Can we survive two years of drought?

The need to allocate and use water in an efficient, sustainable and equitable manner is fundamental to sustainable development. The section 6.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aims at achieving universal and equitable access to safe water for all. Everyone needs water but about 780 million people globally have no access to it. The resource is crucial to life and enhances economic growth and job creation.  It is germane to peace, security, human dignity and development. Lack of water exposes people to domestic violence, diseases, and stress. It serves multiple purposes which creates conflicting interests.

The UNESCO third World Water Development Report predicted that nearly half of humanity will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030. In recognition of this challenge, the UNGA designated March 22, as “World Water Day”.  This year, another opportunity is provided to sensitise all governments, stakeholders, corporate and individual citizens to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocate for its sustainable management and improvement towards accessing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in developing countries.

Some countries are naturally water scarce while some are water surplus. Nigeria has some networks of rivers, streams and dams which have not been successfully tapped to make it accessible to people.  Due to the foregoing, Nigeria has been classified as a water deficit country and because only 47 per cent of its population has access to improved water source. Nigeria ranks among the top five countries globally who have large numbers of people without access to safe water and improved sanitation.

Rainfall, which is the principal source of fresh water, is being distorted because climate change has caused extreme events of drought or flood which makes water to become scarce in quality and quantity.  The concern of United Nations is the confirmed evidences that precipitation has become irregular; lakes, wells, and streams are equally drying up. There has been depletion of water table including the aquifer. The fact that fresh water is becoming scarce is viewed to be a source of tension, conflict, food insecurity and loss of livelihood in the nearest future.

Drought is a natural phenomenon of climate change resulting in prolonged shortages in water resource; either surface or groundwater. Rainfall is the first trigger in the assessment of drought, including reduction in river flows, slow groundwater recharge; low soil moisture, limited reservoir storage, scarcity of water and food supplies. Drought causes hunger as a result of crop destruction. It impacts on human development, quality of life, loss of lives, livelihoods, health, environmental refugee or displacement.

In conclusion, judging the situation globally, we need to plan against drought and flood in our nation by government’s efforts in monitoring and mobilising resources for effective response and harmonious relationship among stakeholders which are: governments, basin authorities, aquifer authorities and community water user associations, with the help of relevant policies, laws and effective planning for operations of IWRM in our communities.

Enabling environment, institutional framework, management instrument and financings are essential in establishing integrated water resource management. Sensitisation of the general public on tree planting, and other issues of preventions, preparedness, response, and recovery programmes against drought are very essential.

Fashona, Esther Folake (Ph.D)