In Nigeria, more than 70 million people do not have access to safe drinking water, more than 110 million do not have access to proper sanitation, and 124,000 children under the age of five die every year from waterborne diseases such as diarrhea. Despite the circumstances, there have been steps towards improvements in Nigeria’s water quality.
Effects of Unsafe Water Are Far-Reaching
Unsafe drinking water can cause many health problems, from cognitive deficits and malnutrition to respiratory disease. These consequences do not stop here; children miss school and adults miss work, creating further social problems for the population. According to UNICEF, women and girls in Nigeria are affected more often than men due to the fact that in Nigeria, women are the main carriers of water. The distances that women need to travel to collect and carry the water is vast, and this can have large effects on health and quality of life for these individuals.
Rural areas struggle to access safe drinking water even more than urban areas. Nigeria’s population is rapidly increasing. Within one decade, Nigeria saw a population increase of approximately 60 million people. Water infrastructure is overloaded, rural populations are being cut off, and without funding, water infrastructure in Nigeria is unable to support the population without substantial and prompt upgrades.
Government Unveils New Water Quality Standards
But not all is bleak. Vast improvements in Nigeria’s water quality have been made. Africa’s biggest economy released a plan in March 2018 that outlined standards for water quality in the nation. In conjunction with foreign aid, steps have been taken to improve its water quality. The Nigerian government has established a Nigerian Standard for Drinking Water Quality that is based on a collaborative multi-agency approach in order to get the perspective of many different stakeholders. Some of the standards in this plan include limits on hazardous water contaminants and national guidelines for mandatory limits that designate safe water.
The Water and Sanitation Program, a subset of the World Bank Group’s Water Global Practice, identified that the main challenge to financing a proper safe water supply is a lack of funding. This is where foreign aid comes in. Organizations such as UNICEF are bringing in foreign aid to support water goals and implementing educational programs to help the Nigerian population identify and cultivate safe drinking water.
Past Decade Has Seen Improvements in Nigeria’s Water Quality
Are these campaigns and goals working? From 2010 until 2015, the WHO estimates that consistent access to safely managed drinking water has risen from 17 percent to 19 percent. In the same timeframe, data shows that the percentage of Nigerians with access to at least basic safe drinking water has risen from 46 percent to 67 percent. Growth is occurring and hopefully will continue due to the efforts of both the Nigerian government and foreign aid collaborators.
These improvements in Nigeria’s water quality could have further widespread effects on the Nigerian population. The Nigerian minister of water resources, Suleiman Adamu, said that waterborne diseases are a huge burden on national health care delivery. These improvements in Nigerian water quality could influence improvements in other areas, such as healthcare in the region.
There is hope on the horizon, and while there is still a problem, there is also an opportunity for growth and improvement. Nigeria is moving towards a better tomorrow.
– Katherine Kirker