Environmental and sanitation challenges in Kureke, Nigeria

18 February 2022

Kureke is a fast-growing village near Kano City in Kano state, Nigeria. It is located to the south-east of Kano in Kumbotso Local Government Area (LGA). People living in the area are predominantly indigenous Hausa, which is also the case for most of the population of Kano state and Northern Nigeria.

Many people living in Kureke are farmers, but during the dry season, they also engage in trade in firewood and other commodities. Despite its proximity to an urban area, the lifestyle of the people is still predominantly rural.

The tough physical environment

The topography of Kureke is dominated by a Precambrian metamorphic rock and the flora is composed mainly of savanna grassland with little fauna due to human activities. The little species in the area includes birds and insects.

A natural stream separates Kureke from the Kano city. This natural stream had exposed the good soil underneath the outer shell of the basic rock landscape of the area. As a result, a lucrative business of sand excavation had emerged and continuous mining of the sand for building purposes have created large artificial lakes in the area.

Large body of water in the middle of a rural plain. In the distance you can see buildings.
A large artificial lake. Credit: Mohammed Yakubu Abdulkadir

These lakes have further created a major barrier between Kureke and Kano City. However, the lakes have also become an important source of water for the people of Kureke.

Sanitation and hygiene challenges

Faecal contamination of vital lakes

The artificial lakes in Kureke are used as dumping sites by commercial solid waste disposers and faecal dislodging workers who are engaged in the dislodging of septic tanks and latrines for residential houses and commercial places. They are not employed by the government and they do their activities as privately-owned businesses.

Faecal dislodgement at Kureke lake is illegal because the government has not declared the lakes as a formal dumping site. Although faecal dislodgement at Kureke lake is illegal, there are no measures put in place by the government to check any trespassing activities there.

Faecal dislodgement in the lakes has led to the contamination of the water which is used by people of Kureke for domestic purposes.Vector-bourne diseases have increased as a result of the faecal dumping and solid waste, which attracts flies and other insects. These flies carry infectious agents and land on open food items in Kureke which are then eaten by humans. This can lead to diarrhoea and other diseases in children such as cholera.

Also, the faecal dislodgements create a stink and foul smell which pollutes the air and travels far into Kureke village making it an unpleasant place to live. During rainy season, the waters of the lake drain into the seasonal stream that runs into nearby villages, thereby contaminating the streams. The contaminated waters of the Kureke may have effects on the aquatic lives in them and the cows and goats that drink the water.

Algal bloom is another common sight in the water body especially near the fecal dislodging sites. Also, the solid waste near the Kureke lakes ends up in the lake which is hard to remove.

Rubbish trapped in reeds in the lake.
Solid waste in the water. Credit: Mohammed Yakubu Abdulkadir

Dangerous terrain around lakes

Another physical challenge is that the artificial lakes create a major physical barrier between Kureke and Kano. The road paths that pass between two major water bodies of the lakes are narrow and dangerous especially for women and children as the cliffs are very high and any fall may result to death.

High rocky cliffs are visible behind a man's head.
The high cliffs beside the road that links Kureke with Kano. Credit: Mohammed Yakubu Abdulkadir

On the narrow road in-between the lakes is a lucrative business activity, the burning down of expired motor tires to remove the metal wires in them. The ashes of the burnt down tires are also emptied into the water lakes by rain and wind action. A lot of smoke is also produced from the burning of the tires which is usually done at night. The people who work at this tire burning site uses the waters of these contaminated lakes for bathing and other purposes while on site.

Continuous mining of sand for building activities has led to the continuous expansion of the lakes and its encroachment upon agricultural and residential lands.

How to overcome these challenges

To overcome the environmental challenges in Kureke, the following measures must be taken;

  1. Government should provide a proper dislodgement site far away from human habitations where the faecal dislodgement can be treated before final dumping.
  2. People involved in toilet dislodgement activities should be screened and registered by the government before engaging in such activities. The registration process should then involve a training on civic and health rights of people and basic environmental knowledge.
  3. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) should be involved in the sensitisation of people on the harmful effects of using contaminated waters in Kureke.
  4. NGOs and government should be involved in the construction of central boreholes and wells in Kureke because the cost of building one is too high for the average Kureke resident.
  5. Banning of commercial activities around the Kureke contaminated waters and provision of safe alternative place for such activities.
  6. Prohibition of sand mining in the lakes to reduce the risk of collapse of farmlands and human settlements into the lake.
A man points down at a square brick structure in the middle of a rural plain.
A failed attempt to construct a well as an alternative source of water by an individual. It failed because the water table is too deep and the cost of continuous digging is very high. Credit: Mohammed Yakubu Abdulkadir

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