Provision of Adequate Water Supply in Benin Province: Local Governments Efforts 1938-1966

  • SA Shokpeka


This work examines the performance of the local governments in the provision of adequate sources of potable water in their different areas of jurisdiction in the Benin Province. The work covers the four Native Administration areas of Benin, Esan, Afemai and Asaba Divisions, which made up the Benin Province during colonial period. The study reveals the great enthusiasm and determination exhibited by Benin and Esan Divisions in carrying out this responsibility, working in close collaboration with the Public Works Department (P.W.D.), a unit of the provincial administration based in every Division. The same commendation cannot be given to Afemai and Asaba Divisions where much of the hindrances came from inadequate funding and lack of interest on the part of the District Officers, (D.O.) in charge of the Divisions. The main strategy employed by the Native Administrations was the construction of wells and underground water tanks. Only Benin and Esan Divisions provided pipe-borne water in Benin City and Ubiaja respectively during the tenure of the Native Administrations. With the inception of elected councils in 1957, provision of social amenities, including water supply for the rural areas became politicized; only the Divisions that were aligned with the ruling Regional parties were adjudged qualified to enjoy such benefits as the provision of potable water. This trend was prevalent up to 1966. Not much work has been done on this subject by both historians and social scientists-a factor which explains the heavy dependence on archival sources for this study.

Lagos Historical Review Vol. 8 2008: pp. 49-63

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eISSN: 1596-5031