World Water Day: Stakeholders’ divers opinion on value of water




As the world mark this year’s World Water Day, several stakeholders have called for more investment in the Nigeria water sector, JOHN OBA, reports.Every March 22nd globally, the Government and other concerned stakeholders, organisations and agencies come together to celebrate and raise awareness on the poor and vulnerable populations living without access to safe and clean water. 

The objective of this global event is to galvanize action towards active response to water crisis and seek out innovative measures to improve access to potable water supply while achieving the targets set out in the sustainable development goal 6 – Water and Sanitation for all by 2030.EffortsLike other parts of the world, Nigeria has been working vigorously to ensure that this goals are met and that Nigeria becomes water sufficient and open defecation free.Several steps have been taken, several policies formulated and being implemented on this.Very well, water is quite valuable and beyond price as it has taken a central facet in human existence.

It is noteworthy that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources under the watch of Engr. Suleiman Adamu has consistently affirmed its commitment to the development of the Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in Nigeria. Prior to that Nigeria was unable to meet the MDGs target on access to water supply, particularly with decline in access in the rural areas. It became necessary that concerted effort must be put in place to improve the trend towards achieving 100% access to water supply by 2030 (at a time when the population is estimated to grow to 257 million), in accordance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 The Ministry has strategically evolved programmes such as WASH Action Plan which was approved by the Federal Executive Council and followed up with a national workshop on 25 – 26 March 2019 that prepared the needed platform for its implementation. The Action Plan includes a 13-year revitalisati strategy with the aspiration of ‘ensuring access to water and sanitation for all” by the year 2030 through a strengthened Federal-State Partnership.Another major milestone for the rural water supply and sanitation improvement is the development and institutionalizing of the Partnership for Expanded Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (PEWASH) Programme.

This Programme is a collaborative partnership intervention model between major stakeholders, including the Federal Government, State Governments, Local Governments, Communities, Donor Agencies, Development Partners and the Private Sector towards achieving the SDGs in Nigeria.  The MoUsAfter the launch of the PEWASH programme, two pilot states signed agreement with the Ministry (Kano State Government signed on Wednesday 14th August, 2018 and Ogun State signed on 31st July, 2018) and the programme was implemented with construction/rehabilitation of 1197 water points.

Presently, 34 States have signed the PEWASH Protocol (except FCT, Borno and Rivers). Implementation of the Phase 2 of the programme has also commenced with construction/rehabilitation of 889 water points in ten (10) States of Imo, Katsina, JIgawa, Plateau, Zamfara, Sokoto, Ondo, Osun, Delta and Bauchi.   

The implementation of the PEWASH programme, launch of the National Action Plan for the Revitalization of the Sector and the declaration of a State of Emergency in 2018 and the signing of Executive Order 009 to end open defecation in 2019 by Mr President are among the many initiatives of the Federal government developed for addressing the challenges facing the Water sector. In 2019 a national Secretariat for the Clean Nigeria Campaign has been set up by the Ministry to coordinate activities across the country and has been engaging with State level structures to ensure progressive implementation across States. The Clean Nigeria Campaign is aimed at mobilizing high level political support, resources and the entire populace towards building a new culture of safe sanitation.  It is essential to aggressively mobilize the entire country towards ending the practice of open defecation, which has placed Nigeria on the global map as the country with the highest number of people indulging in the act estimated at 47million people.

 The hands of the leadership of the Ministry is on the plough, it is work for the achievement of the real value of Water for our teeming population. World Water Day celebrationMarking the day in Nigeria, the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, said water for all implies that the elderly, disabled, marginalized and poor people get access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 6.1 and 6.2. 

 “Whoever you are, wherever you are you have right to water.  The UN recognizes access to water as a human right which entitles everyone without discrimination to sufficient, safe, acceptable and affordable water for personal and domestic uses; which include water for drinking, sanitation, food preparation, personal and household hygiene, etc.”Water is a precious resource, just like the air we breathe.  We need it for life and it is required in abundance.  Our water demand is increasing year by year for domestic, agriculture, industrial, transport, hydropower, tourism among others. It implies that water is central to the basic needs of life. These uses give water the right premium in terms of value and respect worldwide. 

 “The theme for this year’s (2021) World Water Day is “Valuing Water.” This focuses on different ways water benefits lives and how we can value water properly and safeguard it effectively for everyone in the present and future generations.  It also extends beyond issues of pricing to include the environmental, social, and cultural values people place on water. 

