Getting clean water in a wheelchair

How clean water supply in a village in northern Nigeria is changing lives dramatically

By Oluwatosin Akingbulu
A woman in a wheelchair surrounded by children in her community
06 July 2018

6 July 2018 - Binginde Share village, a home to about 300 people, is located in the vast farmlands of Kano State, northwestern Nigeria, and features houses made of mud and tin roofs huddled together amidst farms of maize and tubers. Situated a short distance from the houses is a handpump borehole surrounded by concrete slabs and a drainage system. Villagers make frequent trips to and from the borehole.

Halima, a 50-year-old mother of three, wheels herself from one of the houses to the borehole located a few meters from her front door. Moving around in a wheelchair does not stop her from fetching water. She has a big smile on her face as she pumps clean water into a small bucket.

“Before we got this pump, I used to go one week without a bath. It was not easy. Most people had to travel to the next community to get clean water,” says Halima.

Halima from Kano State wheels herself to get some water from a handpump borehole in her community
Halima, a 50-year-old mother of 3, wheels herself from her house to the borehole in Binginde Share community, Kano State. Even though she moves around in a wheelchair, she has easy access to clean water thanks to the borehole provided by UNICEF and the European Union

Halima’s wheelchair looks like a handcycle and allows her to move around the house and the village. It is difficult for her to move through rough terrain and cover long distances. Her husband, Ibrahim also moves around in a wheelchair. When water was scarce, she had to rely on friends or neighbours to help her get clean water.

“There were days I couldn’t cook because there was no water,” she says.

Halima was not the only one in Binginde Share who had difficulty getting water – the entire village was impacted in some way. Attendance in the local primary school was poor because children spent hours trekking to find water. Sometimes, the villagers fetched water from ponds and the contaminated water caused frequent bouts of diarrhea.

Children get clean water from a handpump borehole in Kano State
Clean water brings joy for children in Binginde Share, Kano State. With funds from the European Union, UNICEF provided a handpump borehole for this community so they no longer have to travel far to find clean water.

Things changed when UNICEF, with funds from the European Union, constructed a borehole in the community in August 2017. With the borehole, it has become easier for villagers to access clean water. The installation of the borehole is part of UNICEF’s broader support to reform water supply and sanitation in rural communities in Kano, Jigawa, Yobe, Osun, Anambra and Cross River States.

It is easier for Halima to do her daily chores and keep her children clean because of the new water facility. Finding clean water to cook, bath, or wash is now something Halima’s family and the other villagers no longer worry about.

To ensure that the water hand pump keeps functioning well, 15 members of the community have been assigned to supervise the maintenance of the borehole as the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Committee (WASHCom).

“We collect twenty naira from each household weekly and put it into an account. The money we save is used to maintain the water facility,” says Alhaji Useni Maidoya, the Chairman of the WASHCom.