In commemoration of this year’s World Water Day with the theme, “Valuing water,” to raise awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water globally, the Institute of Church and Society with its partner, the World Council of Churches, through its unit, the Ecumenical Water Network, is set to undergo seven weeks on water with weekly reflections on the importance of water and advocacy that help people out of lack of water and ensure that water is delisted as a total commercial commodity.
The institute is focusing its activities to support the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030 and according to Very Rev. O. Kolade Fadahunsi, the director, Institute of Church and Society, it is important to ensure that all have access to safe water throughout Nigeria by 2030.
“The experience of households during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown was harrowing. We are focusing on different values of water, a conversation has been arranged with two local communities of Samonda and Agbowo in Ibadan, the religious communities of Hassan Odukale Theological Institute, Immanuel College of Theology and Diocese of Elekuro, Methodist Church Nigeria on what water means to them, how is water important to their homes and families life, their livelihood, wellbeing, and their local environment?
“The aim is to understand how people value water – whether it is economically, socially, culturally or in other ways – how it plays a role in their lives. A compilation of responses will be presented to Oyo State Ministry of Water and Environment for government intervention in the Water sector. Water means different things to different people. Unfortunately, in today’s market-driven trend, the economic value of water supersedes the spiritual and ethical values of water. As church and faith-based organisations, it is our moral imperative to ensure that water for life gets the priority over water for profit,” Very Rev. Fadahunsi said.
He explained further that recently water was listed on the wall streets for the future water market as a tradable commodity like oil and gold, adding that those who have the money can buy the water and control the access and tariff which can jeopardise the human right to water from the poor, marginalised and vulnerable communities, including the smallholding farmers.
“The idea for this international day goes back to 1992, the year in which the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro took place. That same year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution by which 22 March of each year was declared World Day for Water, to be observed starting in 1993. In Nigeria, the shortage of safe water supply in the country was recently admitted by the Minister of Finance, National Planning and Budget, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, at a meeting of the Africa’s Finance Ministers’ Ahmed told participants that “access to clean water in Nigeria is still a daily challenge for many of our people.
“This problem is acute as it contributes to the very high prevalence of water-borne diseases and threatens lives and livelihood especially of small-holder farmers. Though the Federal Government of Nigeria declared a state of emergency on water sector since November 2018, yet little or no compliance is seen across the states and local governments in the country.
This year’s theme, Valuing Water, reiterates that value of water is about much more than its price – water has enormous and complex value for our households, food, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment. If we overlook any of these values, we risk mismanaging this finite, irreplaceable resource. SDG 6 is to ensure water and sanitation for all. Without a comprehensive understanding of water’s true, multidimensional value, we will be unable to safeguard this critical resource for the benefit of everyone,” he concluded.
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