WHEN THERE IS NO WATER FOR THE POOR TO DRINK
WHEN THERE IS NO WATER FOR THE POOR TO DRINK
A Failure of Capitalism
By Fidel Davynovich
DSM Ajegunle Branch
Today, 22 March, 2016, the world is celebrating World’s Water Day. A day set aside when different organizations, institutions and government agencies sit in round table to hold seminars and programs to discuss about the shortages of water for a population in the world that is running to 7 billion people.
Most of the discussions and seminars of these various agencies will be center on why water is inevitable in human life, and the need of having potable water. At the end of these talk shops, there will be some suggestions that for potable water to be available, governments should immediately commence projects of expanding the supply of water to many homes and communities.
Yes, it is a basic necessity for every home and families to have access to drinking water. But the truth is that governments in different parts of the world running policies of austerity and privatization do not have an agenda of providing water for everybody to drink. They don’t any longer see it as their basic social and welfare responsibility.
Therefore, all over the world, people suffer daily from shortages of water supply because of the government policies of not providing adequate clean water for the poor in the various communities, cities and town. The worst hit are the poor people in most backward countries of Africa, Middle East, Asia and South America. But even in the US, thousands in Detroit, the former capital of the auto industry, have been poisoned by lead contaminated water after the source of the city’s water supply was of changed in 2014 in order to save money.
In Nigeria successive governments under different agenda of neo-liberal capitalism are unable to provide this basic need for the working masses because of the self-serving interest they represent.
We have seen a situation whereby government is brandishing empty agenda and programs of providing social amenities, when in the real sense it is to award contracts to the individuals as their own share of public loots at the expense of the masses
This explains why millions of people especially in the ghetto slums like in Ajegunle (one of the highest populated ghettos in Nigeria) don’t have access to clean water. The poor people have to queue to fetch water from the dug pit usually described as wells or boreholes which are usually salty and dangerous for human consumption. Worse still, they will have to walk down to neighboring community or many streets away to fetch water. However, the worst of it is they might not even get water as there could be no power supply or fuel for generator for the water sellers to pump water.
Sometimes, when there is leakage in one or more of the pipes that run through the stinking canals and gutters in the slum areas you will see children and adults forming circle to fetch water from this broken pipe for hours as long water run.
It is the failure of the government to provide clean water that has forced ordinary people not to mind endangering their health by going for salt water or unhygienic sources of water.
In Ajegunle, Lagos, the APC led Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government, apparently to create new avenues to loot public resources, provide borehole water in some communities. However, in most cases due to poor quality jobs done, albeit at inflated prices, these boreholes hardly last a month before they begin to degenerate or outright collapse.
It is shame that the government of Lagos, the economic nerve centre of Nigeria, which prides itself as the centre of excellence and state of aquatic splendor cannot provide water for its residents despite its huge wealth.
From a report published It was reported in Vanguard newspaper on 16 September, 2014 that the immediate past Lagos State government of Babatunde Fashola through the Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC) had embarked on a project of constructing 38 water facilities spread across the state with a production capacity of over 210 million gallon per day.
The fact is that there are no evidence of any tangible progress made with this project even though it is not itself adequate to cater for the water need of the vast population of the state.
Yet the same government has reportedly planned to increase water output from 210mgd to 745mgd in the whole of Lagos State between 2010 to December 2020. Already we have passed the halfway into the target, yet there is nothing to show that any tangible progress has been made.
To begin to resolve water crisis in Lagos there must be adequate funding of Water Corporation under a democratic control of workers and community people. This will ensure judicious and transparent allocation of the resources to provide potable to communities.
There is no technical obstacle to provision of water in Lagos nay Nigeria, the problem is the developing economic crisis and neo-liberal capitalist policies of the anti-poor government. This explains why the welfarist government of Lateef Jakande in the Second Republic was able to provide drinking water for many communities in Lagos in early 1980s before the world economy became more unstable and neo-liberal capitalism became the new global order.
While it is necessary to struggle now to demand potable water and proper sanitation in communities, socialists understand that for clean water to run at every single home of the working masses it would require a working people’s government that sees water as basic need, not a commodity for profit or a means of looting public resources. Therefore, the struggle for provision of potable water must be linked with need for a working people political alternative on socialist program.