From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
A Kaduna-based non-governmental organisation, Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women (LANW) under Strengthening Transparency and Accountability Project In Education Sector (STATNES) project supported by MacArthur Foundation, has again facilitated synergy between the community monitors and service providing agencies of government in Kaduna State.
The organisation had brought Community monitors in Kaura, Soba and Chikun local government areas of Kaduna State together to have an interface with some of the service providing agencies like Kaduna State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA), State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and Kaduna State Primary Health Care Development Board.
There have been a lot of lapses hindering these community monitors to properly track public projects around them, bringing them face-to-face with those directly responsible for some if these project would go a long way in holding government accountable both from demand and supply sides of the expenditures.
Programme Officer, LANW, Fidelis Otene, told newsmen at the sideline of a two-day quarterly review meeting of the scorecard by community monitors from Kaura, Chikun and Soba local government areas that, the essence was to ensure value for money.
*We are are having a review meeting with critical stakeholders in three local councils where we are currently tracking public expenditures in schools, primary health care and rural water supply.
“It is important we bring these monitors and service providers together to discuss their challenges, solutions and prospects in their areas of coverage. Day one of the meeting saw interaction between service providers and community monitors of these services while only the community monitors shared their experiences on day two.
“The essence is to ensure that good projects are executed by way of curbing leakages and checking corruption in these three pilot local councils”, he said.
Some of the community monitors expressed satisfaction with the meeting as it afford hem the opportunity to have people responding directly to their questions with regards to project monitoring and tracking in their communities.
Aisha Abdullahi, Nasarawa community, Chikun local government, recounted her community’s dilemma in getting water from a birehore constructed by RUWASSA.
“We have problem with one of the RUWASSA borehole in our community. The borehole worked normally for a week after it was sank. But after that, it became a struggle to get water out of it. We have to pump and pump and pump for about 30 minutes before the water will start coming out.
“Once the water start coming out, it will continue running on it’s own, wasting for about an hour. When it stops, you will spend about 30 minutes again before it comes out. When we get across to the people who did the work, they said, they were done with their work.
“But now that we have the agency responsible for it here at this meeting, we expected that many of our pursuits would be addressed here today”, she said.
Another monitor from Tudun-Sebu Community, Soba local government area of the state, Faisia Abdullahi, noted that, the RUWASA water project was not serving them well.
“We were told it was a motorised borehole that was approved for Tudun-Sebu market but the contractor did manual one without any survey.
“The water will work for two weeks and it will stop. We will repair it and it will work for a while and stop again. We have been directed to write RUWASSA so the contractor can come and do the right thing”, she recounted.
But the representative of RUWASSA at the review meeting, AbdulRahman Sani said, his agency had trained people within communities where they have provided borehole to handle minor repairs so the people could have unhindered access to safe and affordable water.
To Sani, “after need assessment, we usually drill handheld pump, motorised boreholes and VIP toilet facilities in the rural areas with support from development partners like the World Bank, UKAID among others.
“Of recent, we train people from various local government aras on how they can maintain and repair faulty boreholes in their communities and initiated a dedicated number which they can call to report faulty borehole if they cannot fix on their own.
“And, most of the problems with these borehole is seal which cost just N50 or N100 in the market. But because they don’t know, they would think it is a serious issue and then deny themselves the privilege of having safe and affordable water.
“We are hoping to tackle open defecation in Kaduna State so as we build toilet, we put water in place. Already, Jaba local government is declared open defecation free. So to achieve this, water is important and that is why we are building the capacity of the beneficiaries of these life-saving projects on maintenance and repair. So, this meeting is another platform to interface with our community people on public expenditures”, he said.