turn become major obstacles to sustainable urban development. According to Leopold (1968), the hydrological effect of urbanization, involves the change in a total run-off with an alteration of peak flow characteristics, a decline in the quality of water, and changes in the hydrological amenities of streams. Randolph (2004) demonstrated that the increase of impervious surfaces (roads, parking lots, rooftops) associated with urban development affects the hydrologic system and pollutes surface and groundwater. In recent decades, unprecedented water scarcity, pollution, and degrading ecosystems in many regions have pushed both researchers and policymakers to devote more effort to ensuring/restoring ecologically healthy water systems in relation to water quantity and quality and to achieve water-centric harmony between humans (economy) and nature. Due to the importance of water to national development, several government agencies, parastatals, and NGOs have put in serious efforts aimed at addressing rural water supply and sanitation issues. Some of the agencies for rural water supply in Nigeria are:
i. UNICEF assisted state water and sanitation projects (1981 – 2010).
ii. National Borehole program (1981 – 1986).
iii. Directorate of Food, Roads, and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI).
iv. Japanese International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) Rural Water Supply Projects 1992 – 1994.
v. Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (1996 – 1999).
vi. Improved Access to Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (2000 – 2001).
vii. European Union (EU) Water and Sanitation Programme 2002 – 2009.
viii. Water Aid’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (1996 – 2010).
ix. Development of Local Manufacture of Hand Pumps (1988 - 2010) (Nwankwoala, 2011).
In Akwa Ibom State, the Government recognizes that clean, safe, and potable water is essential to human life. Various State Government Administrations, past and present recognize the rural water supply problem. Urban water supply is undertaken by Akwa Ibom Water Company while rural water provision is undertaken by the Ministry of Rural Development through its agency known and called Akwa Ibom State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (AKRUWATSAN). The major sources of water for rural dwellers in the state include; wells, rainwater, streams, rivers, lakes, etc. By and large, the quality of water from these sources proves grossly poor. Akwa Ibom State Government has developed a total of 83 mini-water projects in the same number of rural communities to boost the supply of clean and safe water in 13 Local Government Areas (Table 1).
Table 1. Locations of Mini Water Project by Akwa Ibom State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (AKRUWATSAN 2012 -2013)
Water Projects/ Location
Itak Ikot Akpandem, Nung Ukim, Ibiaku Ata, Ikot Nseyen, Nung Imoh, Nkwot, Ediene Ward 9, Itak
Ikot Ebre, Afaha Offiong, Nsidung, Ikot Ita Obotim, Ikot Ekong, Obotim Ikot Atim.
Ikot Ebido, Ikot Mbonde, Obio Atai, Attan Offot, Obot Obom Etoi, Ifa Ikot Abia Ntuen, Mobile Base Idoro
Mbak Obio, Mbak, Mbiatok, Ikot Andem, Oku Iboku, Okpolo Ididep, Ibiaku Itam, Ekit Itam
Ikot Obio Ndua, Ikot Ebre, Afaha Ikot Obio Nkan, Ikot Ide Mbiakpong, Ikot Ikan, Ikot Akpasin, Edem Ibiok, Ikot Iko, Nsidung, Oboyo Ikot Ita, Obotim, Ikot Ekong
Midim, Ibong Ikot Akpan Otoro, Ediene, Offot Abak, Otoro, Oku Abak, Manta Abak
Amamong, Offi, Atabong, Ikot Okiuso, Itak Ekim Oti-Oro, Okopedi, Akpabasi Ayak
Ikot Umoh, Ikot Udobia, Ikot Udo, Afaha Obo
Ikot Essien Enang, Itak Ikot Udo, Ikot Abia Idem Ikot Enwang, Abiakpo Ikot Obio Nting, Ikot Obong Idung
Ikot Abia Ufok, Ikot Etefia Minya, Nung Ukim III, Ikot Abasi Akpan, Ikot Ekpe
Ede Obuk, Usung Inyang, Urua Udoinyang, Ikot Ebok, Ikot Usekong
Iwukem, Etuk Uruk Eshiet, Utu Etim Ekpo, Edem Akai
It is sad to note that Eastern Obolo being one of the oil-producing communities in Akwa Ibom State has not benefited from the State government moves to ensure the availability of water for its people. It is on this note that this study is designed to access the management of water sources and resources in Okorombokho community, Eastern Obolo L.G.A of Akwa Ibom State
1.2 Statement of Problems
According to UNDP (2006), more than 1.2 billion people lack access to clean drinking water and this scarcity affects every continent and around 2.8 billion, people around the world, as faced with water scarcity at least once a month out of every year. This scarcity is most times attributed to disturbance which may lead to water shortage increased water pollution, increased demand, and or overuse of water. Okorombokho is one of such community which is faced with different ecological disturbance. The community is exposed to several forms of disturbances both natural and anthropogenic and these disturbances have affected the various aspects of the people. For instance, the community is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean which is salty in and the water not portable for used for agricultural or domestic purpose as the high salinity poses osmotic stress on both plants and impact the soil texture and water availability. The poor waste management and sanitation plan in the community has also influenced potable water availability as the a freshwater source present in the community is used for both bathing, washing and drinking thus loading the water with organic which subsequently affects the the biochemical oxygen demand of the river and its self-purification capacity. It is believed that this stress has can affect the groundwater supply thereby hindering the community from accessing potable water. Industrialization, urbanization and modern agriculture practices have also directly impacted the water resources quantitatively and qualitatively. Many industries are sited near these bodies of water presumably to facilitate easy discharge of effluents and other pollutants into them. A a typical example is the siting of several flow stations on the territorial waters of the Eastern Obolo with its attendant and often incessant oil spillages, gas flares which eventually lead to acid rains (Udoessien, 2003) experienced in the area. The microbiological and physicochemical study conducted by Itah and Akpan (2005) on the safety and usability of the water from the boreholes in Eastern Obolo revealed very high levels of seven types of bacterial namely: “Bacillus subtilis, Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Micrococcus varians and Escherichia coli” in the water. According to the authors, the bacterial load in drinking water far exceeds the level accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and they were associated with various water-borne diseases. The problems identified by these authors have prompted the need to assess the effective way of managing water resources within the community. According to Udoh, Ukpatu, and Otoh, (2013) the quality of aquatic bio networks is vital for the productivity, survival, and support of aquatic organisms found in them. It is an index of health and well-being of the ecosystem and has a direct impact on human health and this study will attempt to access and proposes some means of managing water and water resources in the typical disturbed ecosystem of the Okorombokho community.
1.3 Objective of study
The the general objective of the study i.