Calls on govt to marshal pragmatic solutions
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
An environment expert and Director, Health for Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, Wednesday, expressed worry over indiscriminate borehole drilling in the country.
Bassey stated this while speaking with Vanguard on the frightening level at which Nigerians drink contaminated water despite knowing the grave health risk inherent in the practice, which all boils down to alleged government neglect to provide potable and safe drinking water for the people.
He also said without a national water master-plan that quantifies the amount of water available and delineates their spread, Nigerians are living on false hopes that money can buy water.
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He said: “The problems with the indiscriminate drilling of water borehole are many. First, it shows we erroneously think that groundwater will always be easily accessible.
“Without a mapping of the aquifers in the country, without a national water masterplan that quantifies the amount of water available and delineates their spread, we are living on false hopes that money can buy water.
“Water vastly polluted surface and groundwater, those depending on borehole water may well be drinking contaminated water. The fact that water is from a borehole doesn’t assure its portability.
“Without water, there cannot be adequate sanitation and personal hygiene. With water that is not properly treated citizens are exposed to water-borne diseases.
“Apart from projects supported by international financial institutions, governments and politicians are basically approaching water supply using the same model of ordinary citizens.
“Without running water, how can citizens observe the COVID-19 protocols in situations where the only water available is from stagnant polluted ponds?
“The present situation where the rich can afford to fill their swimming pools with clean water and the poor must buy water packaged in plastic bags and labeled “pure water” will eventually trigger a revolt.
“Considering the levels aren’t nationally mapped, it is likely that in the best future Nigerians may need to dig deeper, perhaps to the second aquifer, to reach potable water.
“When that time arrives, only government, corporations and the very rich will be able to afford such water mining enterprises. At that time the most accessible water may be human urine, for those alive!”
Meanwhile, in his recommendation, he (Bassey) said a survey of the water supply situation in the country followed by emergency water installations with treatment plants is to be done by the government to intervene quickly in order to stem the rising tide of COVID-19 spread due to citizens’ inability to have access to water.
“The medium-term action should include a survey of the water supply situation in the country followed by emergency water installations with treatment plants.
These should be accompanied by public education on the health implications of drinking or cooking with non-potable water.”
He also highlighted efforts made by his organisation in proffering solutions to the water problem.
“It is almost routine now for homeowners to drill water boreholes or wells as they construct their houses. This has become the only way to ensure water supply for many Nigerians.
“I doubt if there is any public water supply pipeline within a kilometre of where I live in a Benin City suburb. Citizens make do with whatever water they can find. It is an unthinkable situation.
“I have had times when I pleaded with kids to come out of contaminated waters in the Niger Delta and insisting they were entitled to space for recreation.
When asked what their future dreams were, 90 per cent said they wish to become politicians— so as to reap where they don’t have to sow.
Pollution kills creativity and positive imaginations. I’ve also seen young people who defiantly fetched and drank oil-coated water, declaring they had no option.
“HOMEF focuses on monitoring water pollution from hydrocarbon and other industrial sources.
“We believe that clean water bodies provide natural potable water, support local economies, and keep citizens healthy.
We also work with fishers in Nigeria and other African countries to monitor and defend aquatic ecosystems to the benefit of human populations and other species.
“We also support campaigns against privatization of water. Water is life and must not be commodified”, he added.