Maya Angelon once said, ’’You will face many defeats in your life, but never let yourself be defeated’’.
The world will be celebrating Water Day on Monday, the 22nd of March this year. How well this precious free gift from God has gone freely to our people? Water is precious, very valuable, and indispensable. No wonder one of the lyrics of the late Afro Beat singer and legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti says ‘Water no get Enemy’’ meaning, water has no enemy. This is a universal truism. In fact, if the water is not as important, the world organizations such as UNO and UNICEF would not have reasoned to devote a day in a year to commemorate this precious gift of God.
OPINIONS OF SCIENTISTS ABOUT WATER
Let’s take a look at what scientists say about the importance of water to human beings. Scientists say ‘’our digestive system relies on water. Our bowels need water to function well. Lack of water in our body can cause dryness or dehydration and dehydration can cause digestive problems, and constipation which can in turn cause stomach ulcers’’
In the same vein, water flushes our body waste and we use water in the process of sweating and removal of urine and feces.
‘’ Water regulates the body temperature and cools down the body. To a Sportsman, water is required at end of a duel or match on the pitch. We use water to do virtually all things, at the home, factory, in church or mosque, on a farm, in school, and in many other places. Drinking water keeps the mouth clean and forms saliva and mucous. Saliva helps us digest our food and keeps the mouth, nose, and eyes moist to prevent friction and damage to our organs. According to a scientist, ‘about 60% of the human body is made up of water and about 71% of the planet earth is covered by water’’
UNICEF CONCEPTION ABOUT WATER AND SANITATION
In the analysis of UNICEF,’’ access to water, sanitation and good hygiene are people’s human rights’’ ‘’Goal 6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals(SDG’s) is focused on ensuring inclusive and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for all.’’
Going by what UNICEF says, ’’That water is our human rights’’. In Nigeria millions of people are without access to clean and drinkable water and sanitation in 2020’’; now this is 2021, the same albatross is still hanging on the neck of the government on daily basis. This is not good enough both at the local, state, and federal levels. Drastic measures are needed to alleviate the sufferings the citizenry are facing about water supply.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping(WASH Norm)2018, in their research, submits that about 55million Nigerians still do not have access to clean water supply services, 110million Nigerians lack decent toilets, and over 47 million practice open defecation.’’
For both the rural, town, and city dwellers especially children who are mostly used to scout for water at the nearby brooks in their environments, access to clean water will restore their health and make them concentrate in class to face their studies instead of queuing at the stream to get water for the households and thereafter become exhausted getting to the school.
In rural Zambia, the WASH-UP group teaches good hygiene. The group trains educators and community leaders to use play-based learning materials to teach children about good hygiene practices. This has helped to minimize water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, and other allied sicknesses. With this training, children would understand the simple hygiene of handwashing with soap and water and how to use the restroom.
In Nigeria, the old DFRI Bore-holes are out of order mostly everywhere they are situated; people struggle to provide water for their household consumptions, and those using water for their daily living pay through the nose to do this and are taxed by the government doing this. The corresponding effect is borne by the consumers who buy sachet or bottled water. It has been alleged that some of these factories producing cellophane water are not adequately monitored by the health workers to know the source of their water for production yet, people consume the water they find available because they are thirsty. The government, both the federal or state must take a serious look at this issue of water in order to stem the constant health challenge of typhoid, diarrhea, dysentery, and many other water-borne diseases.
LOSES TO ECONOMY THROUGH INADEQUATE WATER SUPPLY
Research by UNICEF indicates ‘’poor water supply and sanitation costs the Nigerian Economy about 1.3% of Gross Domestic Product(GDP) annually which is about NGN1.9 trillion’’. There are losses in productivity owing to water and sanitation services, loss of human capacity in malnutrition, kwashiorkor, and mortality.
The Nigerian government needs to be decisive and apply a drastic approach and not frivolity to increase budgetary allocation for water and sanitation and be sure that allocated funds are judiciously used.
The slogan on the lips of the government’s mouth- organs in the past was, ’’water for all in the year 2020…’’ Now, that terminal date could not be met, and we are now in 2021, people still lack good water supply. Only the rich and politicians could boast of good drinkable water! When you build a house nowadays, if you are capable financially, you must drill the ground for water for you and your family at exploitative costs. Gone are the days when public taps are running for use! The less privileged now go to the streams and stagnant brooks to fetch water and the unlucky ones from the source of the water supply contract guinea worm, cholera, and other allied diseases because the brook is where they also use as their latrines. Some also contract river blindness owing to non-treatment of the source of their water supply especially in the Northern part of the country.
For Nigeria to meet Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SGD6), there must be an uncompromising stand to improve water supply at the grassroots. There is no investment made on the welfare of people that is too much. Health is wealth and a sound mind lives in a healthy body. ‘2023’ is the supposed another target for providing water for all; 2023 is very much around the corner.
Nigeria should not be defeated in its race to provide drinkable and hygienic water for its citizens by 2023. All that the government and its operators need to do is to be focused, pro-active, and refuse to divert the budget for good drinkable water to political campaigns since the envisaged target to meet this, coincides with another round of elections in 2023.
Water is sine –qua –non to human existence and it’s everybody’s human rights. Give us water to drink, Nigerians are thirsty; water is life.
Our expectation is that all the promises on the water for all by 2023 will not be rhetoric or a paper tiger but a determined Will, to take sporadic action this time around. We hope the governments will not be defeated in their quest.
Happy International Water Day.