The challenges that lie ahead as developing countries transition from agrarian to industry-based economies call for sound environmental practices. Water resources issues demand immediate and concerted attention. There are concerns over the reliability and safety of drinking water; source water protection; water distribution systems; quality assurance monitoring; wastewater handling and disposal; and sanitation. These vital water utilization processes, in turn, affect health, food security/safety, energy security, and economic prosperity.
Rural communities, particularly in African nations such as Nigeria, are especially hard-pressed for secure and safe water resources. Furthermore, trends in population demographics, such as population expansion, migration from rural to urban centers, and the transport of rural culture to urban centers will inevitably continue to exert strain on available water resources. Sustainability in water resources will require not only massive efforts to develop new and reliable sources, but effective management practices as well. The involvement of higher-education institutions is critical in this regard, as they will provide the expertise needed to train essential personnel; develop new technologies and strategies for transferring those technologies; and forge alliances with local organizations and service-providing groups to facilitate community-based initiatives.
Solutions to water and environmental health problems require approaches that emphasize partnerships to explore the links between water, health, public policy, technology, and poverty. Exposure and effective utilization of technological advances can have a catalytic effect in addressing water resource issues. Lastly, mechanisms are needed to facilitate the adoption and implementation of efforts and procedures that have proved to work elsewhere.
This white paper outlines plans to establish Nigeria’s first internationally accredited water-quality monitoring laboratory. This planned laboratory, in seeking to fill key knowledge gaps on Nigeria’s water pollution challenges, could provide a useful case study on the kinds of partnership- and technology-driven approaches that may prove pivotal to addressing future water challenges — not just in Nigeria, but elsewhere across the globe.
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