YESTERDAY, March 22, 2021, was World Water Day, a universal annual celebration created to focus attention on the importance of one of the most precious resources on earth. Water makes the earth a liveable planet.
Without it life would be impossible. Apart from water’s use for drinking, cooking, cleaning and generally sustaining the lives of all living things, water is also essential in supporting the economic, social and human development activities.
The planet earth is mostly water (71 per cent) but much of the water is salty which makes it unfit for human consumption. Either natural processes or scientific manipulation must be carried out to convert the salty water into useable form. But unfortunately, as the population of mankind expands (well beyond the seven billion mark) fresh water resources are dwindling. It is currently estimated that 2.2 billion people, about a quarter of the global population, lack access to life-supporting water.
Here in Nigeria, the situation is not looking good. Last year as the global coronavirus pandemic ravaged the country, the World Health Organisation and Action-Aid disclosed that 150 million Nigerians (about three quarters of the population) and 95 per cent of our health centres lack access to potable water to support the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, initiative.
This particularly put our frontline health workers and pandemic patients at very high risk. It was one of the reasons that concerned experts predicted that the pandemic would lead to dead bodies being picked up from our streets. Fortunately, that did not happen as Nigeria emerged among the least affected in the world.
With the early onset of vaccinations, the worst should be behind us as far as COVID-19 is concerned. We should, however, be sobered by this miraculous escape, bearing in mind that experts are prognosticating more severe imminent pandemics.
Our water situation is bleak indeed. In the 1960s, pipe-borne water was taken for granted in many urban and semi-urban cities. People who did not have water in their homes could go to the public taps. But today, public water supply is more of the exception than the norm.
Because of government’s failure to provide potable water to the people, Nigerians have no choice but to resort to perforating the earth, drilling boreholes and wells for water. This compromises the stability of the earth and puts us in great danger in case of earth tremors.
Our government must stop paying lip service to public water supply. The Federal Ministry of Water Resources has failed woefully to justify its existence and the funds annually appropriated for it. We look forward to a time when government will return to the global templates for the provision of safe water to the people in compliance with the universal Sustainable Development Goals, SDG, 2030.