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Nigeria: The lack of drinking water and dangers of water boreholes

By Emeka Chiakwelu

By Emeka Chiakwelu [email protected] www.afripol.org

In classical physics, the study of fundamental principle of matter gave us the law of conservation of matter which states that matter can neither be created nor destroyed. Water is a matter and the quantity of water in Nigeria has not been altered. Therefore when we say that we lack water in Nigeria, it is a false premise because the rivers, lakes, streams and waters of Nigeria have not disappeared. What we lack is the clean and drinking water in Nigeria. Our government inability to deliver drinkable water to the citizens at the dawn of 21st century is one of most difficult thing to fathom.

In terms of provision of drinking water to poor populace, we do not have to necessarily compare Nigeria to America, Britain or Western countries. African countries and third world countries with GDP one third of Nigeria have adequate and clean water supplies to its citizenry. NO! We cannot journey oversea to make the comparison, we can just start from Nigeria's neighbor in West Africa – countries like Ghana, Togo, Chad and many others are providing sanitized tap drinkable water to its citizens but the so-called giant of Africa with its enormous resources and huge foreign reserve cannot do it.

Nigeria of 1960s, 70s and even early 80s was doing it and providing treated drinking water to the people of Nigeria. But at a point with bulging population, poor planning and corruption diverted the professionalism of the Ministry of Water Works and turned into an incompetent and do-nothing entity.

Nigeria has abundant fresh water: Groundwater, rivers and lakes that can be channeled into Ministry of Water Works or Treatment plants. With application of chlorination and filtration procedures it will be ready for human consumption. The human capitals in terms of technical know-how are available and the technology for water purification is not an intricate methodology. Nigerians with GCE ordinary levels and secondary education can operate and manage water treatment plants.

The costs of setting up water treatment plants are minimal compare to the waste that Nigeria accumulated when she lunched the fallen satellite (NigComSat-1). The multi-million dollar Nigerian satellite (NigComSat-1) built and launched by the Chinese in May 2007, was shut down to prevent it spinning out of control and damaging others in orbit. The satellite project an example of a "white elephant in space" was a waste of time and resources. The billions of naira invested in the satellite technology can be utilized to solve the earthly problem of the supply of borne tap water to struggling villages in the interior of Nigeria.

UNESCO documented that, “Water-related diseases are among the most common causes of illness and death, affecting mainly the poor in developing countries. They kill more than 5 million people every year, more than ten times the number killed in wars. The diseases can be divided into four categories: water-borne, water-based, water-related, and water-scarce diseases.”

The consequences of drinking contaminated and polluted water in Nigeria come with a terrible and devastating cost. The cost and damage brought by drinking of parasite infected water with its borne diseases are very expensive which mostly affect new born babies and children. This is a major contributory to the abysmal high infant mortality rate in Africa and Nigeria in particular. This cannot be write off easily in same manner Nigeria treat anything important to the wellbeing of the nation.

Waterborne diseases have causative agents and “are caused by pathogenic microorganisms which are directly transmitted when contaminated fresh water is consumed. Contaminated fresh water, used in the preparation of food, can be the source of food borne disease through consumption of the same microorganisms. According to the World Health Organization, diarrheal disease accounts for an estimated 4.1% of the total DALY global burden of disease and is responsible for the deaths of 1.8 million people every year. It was estimated that 88% of that burden is attributable to unsafe water supply, sanitation and hygiene, and is mostly concentrated in children in developing countries. Waterborne disease can be caused by protozoa, viruses, or bacteria, many of which are intestinal parasites,” according to Wikipedia.

Nigeria according to UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, “Guinea worm and onchocerchiasis( River blindness) are endemic water-borne diseases in certain parts of Africa's most populous country (Nigeria) of more than 120 million people. UNICEF had decided to emphasise water and environmental sanitation after realising that the occurrence of diarrhea, a major childhood killer in Nigeria, could decline by 15 percent if water quality was improved, Ackers said in the capital Abuja. Increasing the quantity of available water, he added, would lower the incidence of diarrhea by 22 percent. In combination with improved hygiene, the incidence could further drop by up to 35 percent while adding safe disposal of feces would lower this by 40 percent.”



