The gift of water

Jubril clutches a sheet of paper in his hands as he sits down for our interview. It’s easy to see it is much more than just a piece of paper.

Orange Christmas bauble with a hand holding a heart

Jubril is proudly holding his training certificate from the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) water, sanitation and hygiene team in Monguno, Nigeria. It states that he is trained to maintain his community’s newly rehabilitated borehole. For Jubril and his community, the certificate signifies the gift of water.

Read caption Jubril holds his training certificate recognising he is trained to maintain the borehole. Photo: Samuel Jegede/NRC


Coming to Monguno 

Five years ago, Jubril fled violence in his home village and made his way with his family to a displacement camp in Monguno, a town in the north-east of Nigeria. 

North-east Nigeria has been the epicentre of an intense 12-year conflict that has displaced two million people within the country, and has spread into neighbouring Cameroon, Niger and Chad.  

Read caption Jubril and his family. Photo: Samuel Jegede/NRC

Water is everything

At the displacement camp, clean water is a precious resource.  

“Water is everything to our lives here,” says Jubril.   

At the entrance of the camp, dozens of young children gather around the camp’s borehole to fetch water in large buckets and bright yellow jerrycans. They carry this water back to their families who depend on it to cook, bathe and wash their clothes. 

Water is everything to our lives here.
Read caption Children fetch water from the borehole at Monguno camp. Photo: Samuel Jegede/NRC

But that changed in February 2021 when the borehole broke down. The next closest water source was several kilometres away, and Jubril was reluctant to send his children on this journey. Children sent to fetch water outside of the camp were often beaten by adults who would confiscate their buckets and send them home empty-handed. The threat of attacks from armed groups was also worrying. In 2019, an attack near a water source left one person dead.

But Jubril and his neighbours had little choice. It was possible to buy water in Monguno town, but that meant spending money that they couldn’t spare.


Restoring access to water

In July 2021, we repaired and rehabilitated the borehole in Jubril’s displacement camp. The project helped repair the borehole’s broken solar panels and submersible pump. The impact was immediate for the community, as residents are now reconnected with easy access to clean water.

Read caption Jubril discusses the importance of the newly rehabilitated borehole with NRC staff. Photo: Samuel Jegede/NRC
With the rehabilitation of this borehole, we can fetch water at any time, during the day and during the night, without fear.

NRC worked with the community’s water management committee to train volunteers on how to maintain the borehole. As a member of this committee, Jubril took part in the training and learned about basic operations, water sanitation, and water maintenance and treatment.

“With the rehabilitation of this borehole, we can fetch water at any time, during the day and during the night, without fear,” says Jubril.  

Jubril also volunteered to organise the security of the borehole, to ensure that no-one would vandalise it. 

“My children and I no longer spend time searching for water," he says.

The gift of water

Today, Jubril stands beside the borehole with pride as he watches his neighbours collect water for their daily needs. 


We no longer have to purchase water or go to the other water source. Our children are no longer beaten. We can cook, drink and wash our clothes. We have sufficient water now.
Read caption Jubril is delighted that his community has access to water again thanks to the rehabilitated borehole. Photo: Samuel Jegede/NRC

Jubril sees his service as a contribution to his community. By providing his time and new knowledge to keeping the borehole functional, he is giving his neighbours one of the most valuable gifts he can offer: water.    

Read more about our work in Nigeria