By Abdoukarim Sanneh, London, United Kingdom
Setting rules and regulations under any system of government yields a level playing field for economic growth and social development. In the context of sustainable development, economic growth means environmental protection. The rules in the dynamics of market economy are that business activities should be managed in such a way to minimise their environmental impact. Regulation requires a legislative framework and water laws are known from most societies in both developed and developing countries.
With the emerging space of Gambia’s new democratic politics, Environmental issues are becoming a major topical debate in both the National Assembly, the media and wider society. Today, there is a growing awareness of issues such as deforestation, desertification, climate change and global warming and its impact on livelihood diversification especially in agrarian economy like the Gambia. On the legislative front a lot of work is done in the past of the PPP Government to developed the country’s environmental legislation such as National Environment Management Act 1994, Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticide Control and Management Act 1994 but not much is done since then about Water Resource Management, water industry and abstraction, ambient air quality etc.
In many part of West Africa, the governments are taking a stronger position on issues such as water pollution, waste disposal, energy and climate change. The term water quality which is the theme of this article, is generally used to describe water that exists in the natural environment or is used either as industrial process or as a potable supply (Jones, 2000). Water quality can be affected by affluent which the case in Gunjur Golden Leaf Factory Pollution incidence and this may influence its biological oxygen demand or biochemical oxygen demand.
Gambia has not yet put in place a standardised water sample benchmark or regime to demand water pollution incidence. Quantifying and qualifying pollution a pollutant requires scientific procedures to determine biochemical after the discharge to waste material into the water body and this is known as biological oxygen demand. Biological oxygen demand is the amount of dissolved oxygen need by aerobic biological organism to break organic material present in a given water sample at certain temperature over specific time period. Effluent quality describes water which is discharged to the environment following its use in the form of process (Jones, 2000). The properties of effluent therefore can have a considerable impact on water quality affecting surface waters, groundwater and sea.
Access to safe drinking water is a determinant to basic fundamental human rights. Regulation of the water environment and protection of individual rights are both found essential in the common good, and there are best appreciated from historical perspective, because legislation reflects the imperatives of the changing economy and population. Water is vital to human life and, as such, legal measures should be in place to prevent it from anthropogenic pollution. Pollution control is essential and without it, the water which we extract our drinking water, manufacture our food and drink will be unsuitable for usage both for domestic, industrial and agricultural purpose.
Gambia National Environment Agency need to learn from the Golden Leaf Gunjur Pollution incidence and put in place a strong and effective legislation to control water pollution offences. For example, in United Kingdom both Water Resource Act 1991and Environment Act 1995 clearly stated that it is an offence to cause or knowingly permit affluent or other polluting matter to enter into water course. Water resources in our country comes under the protection and management of National Environment Agency. Under the National Environment Management Act 1994 the agency has to enforcement powers when a criminal offence has been committed and also to prosecute polluter in matters relating to environmental crimes. Water resource management does not only stop at the enactment of legislation but requires sound management principles, public education and change of attitudes for water utilisation.
Water plays an important part in the economy this was the reason why United Nation recognised 2005-2015 water for life decades. Water is an asset which critically need to be safeguarded. In the Gambia since after independence not much is done to improve urban sewerage infrastructure. Untreated urban Sewerage waste discharge in our rivers contributes significantly to water pollution in the country. Wastewater pumps into rivers in all sewerage treatment sites in Greater Banjul areas biochemical oxygen demand level for discharge into the river. With Water Resource Act, the National Environment Agency will set of standard bench mark and discharge consent order and failure to meet that can lead to fine or prosecution. Sewerage waste is a major contributor to phosphate and nitrogenous waste into our rivers. The effect of these substance on water ecology is concentration of heavy metals which are toxic to invertebrate species, can pass into the food chain and also eutrophication. Apart that nitrate in drinking water has linked to condition known as blue baby syndrome in which haemoglobin in the blood which carries or transport oxygen around our body cannot perform its function.
With future prospects industrial development, it is likely high that number of water pollution incidence will rise and much need to be done to enact effective legislation to control water pollution. Pollution of any nature is part of the realities of our civilisation due to consumer culture, leading to unsustainable pattern of consumption and production of resources. As the nation’s economy grows, the impact of pollution and degradation of resources becomes part of the realities.