“If we pollute the air water, and soil that keep us alive and well, and destroy the biodiversity that allows natural systems to function, no amount of money will save us”.-David Suzuki
Tuesday March 22 is the day set aside by the United Nations for global attention on water; its importance and need to avert water crisis.
Water is an essential commodity that humans, animals and plants cannot live without. It is a fundamental necessity for life and development and, sustainability on Planet Earth depends heavily on the health of this commodity.
This year, the focus is on underground water for sustainability. Underground water is the source of a larger proportion of water supply in on earth.
Globally, about 50 percent of drinking water comes all from groundwater and nearly all of the irrigation practices depend on ground water.
Groundwater is defined, as the water found beneath the surface of the Earth and 98 per cent of the earth’s available fresh water is groundwater.
Over the years, attitude towards the usage of ground water has been carefree and there are fears that if this is not well managed, humanity might run into water crisis before the year 2050. Already some countries and parts of the world are experiencing a shortfall in underground water sources and as climate change continues to ravage the earth, more sources of underground water are drying up, fueling crisis.
Water is the main basis for the conflict between Fulani herders and farmers in Nigeria as the former move south in search of water and pastures for their flock, in the process, destroying crops, etc.
Water is essential for good sanitation, good health, and nourishes the soil to produce food. Despite this importance, necessary attention is not paid to its usage nor the protection of underground water sources for sustainability. In Nigeria, in the last 20 years, the management of water has been so poor that private persons and organs are majorly providing water for their domestic and industrial use rather than the standard system of government supplying water from central points. This has placed a heavy strain on the underground water aquifers especially, in the Niger Delta.
In addition, the quality of water so produced is also not standard thereby, endangering the lives and safety of citizens. Most state governments’ water projects though listed religiously in the annual budgets remain in the pipeline and rarely come to reality. In the absence of this, citizens are left with little or no access to clean healthy water and the attendant health hazards. It is common to read of diseases breaking out. In Delta State, for example, last year there was an outbreak of a strange illness that claimed many lives, not unconnected to impure water. Cholera and typhoid are regular challenges in many parts of the country as well as other water related diseases.
For the Niger Delta, unfortunately, there is the other discomfort and threat of pollution of the land and water sources from oil exploration with some communities losing their fresh water sources. With the hardship imposed by this degradation, activities of local oil thieves hunting for alternative means of survival continue to threaten the safety of ground water sources with contamination that is, both unhealthy and worse than the evil from the multinational oil companies.
As the world celebrates this focus on the health of underground water and its implication for posterity, the Center for Media Environment and Development Communications, CEMEDEC is calling for better management of water in the Niger Delta by the government and an end to wastage by individuals.
It is the duty of government to provide portable water for the good health and growth of the state. It is also, the duty of government to protect communities from the ravaging effects of the activities of those, whose activities destroy our underground water sources.
Water is health and one of the key as essential provisions by government to make life safe and easier for citizens, especially women and girls as well as for the cultivation and production of food to avert hunger. Water should be a priority for all in the Niger Delta because of the peculiar issues arising from oil and gas extraction activities in the region. It is a shame that many communities in the region do not have access to clean water even though surrounded by water.
We therefore call on all state governments and local governments to ensure the availability of portable water in all nooks and crannies of this region. At the same time, CEMEDEC calls on all citizens to do everything to protect the health of our underground water as a way of ensuring the sustainability of the region and collectively, the world.