One of the essentials of life is water. Apart from air, nothing is more important to human beings than water. We drink it, wash with it; cook with it and of course without it there would be no food to feed ourselves. Lest we forget, it also generates electricity, a crucial ingredient that drives modern economy. In fact, life revolves around water, without it, life comes to a standstill and then death starring man in the face, and that is why it is aptly called life.
Sadly, clean, safe drinking water is not only scarce; it is hard to imagine that it is something that can be taken for granted. In the developing economies for instance, finding a reliable source of safe water is often time consuming and at worse expensive. Today, about 1 billion people in the developing world don’t have access to water; yet, we take it for granted, waste it and even pay much to drink it from plastic bottles. 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 such 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.
Consequent upon this poor water supply situation, both in terms of availability and hygiene, Nigeria has a very high less than 5 year old mortality rate. Painfully, it is among the 5 countries in the world contributing to about one-third of the global less than 5 year old deaths. Others are the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, Pakistan, China and India. And about 16percent of all deaths in the country are due to diarrhoea, a water-borne disease that afflicts mostly children.
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, thus greatly compounding its growing diseases challenge and development needs, this is unacceptable,
Undoubtedly, cooperation and raising awareness about the water situation globally are vital to tackling this very 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.
However, the relevance of water to national development cannot be over-emphasised; and the more reason governments at all levels must be proactive in the fight to ensure that its citizenry get this basic necessity of life. 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.
Another most effective solution to tackle this global water challenge is to adopt the creative method of Coca-Cola, Nigeria, called the 3Rs which is Reduce, Recycle and Replenish. This is about sustainability. So, if water is important to us, then it is high time we become more serious in searching, developing and expanding its sources. Better still, let us use it more sustainably to ensure that we do not run out of it and thus endanger our survival on mother earth.