By Fred Doc Nwaozor
Water is a clear, colourless and transparent liquid that has no taste or smell, and is required for the survival of all plant and animal lives. In the same vein, a large amount or area of either natural or manmade water such as lake, pond, pool, river, sea, ocean, and so on, can be referred to as water or waters.
Like the human body, water which is usually addressed as a ‘universal liquid’, is made up of a skeleton of water molecules. The said molecules make up the water we use..Not unlike any other chemical compound in existence, a water molecule comprises one molecule of Hydrogen and one molecule of Oxygen. Thus, water as a substance is made up of two major elements namely, hydrogen and oxygen. Water, which is as old as the world, is consumed as food by both animals and human beings, and it is also required in various fields of endeavour or human activities including, farming, cooking, manufacturing, sports, bath, hand washing, brushing of teeth, laundry, sanitation cum other forms of domestic and environmental activities, just to mention but a few.
The functions of water in the body ranging from cell life, to chemical and metabolic reactions, transport of nutrients, body temperature regulation, elimination of waste or toxic substances, among others, are numerous and innumerable. Water is a carrier that distributes essential nutrients such as minerals, vitamins and glucose, to cells. Furthermore, it removes waste products including toxins rejected by the cells through urine, sweat and faeces. It also participates in the biochemical breakdown of whatever we consume.
Inter alia, water has a large heat capacity which helps to limit changes in body temperature in a warm or a cold environment. It allows the body to release heat when ambient temperature is higher than body temperature. Most importantly, water is an effective lubricant around joints; it also acts as a shock absorber for eyes, brain, spinal cord, and even for the foetus through amniotic fluid.
Water is indeed at the centre of life. This is why nobody can live more than three to five days without any water intake. Suffice to say that, its role in the body is not just important, but inevitable. It has succeeded in proving to mankind that it is the most important form of food among the six classes of food in existence. Considering the agricultural sector; the absence of water would simply cripple the entire activity in the aforementioned area thereby terminating the lives of crops or livestocks, as the case may be. Same is obtainable in the manufacturing industry, like the pharmaceutical firms, bakery and breweries, that requires water as one of the basic raw-materials for its day-to-day activities.
The positive impact of water on cooking and other household cum industrial works, is another factor that cannot be taken for granted whenever the societal importance of water is discussed. It is noteworthy that without water, most other forms of food or diet would not be prepared or provided. On the other hand; swimming, which is one of the most lucrative kinds of sporting activities in recent times, wouldn’t have been founded if water is not obtainable.
Of course, the overall importance of water in man’s daily life was what prompted one of the popular songs entitled ‘Water no get enemy’ sang by the late legendary Nigerian musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. In reference to the said song, the late Afro-beat artiste extensively told his fans that water is required in virtually everything we do on earth.
As it is widely noted that the significance of water to mankind cannot be overemphasized, it is also worthy to note that intake of dirty or impure water remains one of the primary causes of several diseases or infections such as, typhoid, diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, staphylococcus and other sexually transmitted diseases, experienced across the globe.
Without mincing words, recent statistics show that over sixty percent (60%) of deaths is attributed to consumption of unclean water as well as residing in an unsafe environment. We shouldn’t forget that accommodating dirty stagnant water such as gutter, pool et cetera, in our environments or vicinities attracts mosquito which remains the sole cause of a killer disease known as malaria. According to the United Nations (UN), 768 million people worldwide lack access to improved water sources while 2.5 billion persons have no improved sanitation. Last Sunday the world marked 2016 World Water Day.
The international World Water Day is held annually across the globe on March 22 as a means of focusing attention on the importance of fresh water and advocating the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Each year, the World Water Day is targeted to highlight a specific aspect of freshwater.
The international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended on December 22, 1992 during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), which took place in Riode Janeiro, Brazil. The UN General Assembly adopted the recommendation, therefore designated 22nd March 1993 as the first celebration of World Water Day.
As the global community commemorates the World Water Day, I call on all stakeholders and the civil society to pledge to develop the policies needed to ensure that sustainable water and energy are secured for the many and not just the few as it is presently the case. In this regard, we should ensure that our respective communities are provided with adequate and safe water sources.
On their part, the various ministries of Water Resources and their Environment counterparts, ought to ensure that adequate boreholes are sunk in every community that is related to them and also endeavour to sponsor series of radio/television jingles to sensitize the populace on the importance of clean water as well as safe environment.
The federal and states Water Corporations are also expected to monitor this proposed measure. More so, they should from time-to-time conscientize the public on the need to regularly sanitize their gutters and other damp areas surrounding their places of residence. Among all, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) ought to, from time to time, endeavour to check the activities of the various registered water companies. Also, it should not hesitate to sanction or close down any one that is set up illicitly or without its consent. Also, in our individual capacities, we ought to endeavour to properly boil any water we intend to drink, and also adequately sanitize our surroundings. Thus, we are expected to note that pure and safe water is found on our tables or surroundings at all times.
•Nwaozor writes from Owerri