We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.

-Thomas Fuller (1732)

Water is an essential part of nature, an important resource. Access to clean, good, drinkable and hygienic water is paramount to the survival of mankind. Few weeks ago, I started a free online GIS course (GISforSI). As an environmental resources management student, I have an interest in the aplication of GIS for Environmental resource management this lead to my search for a GIS course that will fit into my schedule, flexible and practical enough and I found GISforSI. The course was an eye opener for me, GIS is a very important tool that has great potentials in Nigeria, having datasets on a lot of problems will aid in the provision of solution and the system also enables a site specific solution to problems.

Few weeks ago, I was opportune to have access to datasets of public water access points in some areas in Oyo, Osun and Kwara State of southwest Nigeria courtesy @cMapIT. A critical look at the map generated from the datasets with the aid of @CARTO made me realize that although water is ubiquitous in south west Nigeria, access to good hygienic water source is still a major problem for a lot of people in those states.

According to the data available on the map, the people of Kajola Local Government area of Oyo State relies mainly on boreholes (solar powered boreholes, Hand-pumped boreholes and electric powered boreholes) for their supply of good clean and hygienic water. Out of the three solar powered boreholes, only one is working efficiently and the others are out of commission. Out of about 18 hand-pumped boreholes only 8 are still dispensing water to the people of the area, and only one electric borehole is still working. Also, the Ilero water supply scheme by the Oyo State government was abandoned.

The people in Itesiwaju Local Government Area of Oyo State have just two hand pumped boreholes located in Otu town to supply them with portable and drinkable water. In Saki-West local government, they depend mainly on the Oyo State water corporation (Saki branch) to supply the community with hygienic water. They also have alternative sources such as hand pumped boreholes, solar powered and electric powered boreholes with majority of them in working condition.

In Iseyin Local government, the Ado awaye mystery water serves as both tourist attraction center and a source of water supply, just one out of the three solar powered boreholes is working, the only hand pumped borehole is out of commission, and a motorized borehole project is completed but not working.. The water corporation of Oyo State in Koso-Iseyin is working within its capacity to supply the populace with drinkable water. People in Oyo East Local government solely depend on one MDG water supply project for their water needs.

In Afijio Local government, the water works in Ilora provides the residence of about 450 people at about 8 people per household, good hygienic water. There is moderate supply of water with a tariff of about #1500 per month for private residence and up to millions for commercial users depending on their level of consumption or use. According to the residence, water was supplied everyday in the past but presently it is supplied at a week interval. Water is neither recycled nor stored by users, and there is constant supply of water unless there is an industrial strike action by the workers of the water works. In case of any leaked pipe, reports are made to the water works officials and repair is done as soon as possible.

Oyo-West Local government has majority of their water supply intervention projects such as solar powered boreholes, Deep wells, MDG boreholes and Oyo West water supply projects still in good working conditions and serving the communities with just a few spoilt boreholes. Just like in Afijio Local government the residence of Atiba Local government depend mainly on the Atiba water works in Oyo town for their supply of good hygienic water. The water works serves the town of about 11,350 people with 11 persons per house. According to the residence, water is supplied once in a week but for the past two month to the time the data was collected there hasn’t been water supply, there is no form of water conservation or recycling in the area and they experience water scarcity all the time excerpt when the works supplies water, leaked pipes are reported to the works in order for it to be repaired as soon as possible. Also they have two deep wells out of which one is working, a solar powered borehole that isn’t working and a MDG water supply project that isn’t supplying water.

The people in Ogbomosho South Local government area of Oyo state rely on four functioning water sources viz. two Oyo water project boreholes, the water resource center and a hand pumped borehole to meet their water needs. All the solar powered boreholes in the area are not in working condition. The people in Ogbomosho North Local government have more water facilities than their southern counterpart but majority of this facilities are not in working conditions. For example, all the four Energy Commission of Nigeria water projects in the area is out of commission, all the Ajumose and MDG water projects in the area are not in working conditions and The Federal Government water corporation is an abandoned project and in bad condition too. Top-tee factory, a private owned company help people to meet their water needs. Various water supply points in the town serves their various community for example, water supply phase 2 and 3 supplies people in the area where they are located with good hygienic water, water supply at Arije and Ladokun area also supplies people in the environ portable and drinkable water, also the Ogun-Osun water supply basin at Egbeda serves about 400 residents in the area.

