Lugard Ola-Raheem & Mariam Adeleke
Better management of water resources and improve in water supply is vital for the economic growth of any country and are also tools for poverty reduction – Expert
Those who heard that Olatunji was hospitalized the same night they prayed together at the mosque were surprised. His wife narrated that he healthily returned home and thereafter confusingly couldn’t stand on his feet minutes after shouting “my right side stomach”. The condition persisted for five days in a private hospital in Abeokuta before he got transferred to Federal Medical Center, Abeokuta. He was eventually diagnosed with kidney stones after series of tests were conducted both in the hospital and at Ibadan.
The patient was bedridden for weeks taking injections for intermittent pains. “The 2016 experience was frightening. I was psychologically depressed while on bed taking scores of ugly activities in the hospital. On discharge, I was told by my doctors to always take at least 5 litres of water on a daily basis to prevent reoccurrence of the ugly experience.” Olatunji said.
Many Nigerians have had to share similar experience signaling the impact of water to humanity. Today, billions of people are still living without safe water. Marginalized groups – women, children, settlers, disabled people and many others especially residents of the rural communities are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination as they try to access and manage the safe water they need.
The United Nations has put that 2.1 billion people live without safe water at home. And one in four primary schools have no drinking water service, with pupils using unprotected sources or going thirsty. According to the reports, more than 700 children under five years of age die every day from diarrhoea which is often linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation. Globally, 80% of the people who have to use unsafe and unprotected water sources live in rural areas.
On this day March 22 set aside by the United Nations as World Water Day, Umpire Times cannot but underscore the significance and challenges being faced by Nigerians to have access to clean and affordable water.
A report released by the World Bank on Monday, August 28, 2017, said Nigeria provided clean water to fewer than 10 per cent of its city dwellers in 2015, down from 29 per cent in 25 years earlier i.e. 1990.
As the country is being faced with rapid population growth, the country is projected to reach 206 million by 2020 at the current 2.57 per cent if left unchecked. And by 2050, Nigeria would only be behind India and China, and its population would have outstripped that of the United States, which is currently the third most populous country with 326 million.
City dwellers as well as those at the rural areas are always on a desperate search for potable water to meet their domestic and other needs and are at the mercy of water vendors who sometimes have their supplies from unsafe sources and poorly package the same for sale.
From its being the source of life to its being the washer of life’s remnants. Water is the major source and support to life, living and livelihood. Humans and animals rely on water, so do plants. Water is an element of possibility of tasks and the fuel needed to keep existence on the move.
Right from our immediate environment; our homes, to our communities, our states and then, the federation at large, it is no news that water has been a major hurdle and tussle at various levels and in several ways. Water itself, regardless of its source is defined as something pure, devoid of colour, taste and smell. It has to be as clean and plain as that. Also, there is need for its circulation for consumption and use and its maintenance is a very key note to be taken and put into action.
Water has lost its purity across communities in Nigeria over the years. The so-called sachet pure water is not pure anymore, safe for a few. Not even the scarcely accessible and hardly affordable government water. If water isn’t water without its three properties, what can be said of a water tasting of rusted metal or the one that smell of debris? A lot of people drink and use these kinds of water daily simply because they have no choice as good water is unavailable. Water is a must have while good water is hard to come by in Nigeria as much as it is expensive to buy. No wonder there are lots of cases of diseases like typhoid, kidney stones, etc caused by irregular intake and bad water.
A Public Health Physician and the General Secretary Ogun State Chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Ahmed Jimoh elaborately stressed the importance of water to human endeavour. According to him, “Access to safe and readily available water is of great public health importance. Better management of water resources and improve in water supply is vital for the economic growth of any country and are also tools for poverty reduction. Water constitute majority of the body weight. Function includes flushing out waste from the body through perspiration, urination and defecation, regulating body temperature, a main component of saliva which is essential for oral health and food digestion, water aids in nutrient absorption, improves oxygen circulation in blood and several other domestic use for sanitation and the likes.”
“Lack of enough water in the body may lead to dehydration which can be fatal in children and older adults. It could arise when people don’t drink enough due to sickness or lack of access to safe drinking water (drought, war, travelling ), dehydration could also result from diarrhoea and vomiting, fever, excessive sweating and increased urination.”
The health expert have affirmed the fact that unsafe water has a lot of health implications. Poor water supply is a major route for transmission of typhoid fever, cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, and other water-borne diseases. Dr Jimoh stressed further that “dehydration are low blood volume shock or what we call hypovolemic shock, urinary and kidney problems, heat stroke and the likes. Water contamination and pollution are linked to transmission of various diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. About 842000 people are estimated to die annually from diarrhoea as a result of contaminated water drinking, sanitation and hand hygiene. Water pollution comes from people defecating in stagnant water, dumping refuse in rivers, lake, sea etc, chemicals used by farmers to help crops grow and kill insect, where rain wash these chemicals into lakes and rivers, factories that dump poisonous chemicals into rivers and lakes and inappropriate sewage disposal.”
Solution is not just a task meant for the government but a collective responsibility. Clearing our drainages and allow water pass through the right channel. Individuals, organizations, institutions, industries should intensify efforts at providing water as part of their social responsibility.
Responsibility of water supply in Nigeria shared among the three levels of government. The Federal Government is in charge of water resources management; state governments have the primary responsibility for urban water supply and local governments together with the communities are responsible for rural water supply.
Government at all levels need to urgently provide funds for the provision of improved water supplies of better quality and greater convenience to the citizenry.
“The easiest and cheapest prevention of diarrhoea disease is hand hygiene. The government needs to ensure that all citizens have access to safe drinking water, advocacy on safe use of wastewater, safe drinking, safe recreational water environment, household water treatment, sanitation and hand hygiene.” said Dr Jimoh