Water Scarcity: The Stories You Don’t Hear
June 3, 2024

By Keren-happuch Garba, 2024 Future Blue Youth Council member

Now that it is the rainy season in Nigeria, the rains are infrequent and scanty in some regions and water is scarce in people’s homes. For many communities, water scarcity sounds like an echo. It has a repetitive voice that constantly impacts these communities seasonally. Take, for example, Wusasa, my community. We experience water scarcity seasonally during the dry season, which lasts from November and ends during the rainy season in March. However, with the changing climate, this period of water scarcity is metamorphosing into a dry spell due to low rainfall and warmer weather conditions. Many residents, especially young children, are found carrying empty gallons looking for water in temperatures of over 35℃. The local water vendors, called mai ruwa (a Hausa term for “someone with water”), are typically young boys pushing carts filled with water kegs, going from house to house or just passing by in the streets until someone alerts them for their service. Most households have resorted to water-buying when the wells in their homes are dried up and there is no water to use. I had a conversation with a Wusasa resident last year about the water scarcity and he said, “The dry season this year is different. The well in my house does not usually dry up but this year I had to leave my house to my neighbor’s house to get water.”

A young black girl holds an old can with an iris flower in it. Behinds her is cracked, dried earth. The girl looks sad.

“The Last Blossom” by Chloe Lou, 2021

For farmers, only the earth truly understands their worries. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an increased demand for water supply due to climate change has caused a significant negative impact on food yield. In this article, 80% of a group of Nigerian farmers who practised rain-fed rice farming experienced reduced food yield, and 20% attributed crop failures to water scarcity. Growing up in a family that farmed, we began planting weeks before the rainy season so that the seeds’ germination would coincide with the rainy season when it peaked, which led to better harvests. However, due to anthropogenic activities such as fossil fuel burning, deforestation, and land use, many farmers have little rain to look forward to, which has shrivelled food yield.

As the dry season prolongs, the hot climate beats animals’ feathers and furs, leading them to water deprivation. Sometimes, I find curious birds like bulbuls and firefinches drawing near to their human neighbors seeking a sip or two from a pool of water or a leaky tap outside. More often than not, I worry about these birds, and that is why I keep water bowls and drinkers locally made from plastic bottles outside to help their thirst.

Feet standing on a shower drain with water flowing and meandering down to the bottom of the piece. As the water moves from top to bottom, it becomes muddier and more scarce until at last there is only one drop dripping into multiple outstretched hands.

“Water’s Hierarchy” by Rachel Koo, 2021

In conclusion, communities impacted by water scarcity need your contribution to help mitigate it. One way is to fund projects such as borehole and reservoir construction and dam maintenance. Bow Seat did this by sponsoring the construction of a borehole in Wusasa, Nigeria. The borehole helped mitigate the impacts of climate-induced water scarcity in the Wusasa Community by providing a portable and universal water supply for the public. Another way is to let someone else know about climate-induced water scarcity. Whether it is telling a friend or sharing it through social media, your climate awareness counts. Finally, you can keep a water bowl outside for thirsty birds and other animals.

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Water Scarcity: The Stories You Don’t Hear

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