In search of drinking water

Due to the government inefficiency especially on the States and Local government levels, the energetic and pragmatic Nigerians are restoring to digging water boreholes for our children and families to quench the water thirst. The people cannot wait any longer for their elected officials, who refused to do the job of providing clean water to their neglected constituents.

Gradually the governments are joining the people in digging water boreholes and even appointing commissioners who channel funds for the project. This might look good even sounds good but the government in this case is in the wrong direction. The government should go and resuscitate the dormant water work plants and rebuild them. Then start providing tap drinking water and not digging boreholes.

Most of these boreholes are exposed to underground pathogens and pollutants especially E-coli that is responsible for stomach upset that comes with diarrhea and massive lose of fluids. In the undergrounds the water might also be exposed to the natural radioactive nuclides and nature's occurring hazardous metals (As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sn, and Tl) these heavy metals as they are called are toxic with carcinogenic properties. Therefore it is highly recommended and intrinsic that water from the boreholes is sampled for laboratory analysis and bio-chemical analytical before consumption.

The ubiquitous drilling and digging of the ground soil for water may weaken the soil surface with an enhanced porosity. With such vulnerability and lesser cohesion, the ephemeral soil might trigger erosion. These erosion gullies are already prevalent in Anambra State and southeastern Nigeria; therefore further drilling of water boreholes may thicken the situation.

On this World Water Day, Nigerian government must understand the ramification of abandoning its basic responsibility to the people. The government should provide to the people of Nigeria treated and drinkable water.

Dedicated to the World Water Day



Emeka Chiakwelu is the Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol Organization. Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.

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AFRICAN QUEEN | 4/6/2010 11:05:00 PM
AS AFRICANS, WE HAVE TO BE OPTIMISTIC THAT WE CAN HAVE AN ECONOMY THAT FUNCTIONS DEMOCRATICALLY, EFFICIENTLY AND EFFECTIVELY IF WE ALL PUT OUR MINDS TO MAKE IT WORK TOGETHER. THAT IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD! WE SHOULD STOP WASTING TIME BEING INEFFICIENT AND CORRUPT! INEFFICIENCY AND CORRUPTION ONLY CREATES POVERTY AND MISERY. WE ALL KNOW THAT SO WHY DO WE CONTINUE?



IN MY OBJECTIVE OPINION, MY SUGGESTIONS SHOULD BRING ABOUT A HEALHY PRODUCTIVE AFRICAN ECONOMY:



1. A YOUNG DYNAMIC LEADER MAN OR WOMAN with a democratic vision who will appoint efficient ECONOMIST who can really bring CHANGE. I am tired of all those African leaders who are above 60 years old who take the reins. Where are all the young dynamic African people to lead our great countries of Africa ? Perhaps 40-45yrs old, below fifty years old at most?

2. ACCURATE CENSUS OF THE POPULATION AND SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS FOR EVERY GHANAIAN/AFRICAN. Needless to say without an accurate census you would not know which services are needed for your population and you can not cater accurately for their needs. Social security numbers keep track of taxes paid by the citizen, healthcare payments and provision, and will be used for pension payments when one retires.

3. THE ECONOMIST SHOULD FIGURE OUT MONEY GENERATING VENTURES. E.g. Tax systems that are effective and efficient. Tax for anything & everything taxable. Keeping track of the monies to make sure it does not end up in someone's pocket is the challenge. LET US STOP CORRUPTION! IT HAS BEEN DOING MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD FOR DECADES.

We can use the money from taxation to fund a FREE good educational system for children up to 18 yrs old.

4. IMPROVEMENT OF OUR INFRASTUCTURE. WE NEED CIVIL AND ELECTRICAL ENGINEERS, AND ARCHITECTS TO BUILD A SOLID INFRASTRUCTURE. Building and naming of ALL roads, streets, numbering of ALL properties.

All this P.o boxes as standard for addresses in Ghana/Africa does not work! And does not propel us forward! We have to get used to the idea of ALL CITIZENS having physical addresses as their primary addresses of course p.o boxes can be secondary.

ONE EXAMPLE BELOW OF WHY P.O BOXES DOESN'T WORK!

