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Nigeria Water Resource Roadmap and the huge financial deficit

By Joke Falaju, Abuja
23 March 2017   |   5:15 am
The Nigerian Water sector for a very long period of time has been left at the background despite its importance to the populace and the critical role its play in every facet of the economy, be it transport...

Managing excess water: Pond constructed to help recharge ground water and provide water for cultivation during summer. PHOTO:

The Nigerian Water sector for a very long period of time has been left at the background despite its importance to the populace and the critical role its play in every facet of the economy, be it transport, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy, resource-intensive manufacturing, recycling, building among other.

A recent report revealed that a yerly investment of $2.5billion was needed in the sector to meet the Sustainable Development Goal by 2030 unfortunately what is available to the government as at 2014 was $50million and $100million from development partners, which only represent one-third of the money required.

It is rather unfortunate that though Nigeria is well endowed in water resources, access to portable water still remain at a staggering 71 per cent and access to improve sanitary condition is at 41 percent. This is a far cry from MDG target on water and sanitation.

Although Nigeria has made substantial progress in developing policies and strategies for water supply and sanitation service delivery, however, inability to translate policies into deliverable actions remains a major challenge.

Recent report by UNICEF also has it that about 70 million people of Nigeria’s estimated 171 million population lacked access to safe drinking water, and over 110 million lacked access to improved sanitation in 2013.

According to the world body, about 124,000 children under the age of 5 die because of diarrhea, mainly due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. Lack of adequate water and sanitation are also major causes of other diseases, including respiratory infection and under nutrition.

The N85billion appropriation to the water sector in the 2017 budget was applauded by stakeholders who maintained that increased funding to the sector would enable the country meet the Sustainable Development goals on improved access to water and sanitation for all.

The head of Governance, WaterAid Nigeria, Ms. Tolani Busari stressed the need for government to invest more on capital projects that would have direct impact on people.

Stakeholders have continuously criticize government for investing more on building of dams as against projects that would be of direct benefit to the people.

She said, “Government should implement projects that would directly benefit the people in terms of water supply, sanitation and hygiene, and not just building infrastructure alone, adding that transforming the lives of Nigerians especially in rural areas would have a direct impact on how inclusive, development can be for the nation.”

Busari maintained that access to water supply and sanitation was the first step towards overcoming poverty, saying there was the need for all stakeholders to consciously prioritize water, stressing the need for an effective sustainability measures for capital projects been carried out in the ministry and put end to abandoned projects.

Also, the National Coordinator Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) Ms Pricillia Achakpa bemoaned that less attention was given to the sanitation in the 2017 appropriation bill as the bulk of the money was for Integrated Water Resource management and River Basins. Commending the increase in the budget to the water sector, she lamented that the issues of sanitation and hygiene have not got required attention of the federal government as little or noting is appropriated to the sub-sector.

Achakpa while stressing the need to scale up funding to Sanitation, hygiene and gender she said other NGO need to scale up awareness for government to realize the importance of funding the sector.

It was however gratifying when the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu recently released a roadmap to for the ministry would work with during his tenure as a minister and most of the content of blue print of the Ministry was designed in such a way that it would outlive him, up until 2030.

This is with the hope that any minister that heads the ministry would be left with no other option, but to key into the roadmap if it must fulfill the core mandate of the ministry which include: developing and implementing policies, projects and programmes that would enable sustainable access to safe and sufficient water to meet the social, cultural, environmental and economic development needs of al Nigerians.

Against the thought of many Nigerians, that the Ministry by its name is responsible solely for the provision of water to Nigerian, just as the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for provision of food, however the role of the Water Resource Ministry far outweighs provision of portable water supply, it deeps down to management of the Nigeria integrated water resources, facilitating and creating enabling environment for integrated conservation, development.

It also includes management of various water uses for preservation of fresh water ecosystem, adequate access to safe water and sanitation, production of sufficient food and provision of employment opportunities.

In a very concise and precise manner, the Minister reeled out the 7-point agenda to stakeholders in Abuja. The first key priority of the Ministry was to establish a policy and regulatory framework for the sector, it also plans to prioritize and implement the ministry’s project.

Another key target set by the ministry was to develop and implement a National Irrigation Development Programme to boost food production, within the period of 2016-2030. It also planned to identify dams with Hydro Electric Power Potentials for Development. And also develop and implement National Water Supply and Sanitation Programme to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 6).

He also said that the Ministry would develop a blueprint to strengthen the River Basin Development Authorities as enablers for Food Security and socio-economic development.

Ultimately, it would identify alternative sources for funding the delivery of Water Supply and Sanitation through enhanced collaboration with Development Patners, States and local Government Authorities, Communities and the Private Sector.

Engr Suleima was however quick to state that the total funding requirement for capital projects up until 2019 was about N261billion and this was not inclusive of the ministry’s outstanding liability of N88.87billion. He stated that “I am confident that implementation of the Roadmap will be accelerated as we move into the third quarter of the year and beyond.

This roadmap will support sustainable development in the water sector, the nation’s food security goals and guarantee lasting prosperity of our dear Country.” He disclosed that there are 116 on-going projects in the main ministry including 38 irrigation projects, 37 dams, 41 water supply schemes. He said the projects have been prioritized based on the stage of completion, cost of completion, envisaged impact on citizens and the economy, age of abandoment, overall project viability, availability of funds to execute the projects. He stated that of the 116 ongoing projects, 38 are prioritized including 10 irrigation and drainage projects, 13 dams, and 15water supply. The projects are expected to provide 71,873ha of additional area of irrigation, creation of 887,971 jobs, production of 252,921 tons of grains, provision of additional treated water of 620,400M3/day. It is expected that a total of 13.5million additional population would be served with potable water.

On the long term, an irrigation development strategy was developed for the period of 2016-2030 to be implemented in three phases: Phase 1: 2016-2020 =10,000ha; Phase II, 2021-2025 =170,000ha; Phase III, 2026-2030=225,000ha giving a total of 500,000ha by 2030. He said additional 1,500,000ha of irrigable land would be developed by the private sector and state governments within the same period, 6,185ha of irrigable land, 32 dams and 33 ponds are being made available for commercial farming across the 12 River Basin Development Authorities in 2016.

Adding that the Ministry would under take proper assessment including cost benefit of some of the dams that are 30 years and above and have silted up.

The Ministry also launched the Partnership for expanded water, Sanitation and hygiene (PEWASH) between 2016-2030, a national multi-sector collaboration aimed at improving water supply (particularly in rural small towns, sanitation in public places with focus on eradicating open defecation. The collaborative or partnership intervention model between major stakeholders including the federal, state, LGAs, communities, donor agencies, development partners and private sector towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria.

The first phase between 2016-2020 water supply would cost N108billion, sanitation 72billion; phase II between 2021-2025, water supply would cost N130billion, sanitation cost N86billion; Phase III 2026-2030 water supply would cost N147billion, sanitation would cost N97billion.

The total Phase I to III 2016-2030 water supply would cost N386 billion, sanitation cost N302billion. The expected soft outcomes include improved water sector coordination, institutionalized water sector financing framework, operational monitoring and evaluation framework. The hard outcomes include functional toilets in public areas of both rural areas and small towns.

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