Taking a ride from Jos, the capital of Plateau State to Jebbu Bassa is just a fifteen minute drive and from Jebbu Bassa to Zagun and Binchi communities of Bassa Local government is twenty minutes.
What is interesting here is that Jebbu Bassa doubles as the host community for the 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army and headquarters of Bassa Local Government Area. Comparing Jebbu Bassa and Binchi communities which are just 10 km apart and you will see a vast difference. For example, Jebbu Bassa is connected to the electricity grid and they enjoy a reasonable amount of electricity while Binchi community, though connected to electricity grid rarely have electricity.
More so, Jebbu Bassa has a well connected road network from Jos but from Jebbu Bassa to Binchi, the dream for a tarred road is still a long way from realization for many generations as expressed bitterly by the locals. For me, this is the least of the problems confronting this isolated community. What really got me dumbfounded and stunned is the untold daily suffering of the farmers and women caused by lack of irrigation water in their surroundings.
In this century, I discovered that the Binchi farmers have to travel long distances to fetch and carry water gallons on their heads at night on a regular basis. The most bizarre part of this story is that these farmers have to leave home after supper to go to dry streams and dig deep to access water which they use to irrigate their farms. It is so difficult to comprehend this situation if one is not on the field to witness it. Farming is the only occupation and means of survival for the people of these communities and they have successfully passed this profession from generations past to the present one.
I heard stories of how farmers plant around February with the hope that the raining season will help to irrigate their farms but only to end up disappointed and suffer investment losses due to irregular rainfall that has been the order for some years now globally. This can be linked directly to the negative impact of climate change which the Binchi farmers do not even know exists due to illiteracy and lack of information on how to cope. And when you talk about inputs, the sorrows of these farmers is just unimaginable! Access to important quality inputs like fertilizer, pesticides, seeds etc. is virtually difficult. In the words of Reverend Seth Amadik, a passionate native of Binchi community who took us to this place, ¨I was born here but presently working for the church in Jos. My people have continued to languish in these hardships since before I was born almost 6 decades ago and yet no changes till this day¨ he said with a sour expression on his face.
Another touching aspect of this story is the domestic energy challenge facing the communities. Although this is a problem for Nigeria as whole. Women regularly criss-cross the length and breadth of surrounding bushes, mountains by foot, sometimes as far as 5 to 7 kilometres just to fetch firewood for cooking warm food. Valuable and productive time is being wasted on sourcing firewood, water just for basic chores with non available for any money earning activities. Their health suffer from long time accumulation and effect of staying in smoky conditions while cooking.
The tale of these communities is thought provoking and needs urgent redress with a solution like GoSol solar technology. GoSol brings instant solution to the vicious energy poverty that has bedevilled communities like Binchi for decades and handicapped their progress towards better livelihood. Nigeria generates around 6,000MW of electricity presently leaving a shortfall of about 194,000MW needed for sufficiency. Fossil fuels like kerosine, cooking gas and epileptic electricity remains scarce and expensive to use putting deforestation pressure on our already destroyed environment. The alternative is clean energy that is save, cheap, mobile, environmental friendly and efficient. GoSol solar technology combines all these attributes and also empower entrepreneurs, farmers to independently secure the energy they need for their activities.
Finally I wrote this story not just for writing sake, but to invoke a conscious awakening in the way we see our neighbors. My wish is that we have it somewhere in our heart to do something about this situation which I know is common all over Nigeria.
SF Green Resources Nig. Ltd.