 ‘To ensure the sustainability on water value, the principle of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) needs to be imbibed to promote the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximize economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising vital ecosystems and the environment. In this regard, the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Commission (NIWRMC) was set up to ensure the operationalization of IWRM in the sector,” he saidAccording to the minister, The multiplicity of water value cuts across Potable Water Supply, Agriculture, Environment, Health, Sanitation, Energy, Industry, Transportation and other areas of global developmental concerns, adding that the premium attached to water infrastructure in national development reflects its value in the agenda of any nation. He therefore called for adequate investment in water infrastructure. Adding that investment in water infrastructure produces significant multiplier effect on several other sectors with tremendous impact on overall national development. 

He further revealed some of the initiatives put in place by the Buhari Administration to achieve the goal to included; PEWASH Programme to boost collaboration/partnership within the three tiers of Government; Clean Nigeria Campaign to end open defecation by 2025; Construction of dams for water supply, power supply, irrigation tourism and aquaculture; Youth Empowerment Programme to reduce unemployment; Songhai Model Farming for improved agricultural production;”Development of a new flood application (APP) designed to be of practical value to water managers, technical experts, Disaster Risk Mangers; and Establishment of early warning system at flood risk areas to reduce exposure to incessant river flooding.”Likewise, in order to address the issues of water quality, the Ministry has eight functional National Water Quality Laboratories located in Akure, Enugu, Gombe, Lagos, Kano, Minna, Maiduguri and Sokoto. There are also others in Asaba, Makurdi, Umuahia and Port-Harcourt which are near completion.

Through these laboratories, the Ministry undertakes quarterly monitoring of the quality of the nation’s water resources via the Water Quality Network Monitoring programme based on sectoral best practices.”Towards improving the value of water, there is need to provide appropriate legislative framework to create a stable and attractive environment for investors and development partners. It is in view of this that the Ministry is seriously engaging with the National Assembly to ensure the passage of the National Water Resources Bill into law.”There is need to reiterate some of the problems that threaten the value of water in the country such as pollution of water bodies, security challenges at water points, institutional and human capacity weaknesses, inadequate power supply, lack of ownership of water facilities by beneficiary communities, as well as poor operations and maintenance culture. 

In addition, Global warming and climate change are also affecting the water cycle. From now on, there is an urgent need to conserve water otherwise there would be a day when there would be no water to drink,” he said.WaterAidAlso, speaking on Monday during a media roundtable on Water and Climate Change, in line with the theme for 2021 World Water Day – ‘Valuing Water’, stakeholders said WaterAid’s latest report: “Turn the tide: The state of the world’s water 2021” shows how people are losing access to clean water as longer droughts dry up springs, seawater infiltrates groundwater supplies and landslides take out water pumps.

The international development organisation shows that investing in water systems that provide a reliable supply whatever the weather, is a frontline defence against the impact of climate change.  In the crucial battle to reduce current and future global emissions, the situation faced now by those most impacted by climate change has been given little focus or investment.

WaterAid is calling on governments to prioritise water in their climate plans.   Without easy access to clean water, people’s lives are blighted by sickness, poverty and the endless drudgery of collecting water. Women and girls around the world already collectively already spend an estimated 200 million hours a year or around 23,000 years – walking to fetch water.i For the 60 million people in Nigeria that do not have clean water close to home, the hours spent collecting water or the time needed to recover from waterborne illnesses caused by dirty water, robs entire communities of an opportunity to build a better future.

For the girls and women tasked with fetching water, having to walk further to find a clean water source takes time away from their education and disproportionately impacts on their lives.  Climate change acts as a threat multiplier for water, exacerbating problems caused by poor management of water resources, lack of political will and inadequate investment. With the current climate scenario, it is predicted that water scarcity will displace between 24 million and 700 million people, by 2030.ii  Currently, only 5% of total global climate funding is spent on helping countries adapt to their changing climate, and that money is not targeted at the communities most vulnerable to climate change.

 The investment in ensuring that everyone no matter where they live has a reliable and safe water source to help make communities become more resilient to climate change, is completely inadequate to the growing crisis. Action Against HungerThe Country, Director, Action Against Hunger, Mr Dabagai Dabagai, who was represented by the deputy country director, Mr. Adams Diariassouba, the need to invest and innovate, ensure adequate investment in institutions, infrastructure, information and Innovation to realise the many benefits derived from water and reduce risk is essential.”Also, there is the undeniable need for annual budgeting and commitment by the government and all partners to ensure safe and sustainable access to water. 

“At Action Against Hunger, our intervention in water, sanitation and hygiene will continue to give priority to providing safe water in natural disaster situations, conflict and vulnerable locations. We have and will continue to ensure rehabilitation of water points, provide safe water delivered by trucks, install emergency latrines and ensure waste managment and epidemic control,” he said.He however revealed that 740,828 persons benefited from AAH sage water, sanitation and hygiene programme.

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