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How safe are drinking water sources in developing urban settings? A case study of Aba, Nigeria

IWRA 2021 Online Conference One Water, One Health
Theme 1: How can we better manage water for food and public health in a changing world?
Author(s): Uche Dickson Ijioma and Rainer Herd

Uche Dickson Ijioma1 and Rainer Herd 1

1 Chair Raw Materials and Natural Resource Management, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, Germany

Keyword(s): Groundwater, drinking-water, bacteriological test, developing urban, agricultural effluent


The increasing trends in urbanization and population of many developing urban settings are beginning to culminate in land-use and environmental practices that disturb the natural resource balance (cycles) due to over-exploitation and weakly enforced policies, especially in the global South regions. An investigation to identify the main drinking water sources and activities that influence the bacteriological safety of water sources were carried out in Aba, southeast Nigeria.

Many of such developing urban areas are known to have inadequate infrastructure, which leads to poor land-use management and take short-run approaches to keep up with the pace of demography changes and urban dynamics. Some poor urban and agricultural land-use activities, which directly harm the quality of some water sources, and jeopardizes the public health as availability of the water sources s defied.

An empirical study was conducted among randomly selected households to determine the source options for drinking water, its availability, as well as the quality perceptions using questionnaires. Different water (natural and alternative – packaged water and beverages sources) samples (36) were randomly sampled and bacteriologically tested for the presence of indicator organisms to ascertain the anthropogenic influence on the sources.

The results revealed that the origin of drinking water in the area is the groundwater and the supply is private since the public water schemes are dysfunctional. The drinking water comes from mainly from improved sources (tube-wells (52%) and alternative source (48%)). The perception of the drinking water quality is acceptable. However, 76% of the people drink the water without pretreatment. The bacteriological test revealed 30.5% of the water samples tested positive to the presence of Total Coliform in all samples, and 46 % of the natural water samples contain E-coli bacteria, which suggests faecal contamination on these sources.

The implication of the findings revealed some agricultural and urban-related stressors harm the quality of the natural water sources, thereby reducing the options of available water sources for domestic use in the area. These persuade the people to take alternative water sources such as water in sachet whose quality are not guaranteed.

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