Residents of Exuma Village in Aro-Ajatakiri, Ikwuano Local Government Area, Abia state, are urgently appealing to the government for assistance in resolving the pressing issue of their contaminated river. The community is burdened with immense hardships caused by the polluted water source. Their fervent request is for the state authorities to initiate the construction of boreholes, which would provide them with a reliable and clean water supply, thereby alleviating their current predicament. In Aro-Ajatakiri on January 31, 2024, an interview took place where Chief Godwin Nwosu, a prominent figure within the community, voiced this significant plea to the state government.
On January 23, 2024, the entire neighbourhood awoke to a distressing sight by the river, their was an issue with their principal reservoir for drinking water. It became apparent that the river had become contaminated, exhibiting an unfortunate aftermath of deceased fish along with other creatures. The river was being investigated by the Disease Control Unit of the World Health Organization (WHO), as they were in the process of collecting samples of both sand and water from the contaminated river. The origin of the water was a matter of curiosity for them, and when they asked, the community leader informed them that it flowed from the Umuajata Community situated in Olokoro Umuahia. After their visit to the community, they came back to inform Chief Godwin Nwosu about their findings.
Water samples were collected for a thorough investigation.
The gravity of the pollution is extremely severe, resulting in a challenging predicament for the Exuma community as the government has issued a ban on approaching the river. As a consequence, accessing water for drinking and other essential household needs has become an arduous task for the affected people. He expressed the urgency in which the community beseeches the state government to immediately take action by excavating boreholes for the village. This is necessary to ensure the well-being and safety of the community, as it will prevent the people from succumbing to the temptation of retrieving and utilizing water from the contaminated stream. In light of the circumstances, Nwosu expressed his gratitude towards the prompt response of the state authorities in launching an investigation into the river pollution matter.
During the period when Orji Uzor Kalu held his second term as Governor of Abia State, it was stated that the river had become contaminated. However, despite numerous reports submitted to the state government, no significant outcomes were obtained. He, nevertheless, urged for a prompt conclusion of the investigation and the implementation of efficient measures to prevent similar incidents from happening again. On Tuesday, January 30, 2024, Mr. Philemon Ogbonna, the Abia Commissioner responsible for matters related to the environment, addressed the community’s concerns by acknowledging that the government had duly noted their complaints. Moreover, in an effort to ascertain the root cause of the pollution problem, water samples were collected for a thorough investigation.
Natural existence of various chemicals in groundwater poses health risks.
According to the WHO, the transmission of diseases like cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio can be attributed to water contamination and unsatisfactory sanitation conditions. When water and sanitation services are absent, inadequate, or mismanaged, individuals are put in danger of preventable health hazards. This situation becomes even more critical in healthcare facilities, as both patients and staff face heightened risks of infection and disease due to the lack of proper water, sanitation, and hygiene resources. During their hospital stay, approximately 7 patients out of every 100 admitted to acute-care hospitals in high-income countries (HICs) experience health care-associated infections. In contrast, in low and middle income countries (LMICs), this number rises to 15 patients out of every 100.
Also, the negligent handling of urban, industrial, and agricultural wastewater has led to a hazardous contamination and chemical pollution of the drinking water consumed by a staggering number of individuals. Additionally, the natural existence of various chemicals, especially in groundwater, can pose significant health risks, with substances like arsenic and fluoride being particularly concerning. Furthermore, drinking-water can also become tainted with elevated levels of lead due to the leaching of this toxic metal from components in contact with the water supply.
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Approximately one million individuals succumb to diarrhea annually due to the absence of clean drinking water, poor sanitation, and inadequate hand hygiene. However, it is important to note that diarrhea can largely be prevented, and if nations were to address these underlying causes, they could potentially save the lives of 395,000 children under the age of 5 each year. In regions lacking accessible water sources, individuals may often neglect the importance of handwashing, consequently increasing the chances of experiencing diarrhea and various other illnesses.