The child dying of cholera because her hygiene was compromised by severe water scarcity surely knows that in Nigeria, the basics are at a premium. So does the child who has to trek miles to fetch water to wash himself before trekking miles to school on an empty stomach to sit in a classroom that has neither chairs nor windows.

Water has always been one of man`s most important resources and for good reasons. Man needs water to drink, to wash, to cook and for industrial purposes. The value of water to man was strongly emphasized by the Covid-19 pandemic which caught many African countries cold, harshly highlighting the severe shortage of water large families in large rural areas have to grapple with. In short, water is life.

If water is life, why do so many Nigerians in the rural areas as well as large cities have to live with severe shortage of clean water for domestic and industrial use? What is the government`s policy on water, and just how many drops of water have the ponderous bureaucracy of the various ministries of water resources across the country been able to provide to Nigeria`s poorest families?

For many Nigerians, water is liquid gold and has become increasingly difficult to come by in usable quantities. When people do not have enough water to drink, do their meals and wash themselves, life becomes a lot more difficult.

In the rural areas for example, the lack of easy access to clean water weaves itself into a treacherous tapestry that includes lack of power supply, poor roads, poor healthcare, abject poverty and a striking absence of economic opportunities. To escape this stranglehold, many flock to the cities, fueling rural-urban migration, where they find that many young people already in the cities are desperate to flee the country entirely.

In the cities, the men of the water board are feverish with the frenzy of ants. They move around peddling bills and threats of disconnection, and at the slightest sign of trouble, they disconnect Nigerians from water supply because somehow, disconnection gives them just more opportunities to make extra money.

Just as with many other bills imposed on Nigerians for essential services, water bills are usually bloated with extortion capriciously masked by convoluted calculations. When citizens demand some explanation for how the sums were arrived at, they are usually given short shrift by the irritable agents of these agencies. So, they are either forced to pay the extortionate amounts or face disconnection with Nigeria`s extremely ponderous legal system dissuading would-be litigants.

Is clean water especially for domestic use too big a demand on Nigerian authorities? Every now and then, grim statistics are loosened upon horrified Nigerians about the deaths cholera visits on children and their families. How can cholera not thrive when there is no water to facilitate good hygiene practices?

In 2020, as the corona virus approached the country having had its fill of disease and death in many parts of the world, Nigerian lips trembled with questions about how the country was going to cope. Having followed the virus`s devastating journey through western capitals with efficient healthcare systems and adequate water resources, Nigerians wondered aloud how the country was going to find enough water to preventively wash enough hands to keep the virus at bay. Thankfully, the country, and indeed the rest of Africa where so many families have so little water for use, was somehow spared the worst assaults of the virus.

Water is life. It is not for nothing that it is called the liquid gold. Poverty has a darkly humorous way of stripping life down to the bare bones and denying large families of adequate enjoyment of the basic things of life.

However, as Nigerians continue to experience a drought of good governance at all levels, those in charge must make conscious efforts to ensure that every household has enough safe water for domestic use. If this is done, children may just be kept out of the reach of killer diseases.

Kene Obiezu,

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