Drivers licenses ARE NOT a true form of ID if it only has a p.o Box! Drivers with offences just make another p.o box no up and apply in another town. Where is the centralization of information because of computers?

In most western countries you need 2 letters mailed to that address, and a picture ID to apply for a driver's license. If you move to a new town/city you have to change your address within 10 days of arrival. That way the city collects fines from driving offenses because your address and picture is on your license. If you do not pay the fine, the fine keeps increasing, points are put on your license and your license is suspended. If your car insurance expires the insurance co. writes to the Drivers license dept that you do not have car insurance and a letter is sent to your address that your license will be suspended in 3 weeks if you don't renew your car insurance. If you are caught driving with a suspended license they will send you to jail and some one has to pay money to bail you out. All this makes money for the city and therefore the country, and the money can be used for developing the roads! A lot of uncollected fines is the result of the pot holes and untarred roads in Africa !

5. FREE EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN UP TO THE AGE OF 18! It should be against the law for children under 18 years to be hawkers on the streets of any African country during school hours. Teaching these children how to read & write English is the key to the success of any African country. At this stage there are hundreds of different languages spoken in Africa , English as the Lingua Franca should be fine. English is the most widely spoken language in the world. LITERACY AND FURTHER EDUCATION IS KEY TO THE DEVELOMENT OF EVERY SOCIETY! WE SHOULD NOT FORGET WELL EQUIPED LIBRARIES WITH COMPUTERS TOO. IF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE KEPT THEIR LANGUAGE TO THEMSELVES WHERE WOULD AFRICANS BE?

6. ELECTRICITY, WATER, AND SANITATION that is reliable AT ALL TIMES. The civil, electrical engineers and architects should take care of this area. Electricity supply that gets interrupted many times a day is a hindrance to being able to have frozen foods at home, and a hindrance to being able to run a business and an economy efficiently and effectively. Clean water and sanitation is crucial to the health of an African economy. What I mean by clean water and sanitation is by digging up of underground tunnels along all the streets of Africa . These tunnels will carry waste from homes and businesses to a processing plant, the processing plant in turn processes the waste for manure (for agriculture) and provides clean water for consumption. It is better to start digging for a better sanitation system that to stay at point A and say it seems so huge a task to start! What are the alternatives if we do not start digging for a better network of sanitation? I.e. Efficient removal of household, medical, commercial waste and provision of clean water.



7. RELIABLE ROAD/AIR/WATER PUBLIC TRANSPORTAION. Without reliable transportation how can people and goods be moved to generate revenue to improve the economy? All the above creates jobs, tourism and adventure for a thriving economy.

8. EMERGENCY, FIRE AND A POLICE SERVICE that is efficient and reliable and not corrupt. People are dying premature deaths because there is no emergency service available immediately to assist an injured person. I'm sure there have been instances that a fire service was called and there was not enough water to quench the fire!? If majority of the police are corrupt then how can justice prevail?

9. LEGAL SYSTEMS that are effective and efficient! Any economy with a legal system that CANNOT be relied upon most times creates chaos, injustice and it is frustrating. We should have small claims courts, and T.V shows can even be generated which would in turn educate the public about the laws of the land, and may deter people from being offenders. A legal system that works EQUALLY for all creates peace in any economy.

10. CESSATION OF TRIBAL WARS AND TRIBALISM. Why NOT use our energy for the development of our villages, towns and cities instead of using our energy to fight tribal wars? I am tired of tribalism within each country in Africa . Yet when we experience racism in Europe and America and we do not get the job positions we deserve despite being qualified we scream RACISM!! We should head back home and give back to our African countries and stop TRIBALISM!



11. RELIGIOUS NON BIASES. We should stop judging people because of their religion or lack of. If their religious beliefs are not causing any violence to anybody let it be. As far as they are good citizens and are not violent to anybody leave them alone. If you believe in the judgment day then leave it to GOD to deal with them but definitely not you! Israel and Palestine still have not solved their religious differences! How sad is that? Killing each other because of religious differences happened centuries ago and where are we on religion in 2010 There has been sexual abuse cases in ALL religions so why the hypocrisy that one religion is better than the other? Let us respect each others religion.







