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An Assessment Of Basic Parameters Of Domestic Water Quality In Some Rural Communities Of Southeast Nigeria

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Oliver Odikamnoro (Abakaliki, Nigeria), Obinna Uguru
Glasgow Caledonia University1

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 9: Water allocation among competing uses and users,
AbstractIntroduction: It is widely accepted that one of the major challenges of the 21st century is to provide safe drinking water and basic sanitation for all. Currently, close to 1 billion people lack access to improved water sources, and over 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation -- nearly all of these people live in developing countries Access to safe water supply has great influence on the health, economic productivity and quality of life of the people. But meeting this need is one of the major challenges facing the rural communities of Nigeria today. In rural communities of southeast Nigeria, domestic water sources are prone to contamination by microbial, parasitic, and chemical agents. Apart from rainwater harvestation during the rainy season, local streams, ponds and wells are other sources of gathering water for domestic use. These sources are often polluted and likely to contain pathogenic microbes, harmful chemical contaminants, as well as cysts of parasitic intestinal protozoa and eggs/ova of parasitic helminthes. The use of such contaminated water for food preparation, dental hygiene or for drinking has been a major source of diarrheal diseases and other adverse tropical health conditions. Thus, a study of basic parameters of domestic water quality was carried out in rural communities of Obioma Ngwa local Government Area, Abia State, southeast Nigeria between October and December, 2013. Methods/Materials: Water samples were collected from thirty domestic water sources mainly streams and ponds. The physicochemical parameters such as pH, conductivity, turbidity and bacteriological parameters such as plate count and total coliform tests were estimated in the laboratory using the World Health Organization Standards. Turbidity was measured with a turbidity meter. The same water sources were surveyed for parasitic agents. In the analysis, 100 water samples were collected at different points from each water source and examined for parasites using the filtration and centrifugation techniques. Results and discussion: The result showed that there was significant variation (p<0.05) in the physicochemical parameters of the water samples analyzed. The pH value ranged from 6.06 -6.42 and turbidity values ranged from 1.00-7.60. The alkalinity for all the water samples fell below the WHO range. Since the alkalinity of these samples was too low, the ability of the water to resist pH changes will decrease. This implies that the pH value will constantly fluctuate, changing from acidic to basic fairly rapidly. Water with low alkalinity tends to be corrosive and irritates the eyes. The iron content of all the water samples fell below the WHO standard. A large amount of iron in drinking water gives it an unpleasant metallic taste. All the physicochemical parameters fell below the permissible level of the WHO standards. In the parasitological analysis, 76.4% of the total samples were positive for at least one of Entamoeba histolytica cyst, Giardia intestinalis cyst and eggs of Ascaris lumbricoides. In addition the results showed that these local water sources were either contaminated with coliform bacteria, parasites or both at the same time but with different load. Therefore, some of the diseases which are predominant in the area tend to suggest the presence of the parasites as the responsible factors. Open defecation is still a common practice. Therefore, good and hygienic water sources should be provided to these areas in other to reduce the level of water related infections to the inhabitants of these villages. This paper observes strongly that provision of safe drinking water to every household should be a primary goal of healthcare delivery at all levels. Interim approaches should be adopted to enhance the health gains associated with safe drinking water for those whose water supplies are unsafe. In some of these rural communities the quantity of water might be adequate but the quality might be very poor. Families should be educated on the need for boiling, chlorination, filtration, and solar disinfection. Conclusion: This paper observes strongly that provision of safe drinking water to every household should be a primary goal of healthcare delivery at all levels. Interim approaches should be adopted to enhance the health gains associated with safe drinking water for those whose water supplies are unsafe. In some of these rural communities the quantity of water might be adequate but the quality might be very poor. The paper recommends effective health education and enlightenment of the largely illiterate and ignorant local population. This should form the basis for a result-oriented point-of-use intervention. 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