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Climate change: Minister urges swift action on water sector

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, has called for immediate and collaborative efforts to address the escalating challenges of climate change in the country.

Utsev made this call at the opening of the two-day National Workshop on State Action Plan on Climate Change on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said there was an urgent need for collective action as no nation was exempted from the effects of climate change which surpassed borders, ideologies, and political realms.

The minister said the fast encroachment of climate change was affecting every facet of life, from food sources to infrastructure, livelihoods, health, and the future.

According to him, water, as one of the most vulnerable sectors, faces the brunt of climate change.

Utsev, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Aliyu Shinkafi, listed various manifestations, including rising temperatures, extreme weather conditions, and the depletion of natural resources, especially water and ecosystems.

“The signs of climate change are becoming more distinct, and the time for climate action is now.”

He referenced Nigeria’s experiences, such as the floods of 2012 and 2022, as undeniable proof that climate change was a tangible reality.

The minister attributed climate change primarily to greenhouse gases and synthetic chemicals and called for swift, decisive, and collaborative efforts.

He said engaging stakeholders at all levels, including governance, development partners, and the private sector, was crucial to developing holistic solutions that leave no one behind.

Prof. Utsev said that the impact of climate change on the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector, affected not only human life but also economic growth, food, and energy production.

He urged participants to approach the workshop with optimism and a sense of purpose.

“Together, we can rise to the challenge of climate change and recreate a world that is healthy, equitable, and more resilient for economic prosperity,” he said.

He expressed optimism that the workshop’s outcome would drive positive change in the collective aspiration to make the planet more conducive and resilient.

Dr Mukaila Babarinde, the Director of Hydrogeology and Climate Change at the ministry, highlighted the significance and timeliness of the workshop.

According to him, the workshop aims to advocate for and align Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 on Climate Action with SDG 6 on Water and Sanitation.

He said that it placed special emphasis on grassroots engagement, youth involvement, and the participation of water sector professionals from various states across Nigeria.

This, he added focused on the Climate Adaptation Country Compact.

“The workshop’s specific objectives include disseminating the concept of climate-resilient Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) programming.

“Additionally, it aims to orient states on the Climate Landscape Analysis for Children (CLAC) and provide support for the preparation of action plans to implement climate-resilient WASH programmes,” he said.

Babarinde added that the initiative underscored the commitment to addressing climate challenges in the water sector, ensuring a sustainable and resilient future for communities across the nation.

Dr Jane Bevan, UNICEF Chief of WASH, issued a stark warning regarding Africa’s vulnerability to climate change, with Nigeria ranking as the second-highest risk globally.

She said there was the need for tangible actions in the WASH sector to counteract the impending threats of extreme weather conditions and diseases like cholera.

Bevan advocated for a united front against the risks; outlining the importance of preparedness plans, emergency response strategies and initiatives to mitigate the effects of extreme weather events and diseases linked to rising temperatures.

She underscored the significance of adopting proactive measures, including state-level action plans and a climate rationale, to secure external funding and fortify regions against climate-related challenges.

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