Water is a major component of not just the earth but every form of living. According to various statistics, it makes up for about 70% of the earth. There are various uses of water; it is used for feeding, bathing, drinking, transportation etc. Water is useful across all works of life and is an essential resource for living and for survival. The whole earth is filled with abundance of water but despite the availability, it’s been a big issue of concern as such a vital resource is not being well managed as it should be and the lack of proper protection of its various forms cannot be overlooked.
The criticality of water to life, no doubt, informed the inclusion of ‘Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’ in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS). Thomas Fuller said, ”we never know the worth of water till the well runs dry”. That saying emphasizes the precarious attitude we have towards this resource, through our various actions or inaction. The challenge poor hygiene and sanitation has not helped either.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says, “Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and faeces. Inadequate sanitation is a major cause of disease world-wide and improving sanitation is known to have a significant beneficial impact on health both in households and across communities. The word ‘sanitation’ also refers to the maintenance of hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection and wastewater disposal.”
According to analysis from Water.org “about 663 million people – 1 in 10 – lack access to safe water, 2.4 billion People – 1 in 3 – lack access to a toilet. Twice the population of the United States lives without access to safe water, 1/3 of the global population lives without access to a toilet. More people have a mobile phone than a toilet. A review of rural water system sustainability in eight countries in Africa, South Asia, and Central America found an average water project failure rate of 20 – 40 percent. Globally, 1/3 of all schools lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation. In low and middle-income countries, 1/3 of all healthcare facilities lack a safe water source. The water crisis is the #1 global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation), as announced by the World Economic Forum in January 2015”.
The agenda of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, is to uniquely ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all and there have been several goals targeted towards the achievement of this goal, one of which is to protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes by 2020. This can be achieved through a united effort and adequate dissemination of information to help protect and ensure a sustainable clean water provision and management as well as sanitation, which can only be achieved by developing a united front.
World Health Organisation (WHO) analysis on Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH), ”If we were able to provide basic, low cost water and sanitation facilities to countries in need, the world would save around US$263 billion a year. If everyone in the world had access, the reduction in diarrhoea-related disease alone would save $11.6 billion in health treatment costs, and would generate $5.6 billion in labour spending”. This further goes to show that not only are we saving and maintaining this resource but we are also protecting ourselves and building a better future. Also, we are saving funds that can later be spent on other things as well as creating opportunities and making better health.
Written by Oluwasina Fowowe (an intern). Graphics by Daniel ‘Femi Macaulay