Nigeria News

Nigeria News

ANALYSIS: When Water Becomes Poison

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Nigeria News takes a look at the lack of potable water as the World marks Water Day on Friday.

Water is life. We drink and use it to have a bath. Water has no enemy, so the late Afro music legend Fela Anikulapo sang. Water, in its natural state is the purest of all solvents. It has insipid taste, colourless and odourless.

When it rains, plants rejoice in the bush, animals jubilate because the flow of water brings life as it serves as the medium of digestion for foods taken by man. It contains Hydrogen and oxygen needed by plants to produce glucose. That is what water does.

However, as the world marks World Water Day on March 22, what ran through my mind was how safe are the waters we drink? With this year’s theme, “Leaving no one behind” it becomes necessary for government at all levels to provide potable water for the citizenry.

So, the question of which is a safe water among the sachet, bottled, pipe-borne and borehole. One could remember those days when government was efficient with pipe-borne water provided for members of the public.

The treated water flowed to various homes. For members of the public that could not pay water bill, government ensured a regular provision through public taps.

This has since become a thing of the past. Almost every house in Lagos has dug borehole, which is a new problem the government is battling with now. This trend is affecting the topography of the land and also has health implications.

The State government is of the view that the underground waters flow from house to house and because most boreholes are dug close to soak away and septic tanks, there is high organic contents from excreta that get mixed with the underground water.

Invariably, water from borehole contains organic matter, which are poisonous to the body when taken regularly.

It becomes worrisome when houses with boreholes now commercialize the untreated water. It started with what they called, “Ice water”. This had no identification label or NAFDAC number. The seller poured the water directly from the borehole into nylon and put in the refrigerator. To many of their customers, if it was cold, it was safe.

Consequently, the water corporation became dysfunctional. Many of the workers who retired from there went into private sachet water production but with regulation by NAFDAC. As at today, there are thousands of sachet water factories without NAFDAC approval. What they sell is sachet water direct from well and borehole.

This has contributed immensely to the rate of water-borne disease across the country. The business of potable water has grown from sachet packaging to bottled water and now to dispenser.

We gulp water in the traffic without looking at the manufacturer or if it has NAFDAC approval. Many do not trust the pipe-borne water anymore. They complain it contains too much of chlorine, forgetting that the water from borehole also contains too much of organic matter.

Water, which is supposed to be the safest drink has become poison for many. It has landed millions in hospitals and graveyard.

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