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Problems of Water Supply in the Rural Communities of Nigeria

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Problems of Water Supply in the Rural Communities of Delta State, Nigeria


This study assess the problem of rural water supply in Delta slate with the main aim of examining the factors responsible for the incidence of ineffective water supply to the rural communities of Delta state, Nigeria. Questionnaire survey was the instrument of data generation and a total of 500 questionnaires were administered to 10 rural communities of the state. The data were analyzed with descriptive and multiple regression analyses and the following constitutes as the observations as follows: erratic power supply, embezzlement of fund, diversion of hydraulic equipment, theft, government policy, indiscriminate wastage/carelessness, poor maintenance culture, fruity hydraulic equipment and loss by evaporation.


Studies on water resources have concentrated on urban setting to the detriment of rural communities (Adesuyi, 1996; Adebola, 2001; Ovrawah and Hymore, 2001 and Efe, 2003). For instance, there is absolute absence of water schemes in most rural communities of Delta state e.g. Otorho-Abraka, Samagidi/Kokori, Abbi, Anwai etc., even when they exist, they are non-functioning. Thus, most women and school children balanced basin, buckets, 20-50litres Geri cans on their head and trek long distances to streams, rivers, wells and bore holes. The varied water sources result in consumers spending many hours waiting for water or carrying water to their homes. For example, in Anwai the delay in getting water from private bores is detrimental to the study regime of students of the Delta State University, Anwal Campus.

The inadequate water supply has resulted in water borne disease largely because of the supply misappropriation of fund, diversion of water scheme, erratic power supply amongst other (Efe, 2003). This problem becomes more acute in recent times as a result of increased population. Thus, this work seek to investigate:

  1. the factors militating against effective water supply,
  2. study the cost of each water supply scheme,
  3. study time spent on obtaining water on daily as a social cost; and
  4. study response to ameliorate the problems.

Study Area

Delta state lies between longitude 5°E and 6°45E and latitudes 5°N and 6°30’N and has landmass areas of 16,842km Square. Delta state lies within the Benin, Agbada and Akata formation in terms of geology (see fig.1). The state is drain by river Niger, and its distributaries (Forcados, Escravos and Warn river and creeks), Jamieson and Ethiope (www.on1ine.nigeria.com 2312/05). River Niger drains the eastern flank of the state and empty it water into the sea. Delta state has a population of about 2,590 491, where about 75% of her population lives in rural areas (1991 census), without good access to potable water. The state is divided into three seaatorial districts: Delta North, 793,517; Delta central with a population 936,707 and Delta South, 865,540 population (Omaksone, 2004).


This work-utilised data generated through direct fieldwork exercises. The instrument of data generation is the questionnaire administration. The questionnaire was administered through systematic sampling technique. On the whole, a total of 50 questionnaires were administered to eh community, making a total of 500 respondents that were interviewed. The data were analysed with the aid of multiple regression analysis and descriptive statistics.

Data Analysis and Discussion of Results

Source of Water Supply

Different types of water supply sources exdist in the study for effective utilisation of the respondents as follows (See table 1)

Table 1: Sources of rural water supply in Delta State


Source: Author’s fieldwork, 2005.

Table I indicates that 39% of the rural inhabitants of these communities obtain their drinking water from Rain Water Harvesting, 24% from river or stream who carried the water through long distances, 14% from Wells, 13% from private boreholes who make a charge to households on the water supplied, 9% from Tankers which supply water to homes from long distances, and 1% from state owned boreholes who provide free water services to the households. Most of the water sources are owned and maintained by private individuals. For instance out of the 72 boreholes in table 1, it is only 3 that are owned and maintained by State Government. These bores are found in Patani, Ozoro, Anwai. This represents only 4% of the boreholes in these communities. The State owned boreholes are very irregular in their water supply.

Essentially, there are times

Quantity, Distance, Time and Cost of Water

Table 2 show the volume of water supply to each household, distance and time spent in obtaining water from the various sources. On daily basis, an average of 80 litres of Rain Water are harvested whenever it rains. This recorded the highest volumes of water obtained by each household. About 30minutes are spent on the average whenever it rains by each household fetching water.

Table 3: Average time and daily demand of water per household





Quantity per household (litres)





1 ½ km





1 ½ hours

30 minutes

It is observed from table 3 that Well Water recorded 35 litres of water obtained by each household at a time and distance of 1hours 30minutes and 1km respectively. The volume of well water obtained by each household is attributed to the long distance and time spent, hence reduction in the quantity of supplied. According the inhabitants because they cannot afford the price of Borehole water, we resort to trekking distance places and spending long time as well carrying water from Wells and Streams the various houses. Similarly, the long time and distance spent in obtaining water from streams reduces the quantity of stream water supply. This show an average of 30litres of stream water supply at a time and distance of 2hours and 1 V2 km respectively spent in obtaining stream or river water by each household. Thus, the higher the distance and time spent in obtaining water from these sources reduces the volumes of water demanded by each household (See fig, 2). For instance it is clear from these communities (Otorho, Ozoro, Ekpan-Ovu, Kokoro and Patani) in fig.2 that as the time expended in obtaining domestic water increases, the quantity of water demanded by the inhabitants of these communities decreases. Though the water from these sources is free, but there is economic cost to the water as children, women and students in most of these communities spend a considerable time carrying water to meet their need, which time they could have expended in earning income.

Fig. 2: Domestic water consumption and time required for well water and stream water collected at Otorho-Abraka, Kokori Ekpan-Ovu, Ozoro and Patani

Similarly, it also reduces the time they could have expended in household labour amongst other activities. However, the cost of water from boreholes and tankers led to the reduction in volumes of water obtained from boreholes and water tankers.

