By Simon Mone
They say that access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene is a human right.
Yes. It should be the case but onemoment of thought about the number of people that still have to scour the low-lying areas for spring waters baffles.
Many communities, even the urban ones are still faced with the challenge of accessing this basic right. It is a world-wide challenge. Communities are dependent on water whose quality is wanting. We are talking about streams and rivers which are occasionally shared with livestock.
On whether the water is well treated is a guess for all of us. But the recurrent cases of water-borne illnesses are an indicator of water contamination. The sources of contamination are various, especially with faecal material.
When you look around, at sanitation and hygiene practices, then you are tempted to conclude the thing about faecal substances being a big source of contaminant. This includes open human waste disposal and setting up latrines at locations which make contamination with water highly likely.
Also, a good percentage of wastewater resulting from human and industrial activities is discharged into low-lying areas: rivers, swamps and lakes in its raw form, hence contamination of the waters. All these combined; increase the chances of falling sick.
It is why water and sanitation-related diseases remain among the major causes of death. So as we commemorate WWD, we know that water scarcity continues to affect many populations globally.
The bad news is that the global population is projected to continue its upward rise. So we keep pushing for proper water and sanitation practices as this is vital in attaining goal 6 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) timeline.
By managing our waters sustainably, a lot of things will fall in our favour. We will also be able to better manage production of food. But at the basic level, in the rural communities; the town suburbs, we need to begin to walk a simple talk.
We ought to get our work started. What would it cost to get the simple steps up and running? Responsibility in this is two-fold. The first part is the infrastructure. Water infrastructure is being delivered, thanks to National Water and Sewerage Corporation.
NWSC continues to do a tremendous job in expanding water supply coverage from the municipalities to the smaller towns. It is a fact that geographical coverage of water utility increased from 23 to 98 towns, providing many more population with access. This is a big responsibility.
Without better infrastructure and management, we cannot talk a lot about sustainable coverage of water and also sanitation. So as the water infrastructure is being put in place, including all the research and development, and things that come with it, this calls us to play our part.
And so on our part, how we (water consumers), come in. At the consumer level, we can support government efforts. One thing is to stop vandalising water infrastructure and systems. Then things will function long-term.
Only until this is prevailing, shall we begin to talk about adequate water supply. We also have to pay the water bills promptly and avoid defaulting in order to ease planning for the provision of these facilities and services. Water is a dear resource; it supports life and our environment.
If jealously managed, can be a boost for economic growth. It can lessen poverty and lift us out of drought. Inadequate water quantity and quality can however, limit all of these expectations. And thus, give rise; poor health, food insecurity and all.
Therefore, in order to assure ourselves of clean water access, we shouldn’t only think the job is for the water professionals. We have a big part to play.
So despite all the shortcomings, let’s recognise the relentless effort by NWSC to move us closer to goal 6 of the SDGs.
Writer has an interest in humanitarian development