Uncategorized 40 Years of Darkness: Residents of Olorunda Community Laments Neglect

November 13, 2017by Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa0

Mini-town hall with the people of Olorunda. Community leaders and representatives bare their minds on issues affecting their welfare. AMPLIFY/Awede Taiwo

As part of efforts to spotlight underreported issues bordering on the development of underserved communities in Nigeria, Amplify has taken its community needs assessment to Olorunda community in Oyo State. The community which is located in Oyo West local government is an agrarian settlement, with huge economic potentials yet with stark developmental challenges.

Amplify’s team had a mini-town hall meeting with the community members to get a first-hand insight into the problems that the residents face daily. The conversation highlights dire infrastructural issues including lack of power supply, bad access roads, limited access to health care, broken water installations, among others.

Amplify’s team engaged the community members about their critical needs and encouraged them to constantly make demands on their elected representatives. AMPLIFY/Awede Taiwo

“The government is cheating us a lot,” a concerned resident remarked sadly.

For a first timer in the community, the presence of concrete electric poles fitted with cables and even a transformer will suggest the village has access to power supply. But a closer observation will reveal that these electrical installations are mere props. The community has not been connected to the grid four decades after they were supplied with power cables and a transformer.

The power transformer has been in the community for about 40 years. Overgrown with weeds and rotting away it has not generated power for Olorunda community. AMPLIFY/Awede Taiwo

“It’s been about 40 years that transformer and electric poles were brought to the community. Since then, we have not had light,” says the Baale, the community head. “There are many things that we need. But power supply is primary to us. It is the most important to us” a community elder, Salisu Raimi laments. “We also want to use a refrigerator and take cold water,” Muideen Tijani comments.

Olorunda community has a large expanse of arable lands being used for the planting of cassava, which provides raw materials for Garri production. Daily, hundreds of trucks leave the community to the main town conveying agricultural produce. But these essential trips to and from the community are fraught with challenges as the roads are in a bad and deplorable shape. The constant efforts of the community and their neighbours have kept the road in its current shape slightly motorable for users.

A van carrying tubers of cassava heads towards Oyo town. AMPLIFY/Awede Taiwo

“We constructed the road that led to this place,” Yekini Raji, a leader in the community started. “We were given graders but we were responsible for the fuelling. We also catered to the welfare of the drivers, which costs 50,000 daily and we were there for 3 days”.

Access to potable water is a major challenge to residents of Olorunda community. Though there are four solar-powered water points and boreholes in the community, only one of them produces water for over 500 residents in the community.

Built-in 1987 under a project funded by UNICEF and Federal Ministry of Health, this borehole is one of the three non-functional water sources in Olorunda community. AMPLIFY/Awede Taiwo

A visit to the primary health centre reveals some uninspiring conditions. Though recently-built and still wearing a relatively decent look, it is under-equipped and lacked medical personnel. According to some of the residents, there is only one healthcare officer in charge who does not reside in the village.

“If someone needs health care and the health officer is not on duty, we will call him on phone to come and attend to the patient.” With this kind of arrangement, an emergency situation has limited chances of being attended to.

As the community continues to grapple with the problems of lack of access to electricity, water, bad roads and a dysfunctional health care, it is important to point out that Olorunda has no school; the modern Garri processing factory built under the government of General Babangida and equipped with facilities has been abandoned as a result of poor maintenance.

“Our engagement with the community opened our eyes to lingering issues that have been a burden to the people of Olorunda for decades. We educated the people on the need to constantly engage with their elected representatives. While we continue to use online platforms to amplify the voices of the people and give the community visibility, our goal is to ensure that the people get sustainable intervention,” Dotun Olutoke, the Lead Partner of Amplify explains.

No community should be without a voice. No set of people should be forgotten.          

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