Factors of Ineffective Water Supply

The respondents generally agreed that in all the rural communities they experienced acute problem of water supply. Essentially, they observed that the factors that are responsible for the problem of water supply relates to erratic power supply, embezzlement of fund/corruption, diversion of hydraulic equipment/political factors, theft, government policy, indiscriminate wastage/carelessness, poor maintenance culture, faulty distribution system and topography of the areas (See table 4).

Table 4: Correlation co-efficient between acute problem of water supply and the associated factors responsible.





Faulty hydraulic equipment

- .347


Loss of evaporation

- .498


Poor maintenance culture



Erratic power supply



Indiscriminate wastage/carelessness



Government policy



Diversion of hydraulic equipment



Embezzlement of fund or corruption





Source: Author’s Fieldwork, 2005

The results of the correlation statistics shows that the problem of inadequate water supply to the rural communities of Delta State, rely heavily on the predictive factors The individual explanatory contributions of each of this predictive model are discussed below.

Erratic power is the highest explanatory factor of inadequate water supply. This is evident from a positive correlation coefficient of 0.48 (see table 4). This is significant at 0.05 confidence level, This shows a positive contribution, and as such the problem of water supply became worsen with increasing epileptic power supply to these communities. For instance most of these communities resort to the use of self-generating plant to pump the water through self-help efforts. But as a result of hike in prices of petroleum products, the generating plant was abandoned, hence acute shortage of water supply to these communities. The second contributory is embezzlement of fund, which shows a correlation coefficient of 0.39, thus water problems became more acute as more funds meant for water projects are embezzled. For examples there are series of complains by the rural inhabitants that huge amount of money has been released for the sitting of water projects by the successive government. But such projects are either not undertaken due to embezzlement of fund or they are poorly executed. As such, most of the hydraulic projects packed up soon after commissioning.

The third predicative factors affecting acute supply of water in the rural communities of Delta State is the diversion of hydraulic project or political factor. This indicates a positive correlation coefficient of 0.35. For instance, water projects meant for Otorho Abraka, Abavo, Samagidi etc has been diverted to personal compound or to other villages because these communities did not vote for them during the last political dispensation. Theft of hydraulic equipment is the fourth predictive factor of water supply with positive correlation coefficient of 0.33. This indicates that as more hydraulic equipment are stolen or vandalized, the problem of water supply to the area will become more acute For instance the generating plants and submersible pump at Emevo, Otorho — Abraka, have been vandalized. Thus, the acute problems of water supply in these in these rural communities of Delta State. Another causal factor is the lack of laudable government policy of water supply for all (both rural and urban areas of the state). This factor shows weak positive effects of 0.22 correlation coefficient. The state, local government and ministry of water resources in Delta state, have not made concerted effort to actualise this policy, to them they are constraints with the problem of finance and high price of hydraulic equipments.

Another identified factor of inadequate water supply is indiscriminate wastage arid careless use of water. This indicates correlation coefficient values of 0.12. In some of the rural communities (Patani, Ozoro, and Anwai) where there is existence of public tap, it is not uncommon to find children and some adults, attempting to drink direct from household and public taps without using a container. At times, the children forget to lock the tap back after usage. In this way, they waste the greater portion of the water, and the wasted water is depended on pressure of the area. This view collaborated the work of Oyabande (1981) in the city of Jos. Lack of good maintenance culture is another causal factor in the areas where there is public water supply. It shows weak correlation coefficient of 0.04. For instance, most of the equipments are old and absolute and some of the pipes are corroded, without replacement. As such, there is frequent breakdown of• the equipment. Similar to this factor, is faulty hydraulic and distributing system. Due to corrosion and old age of the pipe lines there are many leakages from these pipelines and finihy fitting in tank. This indicated an inverse effect on effective water supply. This is evident from a correlation coefficient of —0.35.

The topography of the area recorded the list amongst the predictive factors of

water problem. This shows an inverse correlation coefficient of —0.50. This factor is most severe in Delta north senatorial district (Anwal, Uineunede and Abavo) communities. For examples at Anwai it takes up 200 — 250 feet depth before the aquifer can be stroke, at Abavo and Umuenede it takes 180 — 210 feet depending on the location, such, sitting of water project in these areas is relatively very difficult.


Certainly the health, amenity and standard of living of the inhabitants of these communities are dependant upon the provision of acceptable system of water supplies to these rural communities. Its regular supply enhanced liveability and longevity of Life in this environmental setting. To enhance regular supply of water to the rural inhabitants of Delta state there is urgent need to adopt the above policy measures.


Adebola, K.D. (2001) Groundwater Quality in Ilorin Township: An Environmental Review. African Journal of Environmental Studies 2(2): Pp. 4-7.

Adesuyi, O. (1996) Nigeria Produces 25 year water Masterplan. Ultimate water Technology and Environment 1(1): l7-ISpp.

Efe, S.I. (2003) Water Quality and its Utilisation in the Nigerian Rural Setting of Abraka Delta State, Nigeria. International Journal of Ecology and Environmental Dynamics. Maiden (ed) pp. 81 —86

Ovrawah, L. and Hymore, F.K. (2001) Quality of Water from hand-dug wells in the Warn Environs of Niger Delta Region 2(2):pp. 169-173

Oyebande, L. (1981) The Hydrology of Urban Water Supply: A Case of Jos. P.O. Sada and J.S. Oguntoymbo (eds) in: Urbanisation Processes and Problems in Nigeria. Ibadan. University Press pp.141 — 149.


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