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Water Refugees Seek Succour In Gazawa 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

Hamadou Irema, an octogenarian, wears a look that translates misery. He was the Village Head of Wadjabembe whose inhabitants deserted 15 years because there was no water in the area.
“We are part of the 12 families that settled here in Gazawa more than 15 years ago. Other 13 families from the same village migrated to other places,” he narrated.

The old man told reporters that they were refugees in Gazawa because nature suddenly became too cruel to them.
“We used to have water in Wadjabembe, but, later on, we would dig deep down the earth surface and we will not even find a drop.

It became so difficult, since the Mayo (River) is very far away from the village,” the man explained. He said, because of lack of water, families started leaving the village one by one. When it became so acute, the families were leaving in droves until the entire village was deserted.

The water refugees are now living in Gazawa which is 22km from the Maroua central town in the Far North Region. With a population of 30,900 inhabitants, Gazawa sprawls across 180,000 square kilometers. The coming of the inhabitants of other villages increased the already acute water problem that Gazawa had been grappling with.

It was at the backdrop of such a situation that UNICEF, in collaboration with the Japanese Government, has helped to assuage the water crisis in the area by providing boreholes.
Thanking the Government of Japan and UNICEF for providing them with boreholes, the Divisional Officer, DO for Gazawa, Abdou Djenabou, said many areas in the Subdivision were still wallowing in thirst without potable water. She said UNICEF constructed the boreholes at a time people in many villages were suffering.

“The people of Perepere used to pay FCFA 500 transport and travelled many kilometers to fetch water here in Gazawa. They now have a UNICEF borehole,” the DO told reporters in her office recently.
The civil administrator cited many areas in her Subdivision that have no access to potable water. They included: Massakal, 22km away from Gazawa; Wawala, 25km from Gazawa whose inhabitants travel 10km away to fetch water from a river.

Going by the Lamido of Gazawa, Bachirou Omarou, since the boreholes were constructed in the area, children have stopped complaining of stomach bite.
“We used to go to the nearby River Tsanaga and dig deep down the river bed in search of water that was not clean,” he remarked.

The Lamido revealed that Gaza is hosting over 30 families that have fled from areas that do not have water. The people came from many villages, including Pontoumai-Moufon that is five kilometers from Gazawa.
The Mayor of Gazawa, Adama Mama, said the five boreholes UNICEF has constructed in the area are like Manna that fell from heaven.

“This gift has ended the terrible experience, wherein, people here used to get water from contaminated sources with all the consequences. Since the boreholes were constructed, we have not had even a single case of cholera in this area,” he said.

In all the areas where UNICEF boreholes have been constructed, local management committees are formed to ensure their sustainability. Maintenance agents are also trained to repair the taps when they get bad.
When this reporter visited Gazawa recently, two local maintenance agents were at work: Amadou Ali and Ismaila Amadou were busy repairing some water taps.

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