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Protect Water to Protect Life

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Protect Water to Protect Life

Stella Peters

Most people agree that water is life. Water is an element of the commons but crude capitalism has converted it into a commodity – this is the foundation of the many problems that threaten the world’s water. World Water Day is held yearly on the 22nd of March to draw awareness to the need to tackle the global existential water crises. Only 3% of the total water available on earth is fresh water, and only about half of this amount is accessible to us in the form of rivers, lakes, and groundwater – others are stored in other ways including ice and glaciers.

Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) in a statement made to celebrate World Water Day, believes that the world must wake up from the deep slumber and push for collective actions to save our freshwater and its ecosystems. Many people across the world are going through a lot of stress to access clean water, and some are forced to travel over long distances just to get a few liters of potable water. With the massive destruction of water bodies by mining, oil, and gas exploration and exploitation activities, dredging activities, and the development of infrastructure in critical freshwater ecosystems, it is imperative to call for the restoration of degraded water bodies and wetlands everywhere in Nigeria and by extension, Africa and globally.

HOMEF states that as the world marks World Water Day with the theme: Water for Peace, it is important to state that peace becomes a mirage in the absence of justice, while it calls for a realignment of our relationship to our water bodies including the oceans as zones of life and not zones for exploitative and polluting economic activities and the government must ensure that polluted waters and other destroyed environments are cleaned and restored.

The Executive Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) Nnimmo Bassey, stated that on World Water Day, it is important that our rivers, creeks, lagoons, and oceans are treated sanely and not seen as waste dumps. “This year’s theme, Water for Peace, shows the need to protect our water bodies with the understanding that lack of access to potable water is a harbinger of hunger and conflict. Valuing water must not be construed to mean that water can be commodified or privatized, but that the intrinsic value of this prime gift of Nature be respected and protected. “Water is not a commodity for privatization. We must treat our waters with respect because water is life and access to clean, the right to safe water to meet daily needs is a fundamental human right.”

Bassey further noted that “beyond our need to secure our potable water sources, our entire aquatic ecosystems must be secured to promote cultural practices, preserve knowledge and enhance livelihoods, especially for our fisher folks. Polluters must be adequately sanctioned. We must be mindful of the fact that plastics and toxic items dumped in our waters get eaten by fish and enter our food chain thereby endangering our own health. Water for peace should be a wake-up call to take responsibility for protecting our waterways and to oppose all forms of privatization of water.”

Coordinator of Fishnet Alliance, Stephen Oduware stated although that some international days have become rituals others like what we are marking should be taken with all seriousness. culminate into real actions that suggest seriousness. “While climate change can be blamed for droughts and related water crises faced in the world today, there has been direct interference with our water bodies causing pollution from the dumping of wastes and release of harmful chemicals from industries, including those in the petroleum sector, into our water bodies and intensify shortages of potable water. The intrinsic value of water cannot be over-emphasized because it is the basis of life forms on Earth.”

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