Today is World Water Day. Ironically, the larger strata that use – and misuse – this prized liquid will go about their businesses in all innocence today, quite oblivious of the big celebration. We see so much of water that we tend to take it for granted!
Last year, this writer, then serving as Commissioner for Rural Development, celebrated the World Water Day at the Women Development Centre where a range of activities had been lined up to mark the event.
Stakeholders used the occasion to reflect on water and life. I was particularly excited when members of Borehole Drillers Association of Nigeria (BODAN) in their presentations took pains to emphasise the need for quality control indices in water policy.
The theme of this year’s celebration is Water and Waste Water.
In order to prioritise the water sector, the Udom Emmanuel administration has structured an innovation in setting up the Bureau of Political, Legislative Affairs and Water Resources. The Bureau is working hard to energise Akwa Ibom Water Company to expand its services and to open up our rural areas to safe and adequate water. The Government is pursuing a quality-driven water policy. A regulatory framework is also under consideration.
It is said that water is life. Very well. But then, water can also be death – we patronise poor quality water at great risk. It was one of the concerns that encouraged this writer at the Ministry of Rural Development to initiate the landmark Akwa Ibom Rural Development Master Plan (AK-RDMP) with the water sector on the front burner. Admittedly, a lot remains to be done to give our people, especially rural dwellers, access to safe, adequate water. The water infrastructure has to be upgraded and preserved. The obligation is however not on government alone. Vandalisation of water facilities has been a huge disservice to humanity. We must join hands to protect infrastructure. Consumers should also be willing to pay for services rendered. How come that even our privileged ones rush to pay for electricity and turn a blind eye on water bills – water that nobody can do without?
As we draw lessons today, let us be re-dedicated to situate water as the pre-eminent peacemaker and neutraliser. Let us treat water with all the respect that it truly deserves.
Ekong Sampson is the Special Adviser to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State on Political, Legislative Affairs and Water Resources