1.8bn people exposed to unsafe water sources, says UNICEF

Enugu, March 23, 2017 (TNE): The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says no fewer than 1.8 billion people globally are at risk of contracting cholera for drinking water contaminated with faeces.

Mr Amose Kudzala, the officer-in-charge of Enugu Field Office of UNICEF, said this on Wednesday in Enugu at the 2017 World Water Day celebration.

Kudzala said that exposure and usage of contaminated water had become a major health challenge, adding that fresh water constituted only three per cent of the people’s water sources.

”Fresh water constitutes just three per cent of overall water used across the world. In Nigeria, however, we are blessed with good sources of water,” he said.

The UNICEF official said that more than 80 per cent of waste water generated by society usually flowed back into the ecosystem without any kind of treatment

He said that more than 842,000 deaths occurred from the usage of unsafe water or poor sanitation every year.

Kudzala said that UNICEF and other relevant organisations were concerned with specific actions that would improve the collection and treatment of waste water.

He said that safely managed waste water was an affordable and sustainable source of potable water.

He explained that water and sanitation were human rights issues which should be recognised as such.

He said that the usage of safe and improved water sources was very important to the UN, as it was the focus of Goal Six of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Kudzala said that purposeful water resource management would mitigate the impact of climate change and variability.

He underscored the need to treat water, particularly water from uncertain sources.

In a goodwill message, Mr Okenwa Omeje, the General Manager of Enugu State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (ENRUWASSA), said that the issue of water usage necessitated a positive behaviour change.

Omeje said that the vision of ENRUWASSA was to provide adequate potable water, while improving the sanitation of rural communities.

He expressed the agency’s gratitude to donor agencies for their assistance and urged them to step up their interventions in support of the state government’s efforts.

Omeje said that the state government had demonstrated the willpower to ensure that residents of the state had access to potable water.

Meanwhile, Mrs Elizabeth Achuagu, the Coordinator of Media Network on Water Aid, has called on the government at all levels to redouble its efforts to provide potable for the people.

Achuagu said that the call had become imperative as part of efforts to attain the sixth goal of the SDGs which related to improvement of water, health and sanitation.

She noted that many rural communities still lacked access to potable water, while residents of rural communities were often plagued by water-related diseases.

Achuagu underscored the need to sensitise the citizens to the dangers of dumping refuse in water sources like rivers and streams, saying that this was the usual practice in many rural communities.

The theme of the 2017 World Water Day is: “Why Waste Water”. (TNE)

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