In Ejigbo Local government of Osun State, there is a constituency water project that is still under construction, about 13 European Union and UNICEF partnership for rural water supply points with 9 working perfectly to serve the community, 2 is not in working order and one is totally out of commission. There is also federal government of Nigeria and UNICEF partnership water supply point that is not in working order therefore not supplying any water to the community. In Iwo local government, the water works Iwo division is working within its capacity to supply the populace with good hygienic water but their equipments needs repair and upgrade for them to perform effectively. There are other working water supply points such as MDG and Osun state government water supply project and the Iwo local government water supply point at the youth friendly center but the deep well constructed by the local government, the borehole by the chairman caretaker committee, the MDG 2013 conditional grant water supply project and the federal government of Nigeria water project are all in various state of disrepair.

In Aiyedire Local government of Osun State, the African Tropical Timber Organization (ATTO) community water project and the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) water project is providing adequate hygienic water for the community but they have about three (3) out of commission water points viz. two deep wells and a constituency water project. In Osogbo Local government, the Osun state capital, the African development bank (AfDB) assisted RWSS SUB programme borehole water supply located along Osogbo Ikirun road, Osogbo local government hand pump borehole water project and the substrate water corporation osogbo zonal office serves the populace of Osogbo.

There is need for a source of good hygienic water supply in some important areas in the Osun state capital. For example, in Ayegbaju International Market Osogbo , a market that serves about 50,000 people in Osogbo and its environ, Igbona market that serves about 70,000 potential buyers and sellers lacks a source of clean drinkable water. Also, in Orisunbare market drinkable water source is a major problem for the traders.

In Kwara State, residents of Surulere local government area (orile igbin Ilorin road) have just two working water sources viz. Oke-suna Gambari water supply and a borehole at Asileke. Although there are about 5 other water projects but they are either abandoned or not in working condition. In Gambari market, Surulere local government there is dire need for clean and drinkable water. People in Ilorin west local government depend mainly on the Asa Dam works for their water supply. The water from the Dam is treated and distributed to households and companies across the area. In the case of leaking or burst water pipe the engineers are sent to repair and close unused pipes. The dam works doesn’t supply water for agricultural purposes except for users that recycle their waste water for irrigation. The Kwara water corporation is also working at its full capacity and serving the populace in the area. Apart from these, residents of the area have about 4 other water supply points. It is a different story in Ilorin east where the residents rely on just the 2008 MDG GGS Ilorin east water supply which is working perfectly. All the other water supply points are either out of commission or dispensing in-consumable water.

It is evident that a lot of water projects embarked on by both the state and federal government is either poorly implemented or not properly maintained. It is also evident people in some areas in Oyo, Osun and Kwara state don’t have access to clean drinkable water which has a multiplier effect on the health and well-being of the people in those areas. It is disheartening to see that markets, which serve as a meeting point for potential buyers and sellers to carry out economic transactions in most communities in these states, lack a source of clean and drinkable water for both traders and the buyers. Many of the MDG, ECN, PTF and other assisted water projects are not meeting the needs of the people probably because they were not well executed or they lack proper maintenance.

GIS is a tool that can be adopted to build a more efficient water management system in Nigeria. Geographical Information System (GIS) is a computer system which collects, collate, stores and analyses geographical information. It incorporates the hardware, software, and most importantly data which are the information that can be accessed and shared. GIS is a potential tool for water management because with GIS all stakeholders (the elected and appointed officials, policymakers, the police, town planning, health workers, water management board, the citizenry etc.) including NGOs and International organizations have instant access to the large volume of datasets and maps and other information for each specific asset, area and locality. This imported and stored data can easily be maintained and managed. GIS also creates a platform on which a unified community where all stakeholders (the elected and appointed officials, policymakers, the police, town planning, researchers, health workers, water management board, the citizenry etc.) within the community operate and direct their actions towards a common goal of effective and sustainable water management.

The use of GIS in mapping the water supply sources and their efficiency level will ensure that information on the state and level of availability of water to the people of these communities is readily available, this may engender proper planning and implementation of water supply intervention projects. The system has the potential of easing the rigour associated with monitoring and evaluating various water projects and thus will create a more unified and efficient water management system in Nigeria. Furthermore, exploring the potentials of GIS as a tool will aid the monitoring and maintenance of all aspect of water resources from the production point to every water faucet in all households which will translate to an efficient and effective water management in Nigeria.