In what is perhaps the most significant humanitarian project undertaken by her NGO, Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ) in its two-year history, the wife of the governor of Anambra State Chief Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano has fulfilled the yearnings of the Omasi-uno community in Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra State with the rehabilitation, upgrade and expansion of the community water scheme which had been abandoned for over twenty years.
The project which was commissioned on June 15, 2016 with pomp and ceremony orchestrated by the indigenes marked a fitting end to the long wait for portable drinking water in the agrarian community. In a carnival-like procession, men, women and youths of Omasi-uno trooped out in numbers, singing and dancing joyfully to welcome the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano and his wife Ebelechukwu on that fateful day which is now undoubtedly etched in their memory as a day of redemption from thirst and water scarcity.
Following a heart-rending and sobering encounter Mrs. Obiano Ebelechukwu Obiano had during a fact-finding visit to the community in March 2016 where she met women with babies strapped on their backs bending over to scoop water from a pit – the only source of water in the community for over two decades is a broken borehole from which water runs in trickles to the reticulation pit. The villagers had adopted a unique system in the face of dire water challenge by allotting daily turns to households to fetch water from the pit to ensure that the droplets of scarce drinking water in the dugout gets across to many. In fact, at the height of the water problem, the community reportedly lost over two hundred children to an outbreak of gastroenteritis epidemic in early 2014.
It was therefore in response to the challenges faced by the villagers especially women, that Mrs. Obiano resolved to assist Omasi-uno community with four boreholes under the CAFÉ Borehole projects. True to her words, Mrs. Obiano dispatched a hydrologist to scope the area to ensure that such a project was feasible. However, the initial assessment indicated that the terrain would be a drilling nightmare for hydrologists who would have to go to a depth of over 20,000feet with remote chances of finding portable drinking water not to mention the millions of Naira that would go down the drain. Hence Omasi-uno topography was adjudged not amenable to borehole water drilling.
But further probe by the engineers revealed that the broken source of water came from an artesian well formation from a rock beneath Omasi-uno which was years ago channeled to supply water to the community. Thus Mrs. Obiano’s CAFÉ resorted to the Option B – to properly harness the artesian water from source; rehabilitate, upgrade and expand the water into a scheme that would serve the community from multiple sources. Thankfully, the option turned out a good omen for both the community and the sponsors, CAFÉ.
Speaking during the Commissioning of the water scheme, Governor Obiano confirmed that Omasi-Uno community had been neglected for over 20 years but is now getting a relief following the intervention of CAFE which stepped in to check the incidence of high child mortality rate in the area by rehabilitating, upgrading and expanding the water scheme to the delight of the indigenes and encouragement of his administration. Obiano noted that what was remarkable about the water project was that CAFÉ had been able to assist the needy with donations from philanthropists who made it possible for them to be touching many lives for good.
The governor promised the community that the access road leading to the town would be rehabilitated to enable the farmers transport their products. He also informed the people that the government is expanding the Rural Electrification programme in Ayamelum covering the area which is expected to be completed in six months and called on them to protect the projects.
Apparently buoyed by the joyous mood amongst residents of Omasi-uno which was a far cry from the setting when she last visited, a visibly excited Mrs. Obiano told Omasi-uno people that she felt fulfilled to have brought happiness back on their faces by getting her, NGO CAFÉ to support the efforts of Anambra State government through the successful rehabilitation, upgrade and expansion of the community water scheme which had been abandoned for many years.
Said she; “CAFÉ’s search for solution was borne out of the pathetic situation of acute water scarcity in Omasi-uno which had brought untold health hazard to the community years ago. It was a big surprise to me personally that they were surviving with little or no water all these years. So when I came and saw the situation we decided to drill boreholes but the experts found a better alternative which we can see has yielded more fetching points across the community. You can see how happy they are, that to me is enough fulfillment.”
Mrs. Obiano also thanked CAFÉ donors within and outside Anambra State for their support and encouragement of the work of her NGO, as she put it “they are the ones who make such life-saving interventions possible as a way of ameliorating the sufferings of the less privileged and supporting the delivery of good governance by the administration of my husband Chief Willie Obiano to Ndi Anambra.”
Explaining the peculiar water challenge in Omasi-uno, Managing Director of TONA Geological Services and Project Consultant, Chief Dr. Tony Anukwu said that they discovered that borehole projects are not sustainable in the area due to the difficult terrain which showed that even drilling down to a depth of 20,000 feet does not guarantee portable drinking water.
He however noted that the community was adequately compensated by providence with the availability of the artesian water source which became a viable alternative. Furthermore, Chief Anukwu explained that his company carried out comprehensive rehabilitation of the broken old water source to improve the flow into a 5000 capacity overhead storage tank with the addition of a motorized and solar powered pump to ensure round-the-clock steady supply of water to thirteen fetching points spread across the village.
Expressing their joy, some of the villagers like Chief Ezekiel Onwuma said that words were not enough to express their feelings and relief from lack of water which had plagued the community over the years. He thanked Mrs. Obiano for being a compassionate woman and mother, and Governor Obiano for remembering Omasi-uno after many years of neglect. Also speaking Mrs. Lauretta Agwuedo said that the women of the community were the greatest beneficiaries because they go daily in search of water but now had every reason to thank Osodieme for coming to their rescue. In the same vein Mrs. Janet Nwajani stated that the village women are eternally grateful to the Obianos, and that Omasi-uno indigenes already regard the date water started flowing again, this time from taps inside the village as a day of redemption from thirst and illness.