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2023 World Food Day: Water is life

“The world’s water crisis is not coming – it is here and children are the biggest victims”. -Peter Hawkins (UNICEF Representative, Nigeria)

The theme of this year’s World Food Day celebration, as promoted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization ( FAO) which was held on October 16, 2023 beamed the spotlight on water as the foundation for life and food. The global awareness was predicated on:” Water is Life,Water is Food.Leave no one behind”.

Viewed from a broad perspective, water is essential to our daily affairs as it covers over 50 % of our bodies, assists in the production of what we eat and supports livelihoods. But it is not infinite. That explains why we should not take it for granted. Our food choices and how the items are produced all affect water. Together, we can take action for food and be the change.

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The tips and actions for individuals, governments, private companies and corporation, schools, the civil society and academia dovetails towards working together towards a world that is both water and food secure. That is, instead of taking water for granted. Indeed, we all should manage it wisely.

The campaign also looked at solutions to produce more food and other essential agricultural commodities, to ensure that water is distributed equally. It therefore, means that our aquatic system should be protected from all forms of vagaries, more so in this era of the freaky and unpredictable climate change.

To strengthen the campaign and make it more encompassing the third edition of the Junior World Food Day was celebrated on October 19, 2023 with a fun-filled feature, uniquely spiced with music,art and dance.

Students from different countries and culture came together to call for action for food, through song and dance. This was made available in the multi-lingual captivating video themed:” Water is Food. Water is Life” with the song produced by Kabin Studio, performed by the multi-cultural Piccola Orchestra di Tor Pignattara.

But beyond the euphoria is the clarion call for a sober reflection on the status of the average Nigerian when it comes to getting access to safe water, to drink and cook with. The picture is reflected in the introductory quote. Going further, the breakdown shows that although 70 % of Nigerians have access to basic water sources, more than half of that water is contained! That is where the problem lies.

In fact, only 9 litres of water on the average is available daily to the Nigerian citizen. Also, 26.5 million of the people experience high water vulnerability, while 29% of them are exposed to extreme water vulnerability.

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Similarly, according to UNICEF, nearly one-third of Nigerian children do not have enough water to meet their daily needs. According to Analysis by Water Security for All initiative several communities depend on surface water, from unimproved sources. And the children bear the brunt, especially when water runs dry, or during the period of draught and also during floods that affect safe water sources. Some of them have to spend over 30 minutes to access drinkable water.

This preventable situation is unacceptable in a land abundantly blessed with fresh water of 286,200 MCM, though 23% of such comes from outside Nigeria. This is therefore, a challenge for our political leaders at the federal and state levels to assess the true situation of safe water scarcity at each local government.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources should should identify different strategies needed to supply safe water to the citizens, depending of course, on the terrain and soil texture. Is it the sinking of boreholes, improvement on safe water supply and expansion to the nooks and crannies of the country?

The answers should be reflected in the budgetary allocations and more importantly, the action taken for implementation thereof. This of course, should take the interest of our political leaders instead of coming up with laws that are ostensibly aimed at taking over water resources from the local communities for the benefits of herdsmen.

Engineers on water supply would have to do much to identify the cost implications for accessing contaminated water in sandy and salty areas, muddy and rocky terrains and the chemicals required to purify them for human consumption.

It would be recalled that during the celebration of the World Water Day in March 2021 it was revealed that 1.42 billion people- including 450 million children experience high water vulnerability, globally. This is unacceptable. That is especially so in a world that gleefully spends trillions of funds executing self-decimating wars!

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As aptly captured by the 2023 World Food Day celebration, water is Life and water is food. All hands must therefore,be on deck to provide adequate water to sustain more priceless and irreplaceable lives.

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