Water is an essential nutrient needed for metabolic activities in the body. Access to safe, affordable and clean water prevents a lot of diseases. Safe water is important to a country because it does not only contribute to and ensure good health of its citizens, but also contributes to the sustainable development of such a country. When the citizens of a country have access to fresh, affordable and accessible water, the prevalence of diseases reduces drastically and the quality of life increases. Provision of accessible safe water is one of the most effective means of ensuring good life.
However, water scarcity, lack of clean water, inadequate water facilities and inadequacy of clean water are factors that affect the availability of safe water. Water scarcity, according to UNICEF, affects more than 40 percent of people around the world. This is a percent which has been projected to increase as a result of increase in global warming and climate change. Scarcity of safe and affordable water has posed a serious challenge to the entire continents in the world.
As a result of this challenge, the UN has included the affordability and accessibility of safe and clean water sanitation for all in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is seen in Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all; and Target 6.1 which calls for achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all. This is to ensure that the entire world can boast of access to safe and affordable water by 2030. In order to achieve this, the United Nations has called on its member states and the entire world to “…protect and restore water-related ecosystems such as forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers to mitigate water scarcity.” Also, cooperation from international bodies is needed to help combat the problem of water scarcity, water pollution and unaffordable water in the world before 2030.
Nevertheless, Nigeria has been able to make substantial progress in making policies and developing strategies for clean water supply, but faces challenges in putting these policies and strategies into action. According to UNICEF, about 70 million people, out of a population of 171 million, lacked access to safe drinking water, and over 110 million lacked access to improved sanitation in 2013. Open defecation rates, at 28.5 percent pose grave public health risks. Every year, an estimated 124,000 children under the age of 5 die because of diarrhea, mainly due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. Lack of adequate water and sanitation are also major causes of other diseases, including respiratory infection and under-nutrition. The amount of clean water on earth is limited, and its quality is under constant pressure due to water pollution and climate change.
Therefore, preservation of the quality of clean water is important for the “drinking-water supply, food production and recreational water use.” UNICEF has so far contributed to the eradication of guinea worm disease in Nigeria. In 2013, Nigeria was certified free of the disease. Also, WHO and UNICEF are working with government partners to improve monitoring of drinking water services. Drinking water quality is now being measured directly in household surveys, and governments are improving their capacity for surveillance and regulation of drinking water supplies, generating information that can be used for global as well as national monitoring.
In conclusion, clean water is important to our well -being. Drinking good water can prevent a lot of diseases. Dumping of wastes into rivers and streams is one of the ways of making water poisonous and hence resulting in a more complex disease. Let us all make efforts to make water available and safe for drinking and for use. Let us stop dumping wastes in our waters and also stop the release of toxic chemicals into the air. A clean water for all is a good health for all.
Written by Ms Olaide Olumide (An intern)