Nigeria’s Unsafe Water Consumption: A Serious Environmental and Health Issue

The environmental and health impacts emanating from unsafe water consumption in Nigeria is disturbing. Drinking water sources are highly contaminated by pathogenic micro-organisms. This is due to varying factors, which include high open defecation rates in many areas and an inefficient water distribution network that results in contaminated water being supplied to communities. As a result a prevalence of waterborne diseases is being experienced all over the nation.

For the past 10 months, cholera has ravaged communities in many states. A recent article in Vanguard News dated September 9, 2018, reported that Nigeria may be battling the largest outbreak of cholera. This is barely a month after the Nigerian Centre for Disease, NCDC, said it had contained the outbreak. The article stated that 18 out of 36 states are currently being affected by cholera. 434 people have died and there have been 23,893 cases recorded between January and August 2018.

Guaranteeing the microbiological safety of drinking water is of paramount importance all over the world and every government strives to ensure that its people have access to safe drinking water. According to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Nigeria, provision of water supply to communities increased by 64.1% in 2016, but water quality remains highly compromised during transportation from source (community water systems) to point of use, and because of this, only 22.1% of the population have access to safe drinking water. This implies that in a country of about 180,000,000 people, 140,220,000 people do not have access to safe drinking water.

Nigerians battle various waterborne illnesses daily using medications, and these medications have their side effects. The Nigerian governments rely on international NGOs like UNICEF to help them deal with health and environmental issues. The international NGOs that help in countries like Nigeria deal with these issues lean towards the use of chlorine and iodine tablets for emergency response. These chemical elements when taken in high doses are also detrimental to health and therefore, following the specified dosage is very important. More sustainable methods in relation to prevention and control is needed.

With water being contaminated at water sources and during transportation from water systems to point of use, new methods of improving water at point of use need to be provided whilst the Government is finding more effective ways of distributing clean and safe water to Nigerians. One current available method that can address safe water issues at point of use is the lifestraw technology and this should be reviewed as an option. Lifestraw is already being used successfully in different parts of the world as a way to provide communities with instant safe drinking water without the use of chemicals and no repeat intervention. It requires little or no maintenance considering the maintenance culture in a country like Nigeria is poor. Lifestraw can be used for emergency response and for prevention.

There is a lot of immediate help the use of LifeStraw can offer the people and communities. EnvironFocus is looking forward to working with government, non-profits, charities, community groups, local corporates (B2B) and individuals to provide communities with safe drinking water. Partnerships with organizations outside Nigeria interested in assisting poor communities obtain safe drinking water as a corporate social responsibility(CSR) or a non-profit initiative is also welcomed. For more information about lifeStraw products and how to access them in Nigeria click here. For more information on how you can provide a child, family, school, village or community with access to safe drinking water click here.

Lets do this together!


434 Dead, 23,893 Cases recorded: Cholera raging like bush fire in 18 states!

Status of Water Sanitation and Hygiene in Nigeria 2018 by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources

Obie Agusiegbe
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