Access to clean and safe drinking water is a fundamental human right, unfortunately, this right is not enjoyed by thousands of people in Lokoja, the confluence city of Kogi State. The unavailability of portable water is a significant challenge that affects the health and well-being of individuals and communities within the state.
Recognizing the need for continued efforts to address the global water crisis, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, which include a target to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. This target aims to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.
The unavailability of portable water is a major issue in many parts of Kogi State, particularly in the developing townships of Lokoja and environs. This challenge is caused by a lack of a functional infrastructure and poor water administration.
While the Greater Lokoja Water project was conceptualized to tap into the opportunity of the existing confluence of the River Benue and River Niger in Lokoja,the project was commissioned in 2011 with a functional purification plant, as well as two high pool tanks –having a combined water storage capacity of 13,000 cubic meters. The projecthas an established compressor station and over 20 kilometres of ductile pipe.
The relief afforded by the infrastructure’s smooth operation was disrupted by the flooding that impeded the Greater Lokoja Water project in 2022. While natural disasters are inevitable, they can be effectively managed. Unfortunately, the management of the Kogi State Water Board, who are responsible for operating the Greater Lokoja Water project has failed to do so. As a result, the citizens of Lokoja face persistent water scarcity despite the presence of the gift of the confluence of River Niger and River Benue, in Lokoja. The paradox of a lack of portable water despite the presence of multiple water sources is one that needs action from the respective authorities.
It is noteworthy that inability to access potable waterforces citizens to drink water from other sources, which can lead to a range of health problems.Contaminated water contains harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemicals that can cause water-borne illnesses, like cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, and hepatitis. These illnesses are fatal, especially for children, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems. Even mild cases of waterborne illnesses causediarrhoea, vomiting, dehydration, and other symptoms that weaken the body and affect the overall health and well-being of individuals.
The unavailability of portable water also has a significant impact on hygiene and sanitation. Without access to clean water, people cannot properly take of themselves or their living spaces. This leads to an unhealthy living environment. Worse still, women and girls are particularly affected by the unavailability of portable water because they are responsible for collecting water for their families. This task can take up a significant amount of time and energy, and it often means that girls cannot attend school or pursue other productive activities, while exposing them to danger.
The lack of portable water has a long-term impact on the health and well-being of communities.Research shows that exposure to contaminated water leads to developmental delays, stunted growth, and cognitive impairment in children. In addition, the economic impact of water scarcity can be significant, particularly for people who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. Without access to water, crops failand food shortages can occur, leading to malnutrition and hunger.
In conclusion, the unavailability of portable water in Lokoja and its environs is a significant problem that has far-reaching impact on the health and well-being of individuals and communities. It is a human need to have access to clean and safe drinking waterand efforts must be made to address this issue. Governments (both state and local), whose onus it is to provide basic amenities should seek a sustainable end to the perennial water scarcity within the Lokoja metropolis.
By acting to address the unavailability of portable water, Government will be seen to improve the health and well-being of thousands of Kogi citizens who have been deprived of this basic human need for so long.
– Engr. Michael Oyibo