Nutritionist Chukwunweike says One-third of Nigerians drink contaminated water

Mrs. Josephine Chukwunweike, a nutritionist and member of the Nutrition Society, has lamented that one-third of Nigerians drink contaminated water. 

Josephine said this in an interview with newsmen while celebrating World Water Day today, March, 22 by United Nations. 

Read the full interview below;

Has the country paid enough attention to the provision of potable water?

”I do not think the country has paid enough attention to the provision of potable water to the citizens. According to a 2020 report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, one-third of Nigerians still drink contaminated water.”

Is the government paying enough attention to the provision of water? No, the government is not.?

”The use of contaminated drinking water and poor sanitary conditions result in increased vulnerability to water-borne diseases.”

Most urban areas in Nigeria rely on water from boreholes. There is the indiscriminate sinking of boreholes. What is the danger of this?

”The danger in the borehole’s indiscriminate sinking is that it could affect the earth and cause cracks and destroy buildings gradually. Also, it could lead to the supply of contaminated water as some of these boreholes are done close to refuse/sewage disposal areas, and this, of course, is injurious to health.”

What is the health implication of water in preventing diseases?

”When we do not drink enough water, we are at risk of kidney stones and, in women, urinary tract infections. It can also lower physical and mental performance, salivary gland function and lead to dehydration.

”It is possible to drink too much water and cause a condition called hyponatremia (water intoxication). However, this condition is rare; what is common is that people drink less water than they need.”

What is the relationship between water intake and good health?

”Water itself is a class of the food. There is a popular adage that says water is life. Even if a human being does not eat food for three days but can take adequate water, the individual will definitely survive, but if the reverse is the case, it will be quite dangerous, especially after three days.

”Water is a detoxifier, and adequate water intake helps to remove excess salt and toxins from the body via urination and perspiration. In addition, it helps in the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients in the body. It regulates body temperature and helps lubricate our joints. Adequate water intake also helps bowel movement.”

What percentage or quantity of water do you recommend for different age groups?

”Water consumption should be based on physical activity, physiology, and body weight asides from age and gender. People who do more physical activities should take more water, also, pregnant women and nursing mothers. Men should take more water than women as a rule too.

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”Water (in liters) to drink a day = Your Weight (in Kg) multiplied by 0.033. For example, if you are 60kg, you should drink about 2 liters of water every single day. At 90kg, you’ll around about 3 liters of water. All you need to do is multiply 0.033 to your weight in Kg.”

You said one-third of Nigerians did not have access to potable water. What can be done to change the narrative?

”The truth is that most people who even have access to potable water actually source for it themselves nowadays because the government seems to have neglected its duty. Others are those waiting on the government and who most likely are not able to provide for themselves. Many years ago, as a child, I used to know ‘Water Board’ back then to give us water in our homes; what we call tap water, although it was not a daily affair. I strongly suggest that water cooperation and senators in every state should collaborate to sink boreholes that will provide water to communities, especially in rural areas and places where there is no access to potable water. This should help mitigate the situation at hand.”

A lot of Nigerians usually substitute water with soft drinks during meals. Is this supposed to be so?

”Soft drinks are water-based, but they are not water. Of course, we know that they are a mix of concentrates and water, and they cannot substitute water. Water in itself is clear and tasteless. It’s just something God created, and it absolutely quenches thirst than any other liquid one can take. Water will do a better job at aiding digestion than soft drinks; in fact, soft drinks themselves need to be digested, unlike water.”

For an infant, it is said that breast milk is 88 percent water. Does it mean that mothers should give them more breast milk and less water?

”Mothers are advised to breastfeed their infants exclusively for the first six months of their life (this means water should not be given at all). At six months, other foods and water should be introduced because breast milk alone would not be able to meet the infant’s nutritional requirements.

”There is the school of thought that believes rainwater is the best? How true is this? Can rainwater be 100 percent reliable in terms of neatness for drinking?

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”Rainwater is pure, agreed, but we cannot say it is 100 percent pure for drinking until we are able to collect this water directly from the sky. Sounds funny, but you see, most times we collect rainwater after it has hit the roofs of our houses or leaves of trees on its way down, and at the end of the day, it’s not as neat as it should be. At least, not near enough for drinking. So, until we can get the water directly from the sky, if you know what I mean here, we cannot ascertain that it is 100 percent clean for drinking.”

A lot of Nigerians staying in oil-producing areas always complain about not getting drinkable water. What do you think is the way out for them?

”This is a pity because even in the face of endemic vices such as crude oil bunkering, pipeline vandalization, and the likes, we still have irresponsibility because some of these companies are charged to lift these products from one point to another. They are careless with their handling during loading or unloading, transportation, and disposal of the oil waste. The government should kindly put serious sanctions on these companies and make them provide alternative water supply for these communities.

”The communities should also learn to start taking responsibility for themselves; it’s very important. I am sure they have local neighborhood security and chiefs in such communities who can fish out the culprits and make reports to the government duly.

”People in these communities are vulnerable; hence, the government should prioritize water supply to these areas like digging community boreholes to not rely on natural sources that are already contaminated.

”With the number of rivers in the country, Nigerians should not complain about not having access to clean and safe water. What do you think the government should do in this regard?

”The government needs to protect our natural sources of water. If they can pay attention to these natural sources and are able to protect them, it will be a lot easier to maintain boreholes when they are sunk in communities. The government should also ensure that they oversee and control water treatment processes periodically and analytically monitor potable water quality produced in the country for consumption.

 ”This is the duty of NAFDAC, and trust me, I know it’s quite a huge task and should not be undermined. By the second, water factories spring up, and so many of them operate without clearance from NAFDAC.”

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