With its vast population and diverse geography, Nigeria faces many challenges when providing essential services like healthcare and access to safe drinking water. This article delves into the critical need for developing a comprehensive welfare structure for Nigeria’s health sector, focusing on addressing the acute water crisis that plagues a significant portion of its population. About 60% of Nigeria’s populace resides in rural areas, where access to safe drinking water remains a paramount concern. Despite some improvements in urban areas, the issue of microbial contamination during water transportation persists, leading to a high prevalence of waterborne diseases, with women and girls suffering the most.
The Water Crisis in Nigeria
Access to clean and safe drinking water is a fundamental human right, yet it remains a distant dream for a large segment of Nigeria’s population. In 2016, there was a 64.1% increase in water supply provision in urban areas. However, this progress only extended to some Nigerians living in rural areas. Shockingly, 77.9% of the population in Nigeria still lacks access to safe drinking water, primarily due to microbial contamination during water transportation from the source to the point of use.
Relying on surface water sources such as rivers, lakes, wetlands, and the ocean is a stark reality for many Nigerians. Unfortunately, these water sources are unreliable and unsafe for consumption due to the presence of pollutants. This leads to dire consequences for the people who depend on them. Women and girls, in particular, bear the brunt of this crisis, spending over four hours a day searching for water from these contaminated sources.
The Impacts on Health And The Ongoing Conflict
The lack of access to safe drinking water and hygienic sanitation facilities has severe health implications. Every year, an estimated 124,000 children under five die in Nigeria due to diarrhea caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene. This alarming statistic underscores the urgent need for intervention.
Furthermore, the absence of adequate water and sanitation also contributes significantly to other diseases, including respiratory infections and undernutrition. These health challenges disproportionately affect children, women, and vulnerable populations, pushing them further into poverty and ill health. Therefore, addressing the water crisis in Nigeria is not just a matter of providing a basic necessity but a means to uplift the overall health and well-being of the nation.
In addition to the water crisis, Nigeria has been grappling with rising conflicts and insecurity, particularly in regions affected by Boko Haram and other armed groups. This ongoing conflict has created a dire humanitarian situation, leaving approximately 1.4 million children at imminent risk of death each year. These children are particularly vulnerable to diseases such as cholera and measles, which can induce severe diarrhea and dehydration, exacerbating the critical health challenges.
The Intersection of Climate Change And The lack of a welfare structure
Climate change adds another layer of complexity to Nigeria’s struggle to provide safe drinking water. The impacts of climate change, including erratic weather patterns and extreme events, make access to safe drinking water even more challenging. With the changing climate, there is a pressing need for climate-resilient technologies and infrastructure to ensure a continuous and safe water supply.
Nigeria, as a low-income country, faces significant challenges in developing a robust welfare system that can provide for the basic needs of its people. Historical issues, including poor leadership, post-colonial legacies, and a lack of good governance, have contributed to the absence of a comprehensive welfare structure. This absence leaves the poor and vulnerable in constant deprivation and ill health. The water crisis and climate change, which are beyond the control of the Nigerian people, further exacerbate these challenges.
The Need for Global Support
It is imperative to recognize that climate change is a global challenge that affects all countries, regardless of their level of development. However, in low-income countries like Nigeria, the impact of climate change is particularly severe. The effects of climate change –increased temperatures, more frequent and extreme weather events, and changing rainfall patterns, can have far-reaching consequences on the environment, economy, and social well-being of the people.
Access to safe drinking water is a basic human need, and climate change can disrupt the fragile balance of water resources in many regions. Extended droughts, erratic rainfall, and increased evaporation rates can deplete water sources, making them scarcer and more vulnerable to contamination. As a result, ensuring access to safe and clean water becomes even more challenging, especially in rural areas where resources are already limited.
Nigeria, like many other developing countries, requires genuine and focused global support to address the multiple crises it faces, particularly the water crisis and the impacts of climate change. A multi-faceted approach is necessary to combat these challenges effectively, involving collaboration between the government, non-governmental organizations, international partners, and the local community.
Developing a Comprehensive Welfare Structure
To address these critical issues, Nigeria needs to develop a comprehensive welfare structure that encompasses the following key elements:
- Water Infrastructure Development: Significant investments in water infrastructure are needed to provide safe drinking water to rural and urban areas. This includes the rehabilitation and expansion of water treatment plants, the construction of water distribution networks, and the implementation of water quality monitoring systems.
- Education and Awareness: Public awareness campaigns are essential to educate the population on safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene practices. This includes teaching people how to treat and store water at the household level to prevent contamination.
- Climate Resilient Technologies: Given the challenges posed by climate change, it is crucial to invest in climate-resilient technologies for water supply and sanitation. This includes rainwater harvesting systems, groundwater recharge facilities, and improved water storage solutions.
- Healthcare Services: Alongside water infrastructure improvements, healthcare services need to be strengthened, particularly in rural areas. Access to medical facilities and trained healthcare workers is essential to address the health consequences of the water crisis.
- Government Policies and Regulations: Effective policies and regulations are needed to govern water resource management and protect water sources from pollution and contamination. Additionally, policies that promote the use of clean and renewable energy sources can mitigate the impacts of climate change.
- Community Participation: Involving local communities in decision-making and project implementation is crucial for the success of any initiative. Communities should be empowered to take ownership of water supply systems and sanitation facilities.
- Local and International Collaborations: Nigeria should seek public-private partnerships, local and international collaborations, and support from organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and non-governmental organizations with expertise in water and climate-related issues.
The water crisis in Nigeria is a multi-faceted issue that has far-reaching consequences for the health and well-being of the population, particularly women and children. The intersecting challenges of conflict and climate change only compound this problem. To address these challenges effectively, Nigeria needs a comprehensive welfare structure prioritizing access to safe drinking water, healthcare services, and climate-resilient technologies.
Climate change is a global threat, and Nigeria, like many other developing countries, is disproportionately affected by its impacts. The international community must provide focused support and work collaboratively with Nigeria to combat these challenges. With a genuine commitment to addressing the water crisis and its links to climate change, Nigeria may withstand the far-reaching effects of these interrelated crises.
Severe wasting: An overlooked child survival emergency Retrieve on Oct 27, 2023 from https://www.unicef.org/media/120346/file/Wasting%20child%20alert.pdf
Addressing Africa’s Water Insecurity Retrieve on Oct 27, 2023 from environbuzz.com/addressing-africas-water-insecurity/
Building Resilience Social Welfare Systems Retrieve on Oct 27, 2023 from environbuzz.com/building-resilience-social-welfare-systems/
Nigeria’s Unsafe Water Consumption A Serious Environmental And Health Issue Retrieve on Oct 27, 2023 from environbuzz.com/nigerias-unsafe-water-consumption-a-serious-environmental-and-health-issue/
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