One substance whose availability has been most misrepresented in the universe is water. People would always think water, in all circumstances, is more available than it is needed.
How wrong! Roughly 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies globally; approximately one in eight people; 3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease; the water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
People living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per litre of water than wealthy people living in the same city. So, just because one lives in the city and it is usually not a big deal to get a relatively clean sachet of water does not make it cheap in the actual sense.
What really makes the scarcity of fresh water more serious is the fact that not only humans depend on it; animals and plants also need it solely for survival.
Water for Food Security
The United Nations Secretary General Dr. Ban Ki-moon said unless people use water wisely in agriculture, there would be no end yet to hunger and doors would be opened to drought, famine and political instability.
KI-Moon was represented at this year's World Water Day Celebration with the theme: 'Water and Food Security', celebrated in the Federal Capital Territory, by the Country representative, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Dr. Louise Setshwaelo.
He disclosed that about one billion people are hungry with over 800 million still lacking a safe supply of freshwater.
The UN Secretary General noted that in the coming decades, feeding a growing global population and ensuring food and nutrition security for all would depend on increasing food production; adding that it also meant that "ensuring sustainable use of our most critical finite water resources was the key.
"In many parts of the world, water scarcity is increasing and rates of growth in agricultural production have been slowing. At the same time, climate change is exacerbating risk and unpredictability for farmers, especially for poor farmers in low-income countries who are the most vulnerable and the least able to adapt," he said.
He stressed that guaranteeing sustainable food and water security for all will require the full engagement of all sectors and actors, adding that it will also entail transferring appropriate water technologies, empowering small food producers and conserving essential ecosystem services.
According to Ki-moon, "It will require policies that promote water rights for all, stronger regulatory capacity and gender equality. Investments in water infrastructure, rural development and water resources management will be essential.
"We should be encouraged by the renewed political interest in food security, as evidence by the high priority given to this issue by the agendas of the G8 and G20, the emphasis on the nexus of food, water and energy in the report of my Global Sustainability Panel and the growing number of countries pledging to scale up nutrition," he added.
He therefore enjoined all partners to fully use the opportunity provided by the Rio-20 UN conference on standard development.
"In Rio, we need to connect the dots between water security and food and nutrition security in the context of a green economy. Water will play a central role in creating the future we want", stated the UN Secretary General.
NBC Water Efforts
Nigeria Bottling Company, which was a key sponsor of the World Water Day celebration in Abuja, explained that with its products containing about 8 per cent of water, it had since began to give critical attention to the management and sustainable use of water.
Giving the company's statement for 2012 Water Day celebration, Managing Director of NBC, Segun Ogunsanya, said; "In targeting water access and promoting water security, NBC is fundamentally supporting the long-term socio-economic development of Nigeria and the sub-region.
"Access to safe water contributes to healthy communities, unleashing the power of entrepreneurs and assuring vibrant and productive local economies. When our communities are sustainable, we are successful as a business," he added.
Director for Communication of NBC, Mrs. Yanju Olomola, in her presentation at the event, stressed that the company has seven sustainability pillars including energy and climate protection; packaging and recycling; consumer health; employee development; supplier engagement; community involvement; and water stewardship, which was the purpose for its serious participation in the Water Day event.
Olomola who was represented by the Public Affairs Manager, Northern Operations of the NBC, Odenigbo Uzo stressed; "Our 'Water Stewardship' approach is integrated and cuts across community investments and sustainability initiatives. Our Approach is driven by our 3R strategy of Reduce, Recycle and Replenish"
She said since 2004, the company began setting annual Water Use Reduction (WUR)
targets to reduce the volume of water consumed in NBC operations by investing in water-saving technologies to control water use and also recycle waste water in some stages of the production process for less-stringent house-keeping tasks. To date, according to Olomola, NBC has achieved a 52.5 per cent reduction.
In pursuit of the company's water recycling objective, Olomola said, all 13 NBC bottling plants have fully functional on-site Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTPs). "These plants ensure that waste water from our bottling operations are recycled and discharged back to the environment at a level that supports aquatic life and agriculture", she added.
On the replenishment prong of the company's sustainable water management activities, the Communication's Director said they provided potable water for over 15 communities within Nigeria, benefitting over 100,000 persons across the country in recent years.
"We are also funding partner of the recently launched Safe Water for Africa (SWA) partnership. An initiative with the target to provide sustainable access to water for five (5) million Africans by 2015," she said.
Federal Govt Too
In her address, Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe, noted that although Nigeria was blessed abundantly with surface and underground water resources, the uneven spatial and temporal distribution and the imbalance in natural supplies and demand pose considerable challenges to water resources planners and managers.
"It is therefore imperative that whatever water is harnessed should be efficiently and wisely managed and utilised. Successive governments in Nigeria have made considerable investments to improve access to adequate and safe water supplies for domestic, agricultural, recreations, industrial and general environmental uses", the minister said.
Ochekpe named the challenges facing the sector as shortage of water in urban and rural areas, competing water uses, underutilised irrigation potential, degrading water-sheds and water courses, fragmented and uncoordinated water and land resources development and management, dearth of hydrological data, lack of cooperation in the use of national and international waters.
The minister, however, said all these problems were surmountable with the establishment of Africa Water Vision for 2025, and NEPAD's equitable, sustainable use and management of Africa water resources.
"At international level, Nigeria is also at the fulcrum of efforts against global water crisis and scarcity in many fronts through the equitable and sustainable development of trans-boundary waters.
"Under the auspices of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, Nigeria is championing the cause for the resuscitation of the Lake Chad Basin through a project of Inter Basin Water Transfer from Oubongul in the Congo Basin to Lake Chad. Nigeria also plays the leading role in the activities of the Niger Basin Authority", she added.
Written by Crusoe Osagie Published by All Africa