Water – Who Will Help Her Access Her Right?

CAN you go through your day without access to clean, safe water for drinking, cooking, washing, or bathing? When you have access to water do you know whether it is fit for human consumption? The woman in the picture we used has more challenges. She wants access to water, just water. Quality would be the least of her concerns.

Nigeria has become remarkable for leaving millions of her people behind as it wobbles to developments defined by more SUVs to escape bad roads, personal guards to counter insecurity, private jets for comfort of the elected. Most of the costs are borne by the poor public for the benefit of a few public and private officials who have no time for the troubles of the larger society.

Why would a human being, a woman, a wife, a mother, one of us, as reckoned only in official statistics, endanger herself to get water of doubtful quality? Whose responsibility is it to ensure she and millions of others who bear the burden of water scarcity get help? Is theirs a lost case?

Some will look at the depiction of water scarcity in Nigeria and come up with all types of explanations. None would get her water. How would she get water? When will she get water? Would she be able to live the more fulfilling life that safe water could give her?

Nigeria’s water crisis is celebrated annually since 1993 with rehashed speeches of the World Water Day on March 22. Nigeria has enough water supplies, but in reality, only 19 percent of Nigerians has access to adequate drinking water, according to The Borgen Project, a non-profit organisation.

A 2021 UNICEF and World Health Organisation report states that 2.2 billion people around the world face daily water challenges. The burden of providing water for households falls more on women and girls, particularly in rural areas.

Water, a human right, is critical for human survival and development. A sufficient supply of biologically and chemically safe water is necessary for drinking and personal hygiene to prevent diarrheal diseases, trachoma, intestinal worm infections, stunted growth among children, Global Citizen noted in a report.

The UN General Assembly’s 28 July 2010 recognition of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation, HRWS, acknowledges that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to every person’s life. Experts say a human right to sanitation is connected to the human right to water, since the lack of sanitation reduces the quality of water downstream.

Earlier treaties like the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW, and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC, recognised the HRWS.

How do the conventions affect ordinary Nigerians? Their impact is minimal as that picture shows. The three levels of government – federal, state, local – have budgets for water. How is the water budget spent? What about the millions that international agencies, non-governmental organisations, private companies pour into water projects?

Vital as water is to human life, people living in poverty, with more limited access to safe water often pay more for lower quality water than wealthier people in areas with better infrastructure, UNESCO notes on the implications of low quality water and sanitation for child mortality and the general populace.

Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 (water and sanitation) by 2030 requires extraordinary dedications. The World Bank estimates that Nigeria would have to triple its budget or at least allocate 1.7 per cent of the current Gross Domestic Product to water, sanitation, and health. The rural areas have the greatest needs. Funding for water still remains weak.

Budget could be the least of the challenges. Implementation of programmes misses targets without consequences. It seems nobody is responsible for anything.

Fela by 1981 in Original Suffer Head sang about water, light, food, house deficits. He was urgent about water. He would not wait for the UN’s 1990 special water project for Nigeria and some countries. We have missed the targets in 1990 and 2010. Like in 1981 when Fela sang, the next target is nine years away.

Will Nigerians survive fetching water in this manner until 2030?

FINALLY…

IT seems someone is scared that if passports were available he would wake up one day to discover all Nigerians have migrated. The Nigeria Immigration Service should be commended for ensuring President Muhammadu Buhari’s passport never has issues. Hopefully, being President would not be a requirement for being President.

ELECTION matters matter. INEC announces dates for elections like clockwork because elections rule us. Anything else can wait.

“I WANT to assure you that we will break the strike and deal with the criminals, prosecute all those that have broken the law to the fullest extent and I assure you that they will never come back to the State again by the time we are done with them.” Which Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai court will banish Nigeria Labour Congress leaders from Kaduna State? Note the utterances of an elected civilian governor.

NIGERIAN Governors can easily unite on an increase in the price of fuel. They expect to get more allocations for their uses from the supposed savings. The same governors cannot agree on the dangers of open grazing.

.Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues

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