It is quite rare to find a city, town, or village that is not already feeling the spank of water scarcity. This age-old problem is snowballing into what might become a disaster in the near future and has transformed many people into water mongers. A keen observer will notice that at all times of the day, the few public taps are crowded and streets littered with containers, as families move from one end of the town to another looking for water.
In fact the few who are fortunate to have water running in their homes are greatly admired and envied by the majority of persons whose daily routine involves the fetching of water. In the rural milieu, communities that were blessed with good water sources are sitting up and making efforts to save their drying springs.
Natural causes and man-made actions, are responsible for this growing problem. Could this mean that the solution also lies in the actions man will take to reverse the situation while hoping nature will be less aggressive and extreme? The repercussions on the socio economic lives of everyone are heavy.
Come to think of the time, energy and money spent on a daily basis to fetch the precious liquid households could have had by just turning on the tap. Statistics say the time and energy used on the African continent to fetch water is equal to the entire workforce of France. Health wise, one can no longer be sure of the quality of water transported in buckets and bottles sometimes left open. With the coming of the rains,the burden might be lifted off the shoulders of some households who will practice rainwater harvesting.
A few privileged others are engaging in the expensive but sustainable boreholes to meet their water needs. For how longwill this go on?What can be done to salvage this situation? Just like they do in every domain, people keep counting on the government to spin the magic wand for all communities to have portable water running through stand taps and boreholes. If one were to compare communities, one will go away with the conclusion that those engaged more in community projects be it electricity, water supply or roads maintenance, are better off than those who sit tight waiting for manner from the government.
At individual levels, some measures have proven to be helpful. Water and sanitation experts have not relented in asking that taps be turned off when not in use; that the attention of the water distribution company be called to mend broken pipes early enough; farming be done far away from water catchments and water be reused for household chores such as laundry or flushing of toilets.
Unlike forest that can be replaced through planting of trees, water sources cannot be replaced or created. They can only be maintained. The time to act is now if we hope to save ourselves from the increasing water scarcity.
By Edith Atoniche