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Water, Water Everywhere…

Every March 22, the international community marks the World Water Day. The day has been observed since 1993 when the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed it as a day for sensitisation of the public on the critical issues of water and how it affects humanity. This year’s theme, “Water and Sustainable Development”, is intended to highlight its role in the sustainable development agenda. Although around 71 percent of the earth surface is covered with it, fresh water constitutes only 2.53 percent of the total amount. Surprisingly, most of it exists in the North and South Poles as ice.
The real available freshwater resources in the world comprise only 0.2 percent. As a result, freshwater is becoming more and more valuable following the increase of population.
From food and energy security to human and environmental health, water contributes to improvements in social well-being and inclusive growth, affecting the livelihoods of billions. The importance of water in human existence cannot be overestimated. It is a necessity for health, sanitation, industries, agriculture and maintaining a balanced ecosystem. Yet, it is being depleted at a rate never ever seen since the beginning of civilisation.
Everywhere, groundwater table is declining at alarming rate due to over extraction. This has put people to arsenic threat. Today, more than one billion people are exposed to drinking arsenic contaminated water, especially in poor countries, while overdependence on groundwater, as a source of safe water, is accelerating drying up of natural aquifers.
According to United Nations, one million people move into cities every week due to the impacts of climate change and water scarcity. The projections show that another 2.5 billion people will move to urban centres by 2050. In cities, pollution and continuing urban migration aggravate the problem.
Also, in the countryside, insufficient irrigation continues to affect agricultural production, while in impoverished communities, the lack of access to clean water even for washing hands has been a factor in poor health especially among children. In Nigeria, over 60 million people lack access to improved water sources, even as more than 120 million lack access to basic sanitation. The country still suffers periodic water borne diseases such as cholera and diarrhea due to inadequate water and sanitation facilities. Even studies on worst-case scenarios have warned that wars between countries will be fought over fresh water supplies.
Therefore there is the need for policies to promote water conservation and support wastewater treatment and recycling. Alarmingly, the problem of water shortage is getting worse due to irregular rainfall attributed to climate change and a global water demand that is projected to soar by 55 percent within 15 years.
It is time Nigeria and the international community reflects this urgency as time is running out. Definitely, there is need to do whatever is necessary to secure the world’s water supply and prevent a calamitous new norm.

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