Access to safe drinking water remains a challenge to majority of Nigerians, especially those living in the rural areas. The recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by the government of Nigeria in 2016/17, indicated that about 40 per cent of households and about 69 million people do not have access to clean water sources.
In the rural areas, 19 million people walk long distances to collect unsafe water from lakes, streams and rivers.
Children without access to safe water are more likely to die in infancy and throughout childhood from water-borne diseases. Diarrhoea remains the leading cause of death among children under ﬁve years of age in Nigeria.
Waterborne diseases also contribute to stunting. A stunted child is shorter than he or she could have been, and will never be able to reach his or her full cognitive potential. Lack of safe water and sanitation also make children vulnerable to other threats beyond health. Many children in rural areas spend several hours daily collecting water, missing out on the opportunity to go to school.
According to UNICEF, for Nigeria to achieve the global goal of providing access to safe water for every citizen by 2030, stakeholders need to make water, together with sanitation and hygiene, a national priority. This goal is closely linked with three key results for the country-good health, environment sustainability and economic prosperity.
It is time all stakeholders get involved. Community leaders, social workers, youth led organizations, youth themselves and join hand together with local, state and federal government to improve livelihoods of people in rural communities through advocacy, awareness creation and provision of infrastructures such as construction of borehole water close to people, building of toilets, incinerators and increased sustainable WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) projects in rural communities.