Katsina water crisis: A Gordian Knot governor Radda is fixing

Water is life, so says a popular cliche. It is needed by plants and animals alike for survival. Water, with H2O as its scientific name, is one of the core agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, launched by the United Nations, UN.

Categorically, the Goal Six of the SDGs: “Clean Water and Sanitation,” is all about ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Across the world, the crisis of water shortage is very acute. 

Each year, the UN recognises the urgency of addressing the global water crisis on ‘World Water Day’, observed on March 22. In Nigeria, the federal government is still battling to provide millions of citizens with quality and hygienic water, both for domestic and industrial use. 

According to the World Bank, approximately 70 million Nigerians do not have access to safe drinking water, and 114 million do not have access to basic sanitation facilities.

Blessed with an array of natural resources across its fertile land, Katsina state, over the years, has also grappled with the challenge of providing safe and clean water for its teeming residents.

Prior to the advent of the Governor Dikko Umaru Radda administration, most parts of Katsina, including the state capital, lack pipes and taps that gush out water for domestic use, most especially. In short, one can say without a scintilla of doubt, that the water sector in Katsina was nearly moribund.

But within a spate of 10 months after assuming office, Mallam Dikko Radda, PhD, is gradually changing the ugly narrative. The goal-driven and purposeful chief executive of Katsina is taking every assiduous step, necessary to revamp the state’s water sector.

Both at home and abroad, Governor Radda is forging strategic collaborations, while also partnering with key institutions and foreign governments to holistically remedy the Katsina state water crisis. 

In Nigeria here, and some European nations, he has engaged with seasoned experts vast in the knowledge of designing efficient water systems, particularly in urban environments like Katsina.

Between the 19th and 23rd of February this year, the pragmatic and visionary Radda led a delegation of some government officials and Katsina business personalities, on investment-seeking trips to Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands.

In the three European nations, Radda, who many Katsina residents describe as their talk-and-do governor, constructively engaged with leading manufacturers of water hardware and investors.

First, Mr. Governor, while in Germany, struck a partnership with KSB, a reputable German company. Established in 1871, KSB specialises in both horizontal and vertical highlight capacity water pumps. The company’s footprints, in terms of the water projects it has executed, can be found in well over 100 countries.

Through its partnership with the German coy, the Katsina state government will be able to leverage KSB’s expertise and technology to enhance the efficiency and reliability of water supply systems in Katsina. The partnership, among other things, will also see to the installation of state-of-the-art pumping equipment and valves (across many Katsina towns) designed to optimise water distribution and minimise downtime.

In a related development, the Radda administration is also partnering with Grundfos. Grundfos is a Danish firm and one of the world’s leading manufacturers of submersible pumps of all variants, sizes, specifications and SolarFlex for pumping water, in all categories of low and high-yielding boreholes. 

Grundfos is also known for its innovative and energy-efficient solutions that can help to reduce operational costs and improve the sustainability of water supply systems across all spectrums of pumping stations.

Interestingly, the Katsina government’s partnership with the Danish company is aimed at enhancing the water supply infrastructure in the state. 

Similarly, the Katsina state government is collaborating with AVK International, another Danish firm specialised in valves and fittings. The partnership will, in the long run, ensure that the water supply network in Katsina is equipped with high-quality components that are built to last. 

Currently, AVK International, following its fruitful engagement with Governor Radda, has manufactured some high-quality valves of different sizes and specifications, which are in the process of being shipped from Aarhus Seaport in Denmark, to Tincan Port in Lagos. 

By the time the consignment arrives in Nigeria, they will be transported to Katsina and installed across the pipeline corridor cascading from the raw reservoir at Ajiwa Dam, up to the reservoir at Barhim in Katsina metropolis. 

The rehabilitation work is geared towards rejuvenating the valves on the pipeline of Ajiwa Dam that have become obsolete and unserviceable – 50 years after the water works was commissioned.

The Netherlands is the third country Governor Radda visited during his investment shuttle to Europe last month. During the trip, the governor and his entourage ‘stormed’ the Offices of the Climate Fund Managers of the ‘Orange Nation’, as part of enhancing and deepening cooperation on financing mechanisms for important Katsina water projects, such as the Zobe Phase 1b Water Supply Project.

The Zobe project, for the records, is crucial for providing portable water supply to a wide range of water users in Katsina. With its resolve to work with the Dutch Climate Fund Managers, the Katsina state government will definitely ensure that the Zobe Water project receives necessary funding and foreign support, for optimal functioning.

To this end, one can assert that the synergy will not only benefit the people of Katsina by improving their access to clean water, it will also showcase the Radda administration’s commitment to the sustainable development and environmental protection of Katsina.

Overall, the governor’s visit to The Netherlands signals only one thing: a proactive approach to addressing the water supply challenges in Katsina, aimed at setting a positive example for other states in Nigeria to emulate.

Lest I forget, Governor Radda, in October last year, also held a productive meeting with the renowned consortium, Infrastructure Corporation (InfraCorp), to discuss the Zobe Water Scheme – which has the potential to provide clean drinking water to more than 10 million water users.

This is just as Katsina, few months after Governor Radda became its helmsman, was named in 2023 among the states in Nigeria to be part of the Sustainable Urban and Rural Supply Sanitation and Hygiene, SURWASH, project. In executing the World Bank project, Governor Radda has so far awarded contracts for both the soft and hardware component of the WASH Projects across 10 Katsina Local Government Areas. 

Some of the projects awarded and executed are the provision of pipeline network and reticulation at Tudun Matawalle, Kofar Yandaka, Kofar Guga Tayoyi, Ambassador Quarters and Batagarawa (Both Low cost Housing Estate and Batagarawa Town) for urban settlement. The provision of WASH facilities (ranging from hand-pump boreholes including motorised facilities with the support of either solar or conventional power supply systems) to Fatima Shema, Sardauna Housing Estate, Tudun- Iiya and Baure towns, however are under the small town settlement.

Again, one thing is certain – the Katsina state government’s commitment to providing reliable and sustainable water supply services to its residents, is unflinching. Thus, the Radda administration is working closely with the aforementioned European companies and the Dutch Climate Change Managers, to achieve its water resources development goals for Katsina.

Indeed, the partnerships with AVK International, Grundfos and KSB, together with its collaboration with industry experts are nothing, but a resounding testament to Governor Radda’s proactive approach to the infrastructural development of Katsina state. 

Very soon, not only the lingering water sector crisis, but other developmental challenges in Katsina state will become history. That is by the time Governor Dikko Umaru Radda, the architect of “Our New Katsina”, beautifully completes the fixing of their Gordian Knots.

Ibrahim Kaula Mohammed is the Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to Governor Dikko Radda of Katsina State