How do you want this guy to quench his thirst now?
A couple of days ago, I heard on the radio that the Minister of Environment has decided to ban the production and sales of Sachet water (popularly called pure water) entirely, beginning from January 2014. I decided to write my take on that decision here.
I have to admit that my initial reaction was rage. It was not totally unfounded. There are several times in recent years that I’ve been in situations where being able to buy a sachet or two of water literally saved the day, lack of which would have made me terribly discomfit. After listening to the opinions of others, and examining the situation on both sides, I began to think about things a little more rationally.
The Minister of Environment makes a fair point in that the sachets of water pose a great environmental problem. They are non biodegradable even when buried under ground and so, pollute for the environment. Where we begin to divert in our opinions though, is the solution she has proposed.
The fact is that, pure water sachets are just one of the many things cause pollution of the soil/environment and are non biodegradable. What is she gonna ban next? Gala? Buscuits?. Where does it all end?
When looking at a problem like pollution, one cannot just choose the easiest solution. Its a cop out!. Look inwards first!.
The problem of environmental pollution in this country is not only caused by the citizens but also the failure of the Sanitation Authority. In most places, there are no public bins to throw waste in, and most of the time, even the places that have bins don’t see regular pickups. They then overflow and pollute the whole environment.
If I were to advise the Minister, I would ask her to take a leaf from NAFDAC’s playbook. Implement a solution in your ministry, like, I don’t know, getting your sanitation authority to do thier job?; and then run sensitization campaigns in the mass media so people hear it several times per day, possibly with a catchy jingle, until it sinks into their subconscious and they don’t notice when they start realizing they should throw away dirt properly instead of littering the whole environment.
I don’t presume to speculate that this would be easy, or even that results would present themselves right away. However, it is a prudent and long term solution to the problem and would ensure that a thriving industry would not be shutdown, taking the livelihood of a substantial number of Nigerians along with it.
Image © Jide Odukoya