As you are aware, March 22nd is the United Nations ‘World Water Day’. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Valuing Water”. It is a date that is of immense importance to not just Nigerians but all humans. This is because of the climate crisis that has further exacerbated water scarcity.
It is on record that, today, 1 in 3 people in the world live without access to safe drinking water. In fact, UN has predicted deep scarcity in which up to 5.7 billion people could be living in areas where water is scarce for at least one month a year by 2050.
As we prepare to participate actively in COP26 Climate Conference in Scotland, we must not lose sight of the damage and severe effects of climate change made conspicuous in drought, water quality and food instability amongst others. These have continuously threatened the most vulnerable in the Global South. We therefore need to act and use the opportunity provided by this year’s World Water Day to highlight who is responsible for the current water crisis in our respective neighbourhoods.
Some individuals, organisations, corporations etc are responsible for nefarious activities through irresponsible mining, fracking, bad agricultural practices, bottling and privatization land grabs.
Even though Nigerians deserve uninterrupted access to safe and sufficient water resources to meet the cultural, social, economic and tourism development needs of all, the opposite has stubbornly proved to be the case, from time immemorial. Consequently, enhancing public health, food security, poverty alleviation while maintaining the integrity of freshwater ecosystems of the nation is not guaranteed.
Ø Reports have it that, in Nigeria: only 9% of the population have access to combined water, sanitation and hygiene services
Ø 60 million people (30% of the population) lack access to clean water
Ø 112 million people (56% of the population) lack decent toilets
Ø 46 million people (23% of the population) practice open defecation
Ø 167 million people (84% of the population) lack basic handwashing facilities
Ø Only 14% of schools have combined water, sanitation and hygiene services
Ø Only 7% of healthcare facilities have combined water, sanitation and hygiene services
Ø Only 14% of parks and markets have combined water, sanitation and hygiene services
Ø 3 in 10 people in Nigeria don’t have clean water close to home
Ø 3 in 5 people in Nigeria don’t have a toilet of their own
Ø 4 in 5 people in Nigeria lack handwashing facilities at home. This is dangerous in a COVID-19 era
We must note that Climate Change is a major culprit in the prevailing water and sanitation problems, prompting people, mostly women to trek for long distances to access water that its purity is questionable. And that is why all of us have a stake in this problem that is ravaging our only planet that majority of us have access to, the earth.
We must collectively take actions, embark on programmes, execute projects that will provide adequate shock absorbers in other to reverse climate change clock. This is a sure way towards fast-tracking on climate change adaptation strategies.
· The ministry of Water Resources must wake up and take its responsibility of providing water to all and sundry, seriously.
· That appropriate authorities take steps to bring about legislative interventions and executive actions
· The appropriate MDAs should take urgent and responsible steps towards changing the situation for the better
· That contamination of ground water sources by mining activities must be curtailed
· That in our own ways, we must not endanger any source of water
· We should plant more trees to shade the earth
.We need all hands on the deck to curtail sources of damage to water
Gena Reuben Lubem is:
Fellow of Institute of Information Management (FIIM)
Senior Member, Institute for Crisis Resolution, Peacebuilding and Conciliation (SICRPC)
Full Member, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (FNIIA)
Certified Registrar/Secretary in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)