To mark the world water day, a Non-Government Organisation (NGO), the Rural Community Development Outreach (RCDO), based in Nigeria with membership across the rural communities in the six geo-political regions of Nigeria, has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to pay attention to the water crisis in Nigeria which presently threatens the lives over 78 million children and millions more in the rural communities of Nigeria.
In a statement signed by the National Coordinator, Engr Ikenna Ellis-Ezenekwe and National Secretary, Okwudili Onyeke and made available to the press in Abuja, the group disclosed that over 78 million of Nigeria’s children are in danger and find themselves at risk of water related diseases.
This is according to estimates by the United Nations Children Fund under (UNICEF).
According to the group, there exists an existential threat looming dangerously that may overpower the Nigerian health care sector.
“Already Nigeria is one of the 10 countries that carry the heaviest burden of child deaths from diseases caused by inadequate attention to water supply, sanitation and hygiene such as diarrhea diseases. In Nigeria, one third of children do not have access to at least basic water at home, and two thirds do not have basic sanitation services.
“Not minding that Nigerian households, according to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, spent over N4trillion on water sanitary, hygiene and services annually in 2019 and 2020. The majority of the rural communities in Nigeria find themselves without access to safe usable water. Many are left with no options than to use polluted and highly contaminated water streams for drinking water and other uses.
“As the world celebrates water day, it will be morally just for the federal government of Nigeria and the people in leadership positions to reexamine the trouble posed by continued unavailability of safe water in rural communities around the country. It is the civil right of every Nigerian, both young and old, to have access to safe water that will not cause a pandemic”, it said.
A study sponsored by UNICEF in 2021 disclosed that only 6% of the healthcare facilities in Nigeria have safe water facilities while only 11% of schools have safe water facilities. This is as the then Federal Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu indicated only 28 out of the 36 States of the federation have urban water utilities or State Water Agency.
Only 16 out of the 28 States have fully functioning urban utilities while 12 were partially functional. The Minister added that access to public water supply declined from 32% in 1990 to less than 7% in 2015.
In Lagos, less than 6million out of the over 20million population have access to public water, as the majority depend on private boreholes, wells and packaged table water. In Enugu, only 10,000 of the residents have access to potable water. In Abia, there is no access to potable water. In Kano, less than 40% of the population have access to potable water. In Kebbi, less than 20% of the population have access to public water. UNICEF study puts the daily consumption of water by each Nigerian at 9liters per day.
The group noted that most state governments have adopted the concept of sinking water boreholes as a solution to the unavailability of safe water.
“But boreholes do not address the safety problem, Government should look beyond the sinking of water boreholes as solutions to safe drinking water. This government must conceive a plan. A real implementable plan for delivering safe drinking water to every home in Nigeria particularly the rural communities. It should be considered as important as building roads and hospitals”.
“For the health and wellbeing of the Nation, it is pertinent for better attention to be paid to safe water systems. Nigeria cannot develop without a well thought out plan on safe water systems”, it said.