APART FROM air, nothing is more important to human
beings than water and of course without it there would
be no food to feed ourselves, aside from being used
to generate electricity, a central component that drives
modern day economy. In fact, life revolves around water,
and that is why it is aptly called life.
But sadly, finding a clean, safe drinking water is more or
less a luxury. In the developing economies for example,
finding a reliable source of safe water is not only time
consuming, but also expensive. Today, about 1 billion
people in the developing world don’t have access to
potable water. Though, water remains the foundation of
life, but around the world, many people still spend their
entire day searching for water. In places like sub-Saharan
Africa, valuable man-hour is wasted either in the search
for or gathering water.
It is therefore heart-breaking to note that as important as
water is to life, this commodity is not only getting scarcier
in a great swathe of the globe, it is also for many, becoming
unhygienic, thus adding to the growing health problems
users are routinely confronted with. Nigeria and Africa in
particular are badly hit in this regard. Of the continent’s
almost 783million people, about 300million of them have
no access to safe drinking water. While, in Nigeria, of the
170million people, about 66million, placing the country as
third and fourth of countries around the world with large
population without access to improved water sources and
sanitation respectively.
It is against this backdrop that we embrace the news that
Nigeria is among 16 countries to benefit from a ground
breaking research on Emerging Pollutants in Wastewater
Reuse. The project is collaboration between the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
(UNESCO) and the Swedish International Development
Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
The project titled: “Characterisation of pharmaceutical
pollution in the aquatic environment of Nigeria and their
potential ecotoxicological effects”, is being implemented
by Lagos State University and involves a scientific study
into pollution of the Lagos Lagoon. The project began in
July 2015 and it is expected to end in the first quarter of 2016.
According to a research advisor at SIDA, Claire Lynga,
the project is estimated to cost about $47 million over four
years and that the issue of wastewater reuse is becoming
a popular phenomenon globally and becomes a necessity
that major research are carried out on the problems of
No doubt, the ground breaking project according to
the Programme Specialist, International Hydrological
Programme of the organisation, Sarantuyaa Zandaryaa
is aimed at supporting UNESCO member states to
strengthen their scientific research and technical capacities
to manage human health and environmental risks caused
by new and emerging pollutants in developing countries.
For instance,the Lagos Lagoon was identified as a major
source of livelihood for thousands of fishermen and
pollution of the lagoon would have a negative impact on
thousands of people who depended on it.
Beside these facts, painfully, Nigeria is among the 5
countries in the world contributing to about one-third of
the global less than 5 year old deaths. About 16percent
of all deaths in the country are due to diarrhoea, a waterborne
disease that afflicts mostly children. Others are the
Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, Pakistan, China
and India.
Worldwide, the disease kills about 1.8million people,
1.6million of them children. Other water-borne diseases
creating havoc for the population around the globe include
cholera, guinea worm, river blindness, shistosomiasis
or bilharzias and typhoid fever, which affects about
12million people every year. On the whole, about half of
the continent’s population suffer from at least one of these
diseases each year, which greatly compound its growing
diseases challenge and development needs, and this is
Without doubt, through cooperation and raising
awareness about the water situation globally remain
fundamental to tackling these important human needs,
especially, as according to Water for Africa, an organisation
that is involved in providing long term support for water
projects in Africa, says up to 60percent of water sources on
the continent are falling into disrepair.
Indeed, at no time is the need for global cooperation and
sustainable use of water more urgent than now. What with
the rise in global population, especially in the developing
countries, dwindling sources aided by advancing deserts
and other climate changes. Today, the world requires
more and more water to meet a growing plethora of needs.
Unfortunately, it is getting scarcier and more unsuitable
for most people.
Therefore, solving this long-standing water challenge,
will no doubt need a political will of government, because
water is critical to people and the environment. That
political will means ramping up funding to the sector far
beyond current levels.
So, as we join the rest of the civilized world to celebrate
the World water day, let us use water more sustainably
in order to ensure that we do not run out of it and
endanger our survival on earth. As such, while water
is that important to us, then it is high time we become
more serious in searching, developing and expanding its

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