By Joshua Olalekan, Lagos
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has stated that about 164 million Africans run the risk of dying due to infections from polluted surface water.
According to a UNEP report entitled “Snapshot of the World’s Water Quality” obtained in Lagos, water pollution has increased alarmingly in three continents of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The report said that if urgent steps were not taken to slow down the rise of water pollution, life-threatening diseases such as cholera and typhoid could become rampant in these continents.
“Worrying rise in the pollution of surface waters in Africa, Latin America and Asia could damage vital sources of food and harm the continents’ economies.
“By making access to quality water even more difficult, water pollution also threatens to breed further inequality, hitting the most vulnerable, women, children and the poor the hardest.
“The increasing amount of wastewater being dumped into our surface waters is deeply troubling. Access to quality water is essential for human health and human development; both are at risk if we fail to stop the pollution.
“Luckily, it is possible to begin restoring rivers that have already been heavily polluted and there is clearly still time to prevent even more rivers from becoming contaminated.
“It is vital the world works together to combat this growing menace,’’ the report quoted Jacqueline McGlade, Chief Scientist of UN Environment as saying.
According to the report, population growth, increased economic activity, the expansion and intensification of agriculture are some of the reasons behind the rise in water pollution.
It also fingered an increase in the amount of untreated sewage discharged into rivers and lakes as a reason behind the troubling rise in surface water pollution in Asia, Africa and Latin America