Just before dawn, as early as 4 am, children, and women of Aku community make haste to the dust-feasted brook to scoop the surface of the water before the base is unsettled by cows. Water is life in every sense of it in Aku. It determined when children go to school and when mothers make the meal. It affected livelihood, caused diseases and one reported death of a woman due to snake bite on the way to the rocky-mud stream.
ActionAid provided the first humanitarian intervention by any aid organisation in the community. This means a lot to Jimoh Alabi, 48 who narrated how the ActionAid attuned the community to a world of possibilities. “We never knew that we could mobilise ourselves to make demands from the government, we thought government was very far away but through the sensitisation by ActionAid our eyes have opened” Alabi affirms confidently.
“When ActionAid came, we made a list of what we were lacking in the community (in teasing out right denial issues); we listed the bad water situation, light (electricity), livelihood support for women, health centre, school and support for our farmers. ActionAid decided to provide a borehole because it was the priority on the list, while using a service modelling approach. After sinking the borehole, they told us that they will build our capacity so that we can be able to advocate for other needs of the community,” he said.
Alabi tickles his fingers restlessly as he excitedly nudges to mention the outcomes of the advocacy training: “We were trained on how to mobilise ourselves and write the government. After the training, we decided to practise what we learnt, we went to the Ministry of Water Resources with some of the community people, we told them that we needed water, and we kept going back to make this same demand until they sent some people to our community to assess the need. The government sunk the new motorized borehole. So, we now have one borehole from ActionAid and another one from the government” he enthused.
The community is now empowered to engage the government, began to advocate for replacement of the community’s electricity transformer. It took 4years of relentless advocacy visits to relevant government offices for the transformer to be released. “If not for the knowledge we acquired from ActionAid, we would have given up, we won’t even bother to make any attempt” said Alabi.