Is your water potable?

by Josephine Agbonkhese and Anino Aganbi, originally posted on April 7, 2016


The popular saying “Water, e no get enemy!” culled from one of late Fela Anikulapo’s hit tracks connotes the extremely essential role water plays in human life. From washing to cleaning and cooking, not a single home functions without water each day. But while this amenity may be available for such domestic uses most times, the unavailability of safe drinking water remains a major burden for most families and communities in Nigeria. In fact, as a recent World Health Organisation, WHO, report puts it, less than a fifth of Nigeria’s population has access to potable water.

Meanwhile, the average individual requires at least 8 glasses of water per day, as the body requires water for metabolic activities.


Burden on home-makers

The consequent burden on home-makers to make available, daily, safe drinking water for their families can therefore only be imagined.

“I have a family of five and I buy big bottles of purified water regularly. Sometimes I even buy bags of sachet water. Most times, we finish about two bags in one day. This might be financially tasking but it is better than letting any of my children fall ill because of bad water,” Mrs Barisi Peters, a Port Harcourt-based business woman told Woman’s Own.

“For me, I simply make sure I boil water every day and allow to cool for everyone to drink. Our borehole appears clean but I still boil it because that’s the only way I can feel safe,” another Abeokuta-based home-maker, Mrs Tajudeen, said.

“I don’t boil. We have a borehole equipped with a water purifier device. This takes care of the water for me,” says an Abuja-based banker.


Bought water and boiled water

While this burden persists, entrepreneurs have continued to thrive in the water business, with thousands of sachet and bottled water brands claiming to be providing ‘pure’ and ‘safe’ drinking water springing up almost on daily basis.

While some may indeed be potable, the quality of many of the so-called “pure water” remains questionable, especially as many have most times been caught filling refillable bottles with clean looking but untreated water.

People like Mrs. Peters who find sachet water most convenient however believe they are safer for consumption; while Mrs. Tajudeen was quick to condemn them.

She said: “I don’t trust them. In fact, everybody does the business these days. There is also one behind my house whose hygiene practices I find very appalling.  Why would I then rely on such people for drinkable water?”


Water scientist

A water scientist with one of the biggest water producing companies in Lagos however told Woman’s Own that the distillation processes carried out in water factories could make a huge difference in their quality compared to simply boiling and drinking.

But while that may be true, the chemical components of products used in packaging these waters have remained subjects of discussion among health practitioners.

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