Minister of Water Resources Suleiman Adamu says the ministry will declare national emergency actions to resolve the shortage of potable water across the country.
This decision was the thrust of the ministry’s national retreat on National Action Plan for the Revitalisation of Nigeria’s Water and Sanitation sector held in Abuja.
The minister said that the call became necessary following the result of the World Bank Diagnostic Report which raised a serious concern of decline in the quality and accessibility of water supply sector in the country.
He also expressed concern about pipe-borne water situation in the country, describing the situation as worrisome.
He noted that the proliferation of sachet and bottle-water factories around the country was an indication that there was a crisis in the sector.
“We are worried about the lack of potable water, even at this event; we see how bottle water is placed on every table.
“I remember when we attended the World Water Week in Stockholm, we were given empty water bottles when we registered, all you need to do was to open the taps around and fetch water to drink.
“This is why we can’t continue like this, it is a national emergency,’’ Adamu said.
According to him, without an action plan to revitalise the water sector, Nigeria may find it difficult to meet the Sustainable Development Goals on Water and Sanitation by 2030.
Adamu recalled that the National Council on Water Resources made recommendations in 2017on the need to pursue a strategy on deliberate repositioning of the water supply sector.
He said that the draft action plan proposed included the clarification of the roles of all stakeholders, continuous capacity building, regulation of informal players and improving strategies to increase access to water.
He said that the retreat was an opportunity for all stakeholders to seek ways to find lasting solutions to the current crisis in the water resources sector.
Mr Benson Ajisegiri, Director, Water Supply with the ministry, said the nation’s Action Plan for the Revitalisation of Nigeria’s Water and Sanitation sector was in crisis, with urban access to water declining from 32 per cent in 1990 to 10 per cent on 2015.
He said no fewer than 40 per cent of the water schemes was non-functional, with poor power supply, non-payment of water levies, lack of water governance and poor political will from leaders.
He said that it was saddening to note that state water agencies lacked political prioritisation and funding to maintain infrastructure and pay salaries, resulting in the abandonment of many water projects.
Ajisegiri said the ministry was coordinating donor-support interventions and the partnerships for expanded water and sanitation programmes to improve access to water and sanitation in the country.
Dr Luis Andres, Lead Economist, Water Global Practice, World Bank, said the sector in the country was in serious crisis that needed immediate interventions.
Andres commended the Federal Government on its programmes to improve the sector but noted that stronger collaboration would help the sector in resolving the crisis.