Bakwato is a community in the Dutse local government area of Jigawa State. The peace loving people of the community go about their daily activities with little or nothing to worry about. However, lack of potable water remained a major challenge, as residents walk long distance on a daily basis in search of clean water.
This situation, however, created an economy for meruwa (water hawker), who usually have filled day servicing their growing clientele with water, thereby exposing indigene to waterborne diseases caused by pathogenic microorganisms that most commonly are transmitted in contaminated fresh water. Such infections commonly results during bathing, washing, drinking, in the preparation of food, or the consumption of food thus infected.
The late Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti once recorded a popular song, Water No get Enemy. And for the indigenes of Bakwato, they could really not say water was not important. So, when Mudassir Adam Bello, an indigene of the community, heard on radio about the MTN Foundation ‘What Can We Do Together’ campaign, he did not hesitate to nominate his community to be provided with this essential of life – water.
In celebration of its tenth anniversary last year, the MTN Foundation launched a new campaign tagged What Can We Do Together. The idea behind the initiative is to create a platform for the telecommunication company to help provide basic amenities to rural communities in line with its CSR.
“At first, I was not sure of the authenticity; I was in doubt if application will be granted. But, I just kept hope that something good will come up” Bello said.
One day, his phone rang and a voice announced, “your application is being processed, when we can come for inspection in your area”. The rest, as they say is history. Today, Bakwato can boost of pipe borne water as part of the What Can We Do Together project.
If that was the story of Bakwato, Okatari Minadum, the nominator of Kolo Community in Bayelsa State for another borehole project was simply ecstatic when she discovered that her community will eventually benefit from the project.
“What more can I really say than a big thank you to the MTN Foundation. We saw an announcement on-line and tried to see if it will work for us. I tried and it worked for me. There was an option to choose pipe borne water, electricity transformer, furniture for schools and renovation of Motherless Babies Homes. I chose the water borehole project because my community needed it. I never really knew it was going to work. We have few boreholes built by individuals but they sell water to us and sometime we cannot afford it. Our mothers now will no longer have to buy water for household chores anymore. The water is portable and good for drinking and the whole village is happy,” Okatari said.
The gesture by the MTN Foundation to provide water is in line with this year’s UN World Water Day themed “Better Water, Better Job”. According to the world body, water is the essential building block of life. But it is more than just essential to quench thirst or protect health; water is vital for creating jobs and supporting economic, social, and human development.
Today, half of the world’s workers – 1.5 billion people – work in water-related sectors. Moreover, nearly all jobs, regardless of the sector, depend directly on water.
MTN Furniture Warri: L – R – Government & Community Relations Officer, MTN Nigeria, Mr. Andrew Esun; Principal, Ugborikoko Secondary School, Mr. Charles Okotie; and Customer Relationship Manager MTN Nigeria, Ms. Gloria Osako during the handing over school furniture donated to the school by the MTN Foundation as part of its ‘What Can We Do Together’ initiative.
In this regard, Dr. Pascal Dozie, Chairman of the Board, MTN Nigeria noted that, “as a responsible corporate citizen, one must give. We prefer to call is social investment; for these are the people who patronize us on a daily basis and we see it as crucial to investment in their welfare”.
However, the What Can We Do Together initiative is not all about provision of water. It is also about the provision of electricity transformers for nominated communities.
Igwe Titus Okolo, while congratulating his indigenes of Amorji Nike, in Enugu State said, “this transformer will definitely bring more life to people of this community. We have struggled with regular electricity due to lack of transformers but with this one, we are happy that things will be better”.
Meanwhile, residents of Old Kuntunkun Compensation Layout in Gwagwalada Abuja were not left out of the largesse, as Sadiq Oche nominated the community for electricity transformer. For a community in the Federal Capital Territory, the provision of the transformer by MTN Foundation supports government’s effort to improve the standard of living of people in the area.
The Chairman of the residents association, Mr. Emmanuel Abbey at the commissioning said, “this is good. It is a form of social responsibility that will benefit people in our community. Before now, we have written to several quarters for assistance but with very little success. Now, with this donation by the MTN Foundation, we are greatly relieved”.
For Mrs. Stella James, a frozen foods seller in Ajobo/Omilabu Community in Ibadan Oyo State, business just got better with the 500KVA transformer installed in the community courtesy of the What Can We Do Together initiative.
“I thank the nominator, Mr. Titus Oke for nominating this community. With this new transformer, there will be constant electricity supply which will definitely boost business activities around here” James said.
The Chairman of the Ajobo/Omilabu Community, Mr. Abdul-Waheed at the commissioning informed that “about 11 areas that are under Ajobo/Omilabu Community depended on the old 200KVA transformer. Virtually everyday, there was one problem or the other. Many times, the communities were in blackout for months. As a result of these challenges, the communities resorted to load shedding, rotating electricity among the communities. No doubt, MTN Foundation is the reason for our celebration today because if the initiative was not one, our community would not have been nominated”.
Yet, concerned with grooming Nigeria’s leaders of tomorrow, part of the initiative is providing school furniture to ensure students learn under a conducive atmosphere.
Mrs. Akinyemi Patience Head Teacher, Nawarudeen Primary School, Mowe, in her comment said “the provision of chairs and desk came at a time when such facilities were highly needed by the children. These items will help to increase the number of students that the school admits as there is assurance that the children will now learn under a conducive environment”.
During the presentation of furniture at Community Nursery and Primary School, Magodo, Lagos State Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Hon. Seye Oladejo said, “we all know the impact of the Foundation across Lagos and indeed Nigeria. Looking at the joy on the faces of these children, all we can say is thank you for supporting the development efforts of the government”.
Also, the Hajiya Kaltun Dauda-Rufai, Executive Director, Niger State Science and Technical School Board, while commissioning the project at Government Technical College, Eyagi, Niger State said, “we are happy at this gesture. I know this college will be better off with this donation. We want to encourage other corporate organizations to emulate the Foundation in supporting efforts of government to make life better for Nigerians”.
Speaking at the launch of the What Can We Do Together Initiative, the Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation said, “we have asked Nigerians what could do together, they have answered and part of their request is what we are now fulfilling. We remain committed to supporting the efforts of the government in improving the lives of Nigerians and well-being of communities by partnering on selected social investment projects, which promote people’s dignity, nurture inherent abilities and help create economic value in the communities”.