In commemoration of the 2021 world water day, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF says no fewer than 26.5 million Nigerian children do not have enough water to meet their daily needs and are experiencing high or extremely high water vulnerability.
The statement further added that the new analysis released by UNICEF, one in five children worldwide lack to meet their everyday needs and that globally, more than 1.42 billion people –including 450 million children are living in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability.
Mr. Peter Hawkins, as quoted by the statement, says that communities living in these areas depend on surface water, unimproved sources of water, or water that can take more than 30 minutes to collect.
It added that “The world’s water crisis is not coming – it is here, and children are its biggest victims.
“When wells dry up, children are the ones missing school to fetch water. When droughts diminish food supplies, children suffer from malnutrition and stunting.
“When floods hit, children fall ill from waterborne illnesses. And when water is not available in Nigerian communities, children cannot wash their hands to fight off diseases.”
Data from UNICEF show that children in more than 80 countries live in areas with high or extremely high water vulnerability with Eastern and Southern Africa with the highest proportion.
It is followed by West and Central Africa (31 per cent), South Asia (25 per cent), and the Middle East (23 per cent).
Hawkins noted that in 2020, the Nigerian government and UNICEF released a WASH NORM survey which showed some progress, through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and its partners to strengthen the sector’s planning and monitoring.
According to him, the much more work needed to be done in the country was to ensure that all Nigerians have access to adequate and quality water and hygiene services.
The statement further reads, “Sustainable and equitable access to safe drinking water remains a challenge in Nigeria, with over 86 per cent of Nigerians lacking access to a safely managed drinking water source.
“The problem is compounded by poor drinking water quality and lack of equity in access. Although about 70 per cent of Nigerians are reported to have access to a basic water services, more than half of these water sources are contaminated.
“And although 73 per cent of the country’s population have access to a water source, only nine litres of water on average is available to a Nigerian daily.
“At the current rate, the country will miss the SDG targets on people’s access to water, unless there is a strong commitment and appropriate action taken by all stakeholders.
“We have to act now both to address the water crisis in Nigeria to prevent it from getting worse and if we want to meet the SDGs.
“We can only achieve water security for every Nigerian, including the Nigerian child through innovation, investment and collaboration, and by ensuring services are sustainable and well-managed, We must act for the sake of our children and our planet.”
Wikipaedia reports that World Water Day which should not be confused with world water monitoring day is an annual United Nations (UN) observance day which is usually held on 22 March. It highlights the importance of fresh water. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of fresh water resources.
The theme of each day focuses on topics relevant to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), which is in line with the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6. The UN World Water Development Report (WWDR) is released each year around World Water Day.
The theme for 2021 is “Valuing Water” and the public campaign invited people to join a global conversation.