By IFEANYICHUKWU NWANNAH
Air, water and food, strictly in that order are the basic essentials of life, according to scientific analysis which was proved practically that many human beings can live for over sixty days without food but can rarely survive for more than three days without water.
But they will all die within few minutes if depriver of air to breath, more over another prove indicated that about 70 percent of human body, by weights consist of water and many of the body function depends essentially on it. Thus regular intake of this precious gift of nature is essential to our survival. However, we don’t need any kind; it has to be very qualitative if its consumption is to urgur well in the human body.
The colonial administration recognized this key role that improved water supply could play in the elimination or control of a number of common diseases and raise the level of health and general welfare of the people.
It therefore undertook water supply scheme in our towns and cities.
Despite all efforts, inadequate water supply remains one of the major problems in our cities, towns and villages in Nigeria to date. In fact none of the town or cities can we say quantitative and quantitative water is adequate and healthy indeed. It is no more a news to see some long queues or row of empty containers at public stand pipes. The need for house holds to invest in water storage tanks and the common use of unimproved water in all the places clearly indicates its severe inadequacy. Its also common for pipes to remain dry for days, weeks, months or even years in some parts of the towns, villages and cities.
There are typical examples of severe water shortage and the kind of poor quantity water. Zamfara State is a typical example of many Nigerian states. After many attempts to put the state water board in order through the water supply scheme to satisfy the water needs of the people which has failed rapidly since it became a state in 1996, up till today the supply has continue to fail because most of the plants at the water board are worn out and unable to discharge adequate water to the people. The normal hand pump (Tuka Tuka) are highly below the normal dept of 150 feet.
In these circumstances, tap water is precious commodity where even a Garry can of tap water is sold at N50 which has to be stored in tanks, pots and plastic containers in each house hold. In many areas where there is no flowing water, its supply is often complemented during rainy season with rain water caught up the roots of the houses or nearby ponds and streams especially when it coincided with power failure which is certain periodically.
Sometimes water for a demostic use is bought from waters tankers other water vendos including fire fighters whose supply is often from small rivers and ponds and streams especially hand dug wells. All these sources are not free from bacteriological pollution. And yet people have to drink such water when the supply of tap water run out.
If water supply is in major problem, then in the rural areas it is nothing less than a calamity. No social services that has direct link with the majority rural populace that suffer as much from this neglect as water supply schools and dispensaries were built for many villages, which today still rely on polluted local water streams and ponds or shallow wells for their water supply. Because of its impact on human health and vitality water supply can be said to be the key to rural development in any country.
But with the entrance of democratic regime, less has been done in the area of water supply. State Governments under the watchful eyes of state water boards should be committed to sinking boreholes in every part of the country. The popular boreholes of our time (Tuka tuka) has a very great weakness because of its inadequacies of water supply, technological problems and ignorance of the users. The constant outbreak of cholera and other water borne diseases which were not well known in the past have direct link with unsafe water.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that about 768 million Nigerians lack access to good portable drinking water. According to he head, media and external relations, Mr. Geoffery Njoku, this is the leading cause of death in thousands of children. The statement further said that 1,400 children under the age of five die each day from cause linked to lack of good portable water, sanitation etc, pointing out that most of these people without access to good portable water are poor and live in remote rural areas or urban slums.
The UNICEF said that over 1400 under five children die from cholera, diarrhea linked to lack of unclean water, adequate sanitation and hygiene. It was said that more than 80 million Nigerians lack lacked access to good portable water in 2011. The statement however placed Nigeria as the third country globally with most people without any access to portable drinking water. He said that the intervention of European union and united nation aids, over 1.9million Nigerians can now have access to safe water. Thus, the statement said would strengthen capacities on appropriate choice of technology for water supply.
With these, UNICEF is bringing good portable water to families living in some of the underserved areas in over 20 states of the federation.
Through this appropriate technologies that do not rely on electricity, water facilities that are easy to operate and maintain a greater number of disadvantaged people can be provided with good portable water. Continuing, the statement noted that every child in Nigeria deserved access to clean water and thereby a chance to survive and thrive.
An Indian water expert and co-ordinator of Drury industry in lagos, Mr. pradeep kumar who granted interview to this reporter said that his company has operated in Nigeria for over 30 years as the largest manufacturer of aluminium sulphate and sulphuric acid on the west coast of Africa according to him, water is a basic necessity of life and is in abundance in Nigeria which he said statistic showed that only thirty percent of Nigeria population have access to good portable drinking water. He went on to say that the cardinal objective of every government should be to chase comprehensive development of both ground and surface water for domestic and multi purpose use. He disagrees with Zamfara state ministry of water resources that ground water is a natural water that does not need any water treatment.
Mr. Pradeep Kumar therefore tasked the Federal, State and Local Governments on quantitative and qualitative water supply, to express their determination to impact positively on the life of the average Nigerian especially in the area of good portable water supply. He said that various governments should be saddled with the arduous task of revitalizing the collapsing sector to meet the attendant needs of the peoples saying that the water sector is in a sorry state as chemicals and working tools are lacking while plants are in a state of despair and over all morale commitment at their lowest ebb as a result of undaunted by task before them.
According to Mr. Kumar, Zamfara state for instance is short of good portable water because of power constraint, pointing out that the state produces less than 50 percent water treated with aluminum sulphate and sulphuric acid, saying that Nigeria need a revolution in the water sector. He said that due to power constraint the water plants are not working perfectly and that the governments need to revive and rehabilitate the plants. Most Governments in Nigeria lack focus on water sector, thereby depriving the common masses of good portable drinking water, adding that the situation is mind blowing issue.
The government should encourage water projects and ensure that their water boards purify water to provide good portable water to the people he said that the governments should stop believing that ground water is natural, stressing that ground water can be contaminated.
Mr. Pradeep Kumar explained that good, qualitative and quantitative water supply suppose to be a policy thrust of every government because water is life but most administrations have failed to measure up to the expected standard. Some administrations have failed to concern themselves with the reality that water supply is a necessity to the people and the responsibility of the government because they have budgets.
According to the Indian water expert, the masses are facing shortage of good portable drinking water because of power failure , the water boards produces only 50 percent of needed capacity due to erratic power supply, water plants are not working perfectly and the governments are not willing to revive and rehabilitate the plants. Most governments have lost focus on water sector. The issue is mind blowing even when the common masses especially the rural dwellers are suffering from water borne diseases such as typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, river blindness, leptospirosis, dysentery, e-coli, amoebiasis and trachoma, yet there is no privotal in the prevention of these diseases.
Like cholera infection which is caused by the bacterium vibro cholerea, the symptom are severe and noticeable which 200,000 reported cases are reported around the world annually of which 5,00 were said to be fatal. Just as the rives blindness (Onchocercisis) which many people suffer from this disease that can lead to permanent visual impairment if not treated adequately or Trachoma which the expert said can lead to blindness due to the disease, pointing out that water treatment with aluminium sulphate can remove 99.9 percent of bacteria, 90 percent of protozoa and 99 percent of viruses of water is purified and waste water treated.
The world health organization (WHO) recognizes aluminum sulphate as the most effective sulphate as the most effective method of primary water treatment which was resulted in its wide scale use across water treatment facilities and the beverages industries that remove and extract up to 99.2 percent of micro biological contamination in the water and make it okay for human consumption.