Abuja, NIGERIA — Water security is critical to the health and well-being of people around the world, but not for the people of Mbuburu in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State – Nigeria, as their only source of drinking water, Nvuna River, is yearly polluted and currently in the state of disaster —the impacts on the community no doubt, grave.
The Nvuna River which traverses four communities of Nomeh, Unateze, Mburumbu and Nkerefi is yearly under pressure from pollution crisis.
The community does not host any oil producing facilities, yet, yearly in the rainy season, the Nvuna River, the only source of the community’s drinking water suffers from extensive petrochemical contamination,. Most recently, in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 between April, May, June, July and August the Nvuna River and other water wells around the community were detected of numerous petroleum hydrocarbons, including benzene.
Leaked gasoline/oil and poisonous chemical substances spill into the Nvuna River and piles of decomposing rubbish give off a nauseating odor. Much of the pollution is attributed to discharged waste products directly into the river. Now the crisis has reached alarming levels. The community remains in danger by simply taking a drink of water.
This year, precisely weeks before the just celebrated Easter, Mburubu community has been thrown into acute scarcity of water, because the Nvuna River which is the community’s only source of water, again, this year, is contaminated.
The oil sediment and reddish color of the water – a consequence of pollution and the obstacles that obstruct the watercourse – reveals the ongoing disaster of the Nvuna River.
“We Are Drinking Diseases’ we are vulnerable to several life threatening waterborne diseases, says Chidi Okorie, the publisher of Time Africa Magazine who hails from Mburubu.
Continuing he said, “For some weeks now, Nvuna River is contaminated and waterborne diseases are threat to the community. Clean water should be available to all, but sadly that’s far from the reality in Mburubu,” he said.
According to him, diseases from the contaminated Nvuna River are all too common. Young children and women are especially vulnerable to increasing health risks from waterborne diseases like Diarrhea and cholera.
With the number of cases increasing sharply following a hard pollution of the community water, Okorie said, “It’s unfortunate for us to see this situation.
The Nvuna River is no longer useful to us, we can no longer drink or do the laundry with this water polluted which exposes us to dangers.”
One does not need to be a specialist in hydrology to realize the seriousness of the situation in Nvuna River. Providing 98% of the community drinking water, it risks being wiped off the hydrological mishap if measures are not taken to save it.
Okorie said the situation is heartbreaking. “The toxicity of the river has reached a level where if nothing is done by the State government, then we are faced with acute for scarcity.
The villagers lamented that beyond endangering their health, agriculture, livestock and arboriculture – which were once the main activities of the population – are no longer possible with the Nvuna’s yearly pollution. Apparently, long gone are the times when the river was a source of livelihoods for all the villages.
Currently aquatic and plant resources are disrupted. Areas devoted to crops, mainly food crops, which enable households to feed themselves, are being drastically reduced, and women can no longer grow market vegetables, which used to provide them with income to meet their needs and those of their children.
Women and their children now walk more than two hours to collect water, often from shallow wells or unprotected ponds.
For the past five years and more, the community has gone as far as to declare that “the river is in a state of clinical death,” and consistently drew the attention of the State government to the extreme urgency to act, yet help comethfrom nowhere.
Mburubu community is one of the most water-scarce communities in Enugu State, with access to this precious resource made harder by government negligence and lack of infrastructure development like roads, schools, hospitals, water and electricity.
Absolutely the lack of clean, safe drinking water for Mburubu community remains a big challenge particularly for households, additionally it remains the primordial causes of health problems among children under 5 years of age who are prone to water-borne diseases and malnutrition.
The Enugu State Government should as a matter of paramount necessity, immediately provide alternative clean drinking water, medical surveillance for Mburubu community.
The State government or World Bank must salvage the people of Mburubu community by taking immediately action to put a definitive end to this situation, which threatens the very existence of the people of the community.
By Chidipeters Okorie