New drilling machine boosts clean water efforts

A generous gift from an Iowa United Methodist offers the hope of clean drinking water for more Nigerians after some of the money was used to buy a borehole-drilling machine for The United Methodist Church in Nigeria.
Beverly Nolte, former partnership coordinator for the Iowa Conference and the church in Nigeria, said the man, who wished to remain anonymous, had always dreamed of providing water for Africans. With his nearly $300,000 donation, dozens more villages will have access to clean water by using the drilling rig.

About 60 million Nigerians, 30% of the population, lack access to safe drinking water, according to a report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization. The lack of clean water contributes to a high prevalence of waterborne diseases, threatens the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, and contributes to low levels of school enrollment, especially among girls.
Mallam Nuhu Gajere lives in Bajumba, one of the communities facing a huge challenge to get clean drinking water. “We have to wait for the water to gather during the daytime and fetch during the night,” said Gajere, who added the community has one well and residents must get water between midnight and 4 a.m.

The rig, which cost 26,000,000 naira (approximately $75,000 U.S.), was purchased by the Nigerian Clean Water Board and dedicated by Bishop John Wesley Yohanna on June 1 at the United Methodist Conference Center in Jalingo. The Clean Water Board is a group appointed by the bishop to deal with matters pertaining to clean water and the drilling of boreholes. 
The United Methodist Church in Nigeria purchased a borehole-drilling rig to provide clean water in rural villages. A gift from a United Methodist in Iowa provided the money to purchase the machine. Photo by the Rev. Ande Emmanuel, UM News.
The United Methodist Church in Nigeria purchased a borehole-drilling rig to provide clean water in rural villages. A gift from a United Methodist in Iowa provided the money to purchase the machine. Photo by the Rev. Ande Emmanuel, UM News.
In his 2019 address to the annual conference sessions, Yohanna noted that one of his major goals in 2020 was to provide clean drinking water to rural communities in Nigeria. 

“Lack of clean drinking water has brought different health challenges to many people in Nigeria, thereby increasing the poverty level of many households, most especially in rural areas,” he said.

Since 2007, The United Methodist Church in Nigeria has dug almost 100 boreholes in different communities in the four annual conferences with funds mostly from Iowa, said Reuben Samuel Panya, director of the church’s village wells program. 

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Iowan Linda Rowe, the village wells coordinator, administered the funds from the Iowa donor to the Clean Water Board for the drilling rig. The four Nigeria conferences each contributed a portion of the cost of the rig, allowing them to have ownership.

“The project will go a long way toward making sure people in rural areas of Nigeria have access to available clean water. The rig may be hired out to individuals, villages or other groups with the revenue coming back to the Clean Water Board,” Rowe said.

“Having their own rig and not having to wait on other providers will hopefully allow The (United Methodist Church in Nigeria) to help more people, and that has always been our goal — to provide more people with clean water.”

Ruth Sigwe, who lives in one of the villages with a new borehole, offered thanks to the church in Nigeria. “We are now assured of clean and plentiful drinking water in our rural communities. May the Lord bless our leaders,” she said.

Hillary Balasa, whose village is hoping to receive a borehole dug by the new machine, said she is happy about the development. “Clean water has been our major problem in this community, but with this rig we are hopeful of getting good drinking water.”

Emmanuel and Terah are communicators in Nigeria.

News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.

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