12. UNIVERSITY GRADUATE OF EVERY PRINCIPLE should be given projects that develop an economy. African universities churn out economists, architects, civil engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, nurses, teachers, doctors, lawyers, poets, Psychologists to name a few. What do all those graduates do with their skills while they sit around after graduation and the economy of their African country crumbles around them? What sense that does make? Graduates use the skills you have learnt in university and be creative with your knowledge. Graduates get together and contact your president with your ideas! Sometimes if progress is not happening from the top, pressure has to start from the bottom up!



13. MANUFACTURING AND INDUSTRALIZATION. Canning and drying of foods and manufacturing of anything possible like cloths, solar products, cars the list goes on. Anything manufacturable instead of us buying finished products to sell. Any economy that solely depends on imports and lives on credit cards does not prosper because IT IS NOT SELF RELIANT. There is a RECESSION in the WESTERN WORLD at the moment because it imports most of its goods from CHINA ! And was living on credit. Currently there are no jobs in the USA , EUROPE and families and people are homeless and living on the streets. AFRICANS let us NOT depend on CHINA 'S cheap goods! We should rather be manufacturing every product possible to create jobs and development in Africa . Where is our industrial revolution?





14. DEVELOPMENT OF TOWN/CITIES TO BE SELF RELIANT. Towns should be developed enough so they are self sufficient and can sustain themselves by the presence of businesses, schools, interesting parks and tourist attractions. People of those towns, from nearby cities and tourist would visit those attractions therefore generating revenue for those towns. The prosperity of all the towns collectively makes the whole country prosperous. This will develop that town/city, will create jobs and will create less congestion in the capital cities of most African countries. Everybody wants to move to the city because it has more opportunities. This creates unnecessary congestion in the capital, and this can be avoided with good planning.

15. DECENTRALIZATION OF PUBLIC SERVICES. In some countries in Africa one has to go to the capital to process passport applications. Why can not it be processed in the town one lives? Decentralization create jobs in every town and city and develops the economy as a whole. Because of computers decentralization of offices generate centralized information technologically and the system used even becomes more efficient because it can be accessed across the country. We are in the age of technology let us use it efficiently!



HAVING A COMMITTED, RELIABLE, EFFICIENT, EFFECTIVE YOUNG AFRICAN PRESIDENT IN EVERY AFRICAN COUNTRY IS KEY TO THE SUCCESS OF THE AFRICAN CONTINENT.

ONCE WE HAVE MOST OF THE BASICS COVERED ABOVE IN OUR AFRICAN COUNTIRES PROSPERITY WILL FOLLOW BECAUSE WE HAVE MOST OF THE FUNDAMENTALS COVERED AND OUR FOUNDATION IS SOLID. LET US ALL GET CRACKING ON THE TASK TO MAKE AFRICA A PROSPEROUS CONTINENT BY USING THE COMMON SENSE THAT GOD HAS GIVEN US!

AFRICANS LET US GET MORE ORGANIZED, ENTHUSIASTIC, DYNAMIC, SOPHISTICATED, COMMITTED AND DETERMINED TO MAKE THE AFRICAN CONTINENT PROSPEROUS THROUGH HARD WORK. LET US STRIDE WITH PRIDE AND TAKE ON THE TASK OF MAKING THE WHOLE CONTINENT OF AFRICA AN EFFICIENT, EFFECTIVE, CORRUPTION FREE CONTINENT!



WHAT WE SEEK IN WESTERN ECONOMIES WE CAN CREATE FOR OURSELVES IN AFRICA IF WE PUT OUR MINDS TO IT. OUR PROSPERITY WOULD BE OUR PRIDE AND NOBODY ELSE'S! WE WOULD BE OWNERS OF OUR PROSPERITY AND OUR ACHIVEMENTS AND THE JOY WOULD NOT BE TEMPORARY BUT PERMANENT FOR MOTHER AFRICA ! LONG LIVE OUR BELOVED MOTHER AFRICA!


Ben | 1/28/2014 5:09:00 PM
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be reminded always that one day,illusion shall give for reality
By: inyang enobong