Meet the people saving Plateau’s Nghar village from water related deaths

4 min read
Dr. Chisom Ezeocha (left) and Dr. Bayo Balogun

Worldwide, 844 million people lack even a basic source of drinking water, says United Nations Children’s Fund,  UNICEF. More than 1,300 children under the age of five die every day, based on UNICEF statistics, because of diseases caused by unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and hygiene. 

Generally, waterborne diseases, according to WHO account for an estimated 3.6% of the total DALY (disability- adjusted life year) global burden of disease, and cause about 1.5 million human deaths annually.

Coronavirus, the world’s most dreaded disease killed about 345,000 people in five months, an estimated 65,000 every month. This figure is about 55.2% less than total number of deaths caused by waterborne diseases. By 1.5million deaths annually, waterborne diseases kill an estimated 125,000 people every month.

Boy dies from water-related disease in Plateau State

On May 2nd, 2020, a 17year-old boy in Plateau State’s Nghar village of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Dazat Irmiya Magit died from chronic typhoid, another water and hygiene related disease. Same day, two of his siblings collapsed and were later diagnosed of the same disease. Many other children in the village have fallen ill with diarrhea, cholera and other related problems for lack of safe drinking water.

Nghar village, located 30miles southwest of Jos, the capital of Plateau State, has for months shared drinking water source with animals – a wide shallow stream located over a mile from the village. To avoid germs, the villagers dig a crater in the the soft sand beside the flowing water. When water settles in it, they scoop it into their containers and take home for drinking and other household use.

Mrs. Sarah Joshua scoops water from a crater in Nghar village for family use

MK Reporters shot a documentary on this problem on April 28, 2020 and on May 4, 2020, a call came from someone who gave his name as Bro Bayo Balogun from Port Harcourt in Rivers State, approximately 800km (14hrs drive by road) from Jos. “My family and I would like to help,” he said. Bayo’s call was a followup to a WhatsApp message he sent 24hrs earlier but was not replied.

After getting details and quotations for hand pump borehole, Bayo and his wife Mercy, together with his friend, Chisom Ezeocha and his wife Kebuo Gbagi objected to a hand pump borehole and offered to bear the cost of a motorized borehole from the geophysical survey to the reticulation. Despite widespread economic stress caused by Coronavirus, these two families followed up every minute with sufficient funds and completed the project within 3 weeks. The final phase of the installation was completed on May 23, 2020.

Motorized borehole donated by Dr. & Mrs. Bayo Balogun and Dr. & Mrs. Chisom Ezeocha

Meet the donors

Bayo Balogun hails from Ikare-Akoko in Ondo State, Southwest Nigeria. He attended Owo Highschool in Ondo State, later Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State, and University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He had his Masters Degree in Robert Gordon Aberdeen United Kingdom, and Doctorate in Atlantic University, U.S.A. All his life, Bayo has been a private sector employee, with no links to politics, aside from the politics of heaven – winning souls for Jesus Christ.

Dr. Bayo and Mrs. Nercy Balogun

Who then is Chisom Ezeocha? Chisom hails from Abazu Ogwa , Mbaitoli LGA, Imo State, in Southeast Nigeria. He attended Umweze Okwa Secondary school, and graduated from Federal University of Technology Oweri, Imo State. He had a Master of Business Admin from Instituto de Empress (IE), in Madrid Spain, later Master of Petroleum Technology from Curtin University, Perth Australia and a Ph.D from Walden University, USA. Just like his friend and colleague Bayo, Chisom has been a private sector employee with no links to politics aside from the politics of heaven.

Dr. Chisom and Mrs. Kebuo Ezeocha and kids

Why help Plateau?

When the video documentary on the water challenge of the attacked people of Nghar village was published, thousands including far richer people and highly placed politicians from Plateau State saw it and even participated in social media debates on it. However, not even one moved to help, despite depending on poor communities like Nghar village to stay in business.

Politically, Bayo and Chisom hail from Southwest and Southeast geopolitical regions historically rivalled to Nigeria’s North. Based on Nigeria’s political tradition, the next President of the country after Buhari who hails from North, should be from Southwest. Buhari’s predecessor was from the Southsouth and is mostly linked with the Southeast but the region equally stands qualified to produce the next President. However, from body language and political statements from influential personalities, the North is working assiduously to keep the two Southern regions under it, and maintain power for another four to eight years after Buhari exits in 2023.

But why would these two help a community located in a region they should have no regards for? The North Central region where Plateau is, is predominantly Christian but neither Bayo nor Chisom has been to the State. What then influenced their decisions? “We are doing this for God,” is all they keep saying. That seems explanatory, but are they the only servants of God that heard the call for help? Many did, but only they answered. What manner of love, a clear demonstration of the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Christian Holy Book, the Bible Luke (10:25- 37).

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