World Water Day 2019
It is the World Water Day again.
Unfortunately and sadly, the issues around water poverty is still very rife even after so many years of man knowing how critically important it is to have access to (clean) water. Water is not just a natural resources but a basic and essential survival need that should be available and accessible to everyone – wherever they may be around the world. But you find that water crisis is still very prevalent around the world especially in Nigeria and Africa.
Globally, about 2 billion people use a drinking water source that is contaminated by faeces (WHO, 2018). Ironically, Africa, blessed with a lot of heat energy to produce electricity still don’t have stable power supply. Statistics also show that Africa’s landmass is a little above 30 million square kilometers with water covering over 70% of it. Yet, 300 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa live in a water scarce environment according to the United Nations. In Nigeria, about 90% of households drink (and use) water contaminated by faeces and other impure substances (NBS, 2018). These are verifiable statistics showing a staggering water poverty. This is unacceptable.
There is nothing in this life you want to do that you won’t need water. Humans, plants and animals all depend on it for survival. People can live for days without food but they can’t survive for days without water. You can’t even discuss sanitation and hygiene without water. How about cleanliness being the next to godliness? This underlines the immeasurable importance of water to humanity.
Theoretically, we were taught in school (from childhood) that part of government’s essence and responsibilities is to provide basic social amenities for the governed – one of which is water. That teaching has remained for the classroom seeing that 70% of Nigerians still struggle to access clean water. Access to clean water is a basic right and not a privilege.
People struggle for virtually everything including water that they have in abundance as natural resources. My experience in Community Development shows that the worst hit with water poverty are those living in a remote rural communities. Many of them depend on water from the community stream or river; And sometimes, the water from these sources gets dried up or in paucity during the dry season. You wonder how these people have to grapple – yet we have a government in place.
However, since we’ve found ourselves in this sad state of constantly and consistently pressuring government to assume its full responsibilities, I want to use the occasion of the 2019 World Water Day to remind government at all levels that millions of people still wallow in water poverty. There is no justifiable and justiciable reason any community in Nigeria should still be lacking or struggling to access clean water in a 21st Century. I mean, this is the 21st Century!
The solution, though not exhaustive, to solving water crisis and water poverty is to revamp our Water Corporation systems all over the country. When I was much younger and in the 90s / early 2000s, water used to be available to us right from school to our neighborhoods and homes. But today, school children have to trek for kilometers and miles to access water – irrespective of whether it is clean or unclean. These children need water for their sanitation and hygiene. Today, the story is regrettably saddening. Development should be progressive and not retrogressive.
Revamping the water corporation means that all communities and schools are connected to the water system to supply water to our school children. One of the affected schools is Eleyele Secondary School, Ibadan (my Alma Mater) where water crisis has led to School children trooping into a neighboring institution (Federal Cooperative College) to fetch water for survival – sometimes at odd hours when they should be in the classrooms.
Furthermore, though drilling of boreholes hasn’t proven to be the best system in Nigeria – because of its maintenance and sustainability issues, it sure serves as a palliative measure to addressing water crisis in our communities and schools. Government can do more in this regard by ensuring that every school and community has a functional borehole system with maintenance effort properly fashioned out. We are “leaving no one behind in 2019” World Water
Government must not just declare a state of emergency in the water sector – for the heck of it, we need to live up to the billings of what government exist for. Every neighborhood, town, city and province must have access to clean water that is easily available – no matter where they are. If we can be connected to the grid to have electricity, why can’t everyone be connected to the grid to have access to clean water? No one should be left behind. Water is life.
Simeon Christian Chukwu
Senior Research Data Consultant DrinkWater Awareness Foundation,
Follow @Xtianrooy 08025717782
Photo Credit: United Purpose