By Asma’u Ahmad
The 25th Regular Meeting of the National Council of Water Resources began on Monday with calls from stakeholders to seek out ways and commit more funding to turn around the sector.
At the opening in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Dr Musa Ibrahim, noted that the meeting was an opportunity to seek out solutions to turn around the dwindling sector.
According to him, Nigeria has not fared well in the comity of nations delivering water services to the people, hence the need to fashion out ways to reverse the trend.
He noted that in spite of enormous opportunities such as abundant fresh water, favourable weather, human capacity and institutional arrangements, challenges still abound.
“This gathering is therefore yet another step towards addressing the myriads of challenges and to concretise efforts of various stakeholders towards ensuring adequate water supply and sanitation services to our ever increasing population.
“This can only be achieved by improving the policy environment, attaining the set national targets and those of the Sustainable Development Goals in the water and sanitation sub-sectors.’’
The permanent secretary however expressed hope that the contribution and recommendations that would emerge would assist in articulating polices and strategies for effective and sustainable water resources management.
While commending efforts of all development partners in the country, Dr Ibrahim pledged Federal Government’s commitment to continue to reposition the water and sanitation sector.
Senator Ubale Shittu, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Water Resources, said Nigeria had no other alternative to repositioning its water resources, saying the paramount position that water played in human existence could not be over-emphasised.
He pledged the commitment of the legislature to promote all programmes and policies of government towards an inclusive society and socio-economic development.
Earlier, the General Manager FCT Water Board, Mr Aminu Nahuche, noted that the administration had invested massively into the water supply system of Abuja, with turnaround maintenance of its 30,000 cubic meters to improve water production capacity.
He sad with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, there has been a reduction of non-revenue water, saying this has also led to a revenue collection of about N100 million monthly.
Nahuche said the Abaji comprehensive water project to improve water supply for Abaji area council and its environs has reached 98 per cent completion, saying this was made possible with efforts of the federal ministry of water resources.
He said with the Act establishing the FCT water board operational this has further paved way for the board to strengthen her duties in accelerating water and sanitation services.
He stressed the need for all stakeholders to increase investments to accelerate the coverage of water supply and sanitation to the goring population, saying the National Population puts its growth rate at 2.43 per cent.
“While population is increasing, water infrastructure is deteriorating and collapsing, dams, treatment plants are distribution lines are ageing, water demand is surging.
“This simply means that we are experiencing water infrastructure deficit in Nigeria, this gathering should look at ways to have seamless success in the sector across the states of the federation.’’
Dr Martin Mbonu, A Water, Sanitation and Hygiene expert expressed about non-performance of state water utilities, saying there was the need for total over-hauling of water infrastructures through institutional restructuring, water governance and deliberate funding.
He said that the under-performance was linked to poor staff training, weak investments, saying it was saddening to hear that 27 per cent of water infrastructures collapsed within one year of construction.
According to the World Bank, it is estimated that 114 billion dollars is needed annually globally to reach the sustainable development goal on water and sanitation, yet the sector is only raising about one third of that figure.
The UN Children’s Fund also states that Nigeria needs to invest 8 billion dollars annually in providing water to meet the SDGs by 2030.
The theme of the meeting is “Increased Investment for Accelerated Coverage of Water Supply and Sanitation in Nigeria’’.