“Water Water everywhere, nor any drop to drink’’ is a popular line from the “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’’, written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1798.
The line described the predicament of a sailor on a becalmed ship who was surrounded by salt water that he could not drink.
Many years, down the line, the situation remains same as greater percentage of humanity see water, yet the water is not clean and safe for use.
Volcanologist Jim Webster on the American Museum of Natural History says the earth contains huge quantities of water in its oceans, lakes, rivers, and atmosphere and in the rocks of the inner earth.
“But, while our planet may never run out of water, it’s important to remember that clean freshwater is not always available where and when humans need it.’’
Also, according to the olc.worldbank.org, of all the water that exists on our planet, roughly 97 per cent is saltwater and less than 3 per cent is freshwater.
“Most of earth’s freshwater is frozen in glaciers, ice caps, or is deep underground in aquifers.
“Less than 1 per cent of earth’s water is freshwater that is easily accessible to us to meet our needs, and most of that water is replenished by precipitation.’’
Hence, the clamour for communities to have access to clean safe water and need to protect the quality of our planet’s freshwater by conserving and using it more wisely.
March 22 is commemorated annually as World Water Day and 2019’s theme was “Living No One Behind’’.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Water Availability Enhancement Project (IWAVE), collaborates with the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency.
According to it, Nigeria, the country with the highest population and the largest economy in Africa, faces various water-related challenges, from water scarcity in the North to water pollution in the South.
It says that the water crisis is, especially acute in the 21 million megacity of Lagos and that though the city is built around a lagoon, people are struggling to find water suitable for drinking and sanitation.
Also, recent statistics by the UNICEF shows Nigeria has over 3.6 million people who lack access to potable water, sanitation and hygiene services.
The dangers of the scenario are alarming and calls for governments and stakeholders’ attention because of the implications all spheres of life, especially to health, education and economy.
As a stakeholder, Nestlé Nigeria Plc, producers of Nestle Pure Life Water, organised a programme at its Pure Water factory, Agbara, to raise awareness on how to manage water resources to ensure that water will always be available to people.
Mrs Victoria Uwadoka, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager (CCPA), Nestlé Nigeria Plc, said that water is a fundamental human right.
“Everybody has a right to water no matter where they come from or where they are.
“At Nestlé Nigeria, we also believe that water is a necessary scarce resource and so, it needs to be protected.
“This year’s theme, which is Leaving No One Behind, tasks us to ensure water is available for everyone today and in the future.
“That way, the next generation will also have water available, so we need to think about sustainability of water.’’
On some of the importance of water, she said: “The human body is made up of over 70 per cent water and water it washes away toxins from our body.
“Water aids in digestion; water refreshes and it helps us maintain a comfortable temperature.
“When you do not have enough water, you can have various problems that are caused by dehydration, including headaches, migraines and others and you actually have no way of flushing out the toxins from your body.
“This will in return create problems for the body; so, water is very important for the body when it comes to health.’’
According to Uwadoka, health is dependent on hygiene as well and without water, one cannot maintain good hygiene.
“Safe clean water is required for washing hands, cloths, preparing foods and for drinking,’’ she said.
“So, on our part, we ensure that the water we produce is available to our host communities.
“Nestlé Nigeria provides water, digs boreholes, makes sure that the water filtration, the cleansing process for the water is such that the water is safe and good for consumption,’’ she said.
Uwadoka urged Nigerians to manage their water resource very efficiently as the consequences of water shortage include dehydration, limited or no access to clean fresh water, food shortage, energy shortage, health challenges and general economic slowdown.
Mr Emmanuel Olu-Ayeni, a Water Resources, Management and Preservation Consultant, also told NAN there was need to conserve water as it is scarce.
“A greater percent of the earth’s surface, about 70 or 71 per cent, is covered by water; yet, there is need for us to be talking about conservation.
“This is because the greater percentage of this 71 are not useful for human being consumption.
“Some are salty, they are sea water. Some are in form of glacier, that means they are in form of ice and not available for use.
“Some are polluted, for example, water surrounds the whole of Lagos but they are mainly lagoon and lagoon is polluted.
“Conservation becomes important now because the proportion of clean water that human beings can use for production, consumption, for animal uses and everything is very limited.
“Conserving water resources ensures that we and our coming generation can have access to clean and drinkable water.’’
On ways to conserve water, Olu-Ayeni told NAN there is need to prevent pollution and stop some bad habits, especially throwing garbage and defecating into rivers and drains.
“We also have to stop using germicides and chemicals for fishing and farming.
“Industrial users must also be very careful about the way they use water; same also for individual and domestic users.
“If you don’t need the quantity of water, you don’t need to pump it; there is no point leaving your tap running when you are washing your mouth, instead use a cup to collect it.
“If you leave the water running, you are wasting it,’’ Olu-Ayeni, who is the CEO of Starbright Consulting Ltd. told NAN.
He urged governments at all levels to provide potable water facilities in all villages and cities.
“If you go to our villages and cities, we are far below other countries in terms of accessibility to potable water.
“Most people just do their own boreholes or wells; majority of these are very shallow well and in real fact, not really clean.
“The water is not treated and exposes us to all sorts of diseases.
“The government is still not making water priority; there is need to increase the budget allocated to water resources as what is allocated to water resources is very small,’’ Olu- Ayeni said.
By Vivian Ihechu, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)