SATURDAY March 22 passed away quietly. It was the 21st United Nations World Water Day with its theme, Water and Energy, capturing most of the travails of living in Nigeria where the celebration with rehashed speeches, indicating poignantly the disregard for the combined development water and energy provide.
The connections between water and energy and their impacts on the lives of people across the world have held the attention on the resources and uses. Many countries have realised that without water and energy, prosperity and successes they target are impossible.
Among objectives the United Nations set for the World Water Day were identifying policies, approaches and solutions to water-energy issues that are expected to achieve greater economic and social impacts. Relevant stakeholders in the water-energy sector are to be engaged in the development of more water-energy linkages.
For Nigeria, focus on energy and water is critical to the attainment of the economic and social prosperity that Nigerians desire. Water is very essential to human survival. Energy, some of which could be generated from water, is crucial for sustainable industrial, commercial and social engagements.
The lackadaisical approaches to issues of water and energy are difficult to understand against the understanding of the general improvements they can make on lives, including creating jobs across industries and various enterprises. Nigeria’s situation is worse: we do not have drinking water.
Water defines some countries. Water is so important that nations have gone to war over it. Egypt and Ethiopia cannot do without the Nile. Their agriculture, electricity, and water for other daily affairs, draw from the river they share with Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. The linkages from the uses of the Nile affect both economic and social lives of their peoples.
The 6,650-km Nile, the longest river in the world, serves over 450 million people with more than 200 million of them depending directly on it for their food and water security. Agreements on the uses of the Nile date back to 1902.
Our local communities are at war over dwindling water resources. The larger national picture is of urban areas with drinking water from unsafe sources and epileptic energy supplies. The hazards from such living, which is worse in rural Nigeria, are too ominous to be ignored.
Lamentations about the poor state of our energy and water infrastructure should stop. We need to act, and quickly too. Government budgets for the sectors are so low that it is obvious they are not meant to solve the problems.
Profound solutions to Nigeria’s water and energy crises lie in more robust partnerships with the private sector and users.