World Water Day is held on the 22nd of March every year with particular emphasis on the importance of freshwater. This year’s edition is about water and climate change – and how the two are indistinguishably linked.
Globally, the drastic effects of climate change are felt. Greenhouse gas emissions are more than 50% higher than in 1990 (United Nations Development Programme’s Sustainable Development Goals 13 on Climate Change) as global warming is causing long-lasting changes to our climate system and with irreversible consequences staring at us should we fail to act.
Water is the foremost medium through which the effects of climate change are felt. Global warming, higher temperatures and more extreme, less predictable weather conditions are already having a determinate effect on the water cycle, altering the amount, distribution, timing, and quality of available water. As the global population grows, so does the demand for water. Changes in water availability will also impact health and food security while low-income communities are likely to be worst affected.
This year’s campaign seeks to address how our use of water will help reduce floods, droughts, scarcity and pollution. With particular emphasis on pollution, the collapse of Edo state public water system has increased the spate of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Human activities continue to cause groundwater pollution as harmful substances from dumps and landfills, oil spillage, waste pits and ponds, septic tanks, agricultural practices among others infiltrate deep into the ground and penetrate the groundwater aquifers.
The impact of poor sanitation on child mortality rates is devastating as more than 150,000 children under five, die annually in Nigeria from diarrhea related diseases due to poor sanitation, poor hygiene, or unsafe drinking water (Federal Ministry of Water Resources).
As part of the solution, the SIMPLE Agenda has included climate-smart agricultural techniques and increase in the safe reuse of wastewater. We will reform and invest in Edo State Urban Water Board to boost the provision of potable drinking water across the state and de-emphasize the present over-reliance on borehole water which is mostly untreated. To this end, we shall embark on the construction of public water works in selected community clusters across the state.
In conclusion, this year’s occasion of the World Water Day can be said to be well timed. The importance of sanitation as well as clean and accessible water cannot be overemphasized in the event of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) disease.
Let us remember to wash our hands regularly with clean flowing water and soap or with an alcohol-based hand gel. As the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic continues its spread, UNICEF is reminding the public of the importance of hand washing as a key prevention measure and urging renewed efforts to provide access to this most basic of public health interventions around the world.
Let’s stay hygienic as we fight COVID-19.
We cannot afford to wait. Everyone has got a role to play.
Pst Dr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu Esq.