By Godlove Dzebam & Mankah Berinice
“Water water everywhere but no water to drink...” goes a rhyme of the nursery school in Early Childhood Education Program. Getting water seems easy in this poem however, having water to drink is hard to get. Most water bodies have been polluted mostly by human activities. The Pedagogic in Service Training Program in partnership with the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford is supporting some schools in the Center, Littoral, North West, and South West Regions of Cameroon reflect on different modules in regards to water. This article in brief reflects the experiences of the learners on the subject of water.
Many will argue that there is no constant amount of water on earth whereas, water remains constant and there is never a drop more or a drop less. It circulates continuously between the oceans, atmosphere and land in what is called the water circle. This explains that water is neither created nor destroyed in natural processes on planet earth. That is, these natural processes includes; evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, infiltration etc.
Water is a colorless, transparent, odorless liquid that forms the seas, lakes, rivers and rain. It is also the basis of the fluids of living organisms. Improving access to well managed water is one of the global Sustainable Development Goals which will be achieved by the year 2030.
In as much as water level is constant in the planet, it is unevenly distributed so as the number of people in the planet are unevenly distributed. This explains why some parts of a particular city will have excess water and another part will suffer serious water crisis. When there is water scarcity, people start looking for other sources of water like groundwater.
Many people believe that water from the ground is one of the best sources of drinking water. Studies have revealed that at least two billion people in the world depend on ground water especially in rural areas in Africa and Asia as agriculture and other livelihood user depend on it. When water infiltrates into the ground, some of it clings to the soil or to roots of plants. This is called soil moisture because it moisturizes the soil which can be used by plants to grow. However, not all infiltrated water is used by plants. Some of it flow in to streams while some of it flow downward into the saturated zone below the water tables and become groundwater. Even though it looks completely solid, there is enough empty space in the ground that water is stored there.
If ground water is accessed carefully and well protected, it can be much cleaner than surface water and can be used when rain water collection is not enough or when surface water sources have dried up. Surface water can contain biological pathogens that are spread by wildlife. Moreover, groundwater is not hundred present safe because it can dissolve fluoride from rocks and high level of fluoride can cause diseases so, there is nothing much that can be done to protect water from natural contamination and so treating water before drinking is the best option.
Human beings contribute a lot in water contamination. Some examples include; improper management of waste including open defecation, livestock waste or building latrines too close to water sources, improper use of fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture, swimming and bathing in water sources. All these activities can cause serious damage in water. Water pollutants might not be visible and so water may look clean but not good for drinking.
The approach recommended by World Health Organization involve source protection (keeping pollutants away from water), Sedimentation (when water sits in a container and the particles that are floating settle to the bottom because they are heavier than the water), Filtration (passing water through a filter), disinfection and safe storage.
According to U.S Department of health services USA.gov, getting enough water every day is important for your health. Drinking water can prevent dehydration, a condition that can cause unclear thinking, result in mood change, cause your body to overheat, and lead to constipation and kidney stones.
Deforestation can disrupt the water cycle by decreasing precipitation which can lead to changes in river flow and water volume. Research has shown that the Amazon needs 80% of the trees standing to continue this critical hydrological cycle. Transpiration is the evaporation of water from tree leaves and so if trees are cut down, there will be less evaporation and water can’t fall from the sky as precipitation unless it first evaporate, so deforestation will reduce rainfall. Unfortunately, this has been a habit with the commercialization of trees on the rise in Cameroon.
In a nut shell, trees should be protected so the cycle of rainfall will be maintained and there will be little or no water shortage on planet earth.
Worthy to note is that most water bottling companies produce plastics and not water… hopefully we explore this on a different subject.