The importance of rivers as a source of water for humanity cannot be overstated. It is not surprising that workers in the Benin-Owina river basin have recently mobilized to raise awareness of the need to protect rivers from pollution. Adibe Emenyonu, who was present at the event, captured the essence of the celebration
World Rivers Day is one of the biggest environmental celebrations on planet Earth. It is celebrated every fourth Sunday of the year. This year’s celebration was marked on September 27, however, with a detailed message attached to it.
Therefore, given the importance of rivers to human existence and development, Nigeria has joined with many other countries to celebrate the day in various places across the country.
The celebration, which is a first edition in Nigeria, was hosted by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources through the Department of River Basin Inspection and Operations.
World Rivers Day is a day set aside by the United Nations to celebrate the world’s waterways or river systems in order to highlight the many values of rivers and raise awareness around them, with the primary purpose tailored on improving the management of all rivers around the world.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Waterways in Our Communities” in recognition of the incredible natural, cultural and recreational values of rivers and streams, and the extent to which they add to the quality of life. .
The day, according to Minister of Water Resources Suleiman Adamu, has become one of the biggest environmental celebrations on planet Earth. He said this year’s celebrations were marked by around 100th countries with the intention of drawing attention to the world’s rivers which are in degraded states and face increasing pressures associated with pollution, industrial development, urbanization and climate change mainly due to human activities.
Also in the words of the founder and president of World Rivers Day, Mark Angelo, “The importance of fresh and clean water has been essential in the fight against COVID-19, so World Rivers Day is an opportunity. timely for millions of people around the world to come together to commemorate the importance of healthy waters and vibrant waterways. “
In Nigeria, therefore, World Rivers Day 2021 has been celebrated simultaneously at the federal and state levels with particular emphasis on raising public awareness of the importance of rivers, river cleaning, restoration, protection and to the conservation of rivers.
In Edo State, the ceremony was marked by the Benin-Owina River Basin Development Authority (BORBDA). To ensure that the essence of the celebration is captured, the Ikpoba River in Benin City, the state capital, was chosen as the site for the event.
In addition, the event was marked in all the watersheds falling under the jurisdiction of BORBDA, namely the States of the North Delta, Ekiti and Ondo.
In Edo, which was the headquarters, the ceremony included a motorcade and a public awareness campaign, including the distribution of leaflets to draw public attention to the importance of rivers as a source of clean water that should not be polluted in any form.
In addition, the ceremony also brought together workers from the river basin, carrying out manual cleaning, including the use of bulldozers and trucks to excavate the earth along the shore of the Ikpoba River, as well as the symbolic planting of trees. to create a green belt in the area.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Director General of the Benin-Owena River Basin Development Authority, Mr. Daily Ahmed, pleaded for safer preservation of waterways in the country.
Ahmed, an engineer by profession, said that human activities on the rivers have not only diminished the economic value of the river, but also pose a danger to human existence.
He lamented the indiscriminate dumping of garbage and human waste into rivers, stressing that people should strive to keep rivers clean at all times.
The boss of BORBDA, who stressed that the agency would ensure regular cleaning of the rivers in his watershed in order to improve their economic value, said “It is imperative to make our rivers clean because it is part of our existence. You can see the tons of garbage that has been removed from the Ikpoba River in one place, it shows the harm we are doing to ourselves.
“Maybe we need to know that throwing all this into rivers endangers our common existence, increases the cost of treating river water. We must strive to keep our rivers clean.
“As part of our efforts to support river clean-up, we will continue to advocate and work with communities to make them understand the importance of rivers,” he said.
In addition, there was a lecture given by an environmentalist, Dr Kingsley Egun, titled: “The Threat to Rivers in Benin-Owina Watershed Development Authority Catchment Areas and Its Implications”.
Dr Egun, during his lecture, said that studies carried out on various sections of the rivers have raised concerns about the high volume of pollutants deposited in the river, which has affected water quality and aquatic biota. from the river.
According to him, “the study further showed that it had a negative impact on the nutritional status of fish caught in the river and also predisposes consumers to various health risks.
“The threat to our community waterways has also had a negative impact on the cultural values and religious economy of indigenous peoples.