“Achieving the water global goal would have multiple benefits, including laying the foundations for food and energy security, sustainable urbanisation, and ultimately, climate security.”
– UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said on January 21 2016.
Then President Goodluck Jonathan was worried in 2011 that many Nigerians had no access to drinking water.
Jonathan was apprehensive that in accord with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), 75 percent of Nigerians were supposed to have access to safe drinking water by 2015.
Madam Sarah Ochekpe, then minister of water resources, buttressed that Nigeria was on track to attain the 75 percent target.
The MDG office figuring representation, said, $2.5 billion (about N375 billion) was needed to meet the country’s water and sanitation targets between 2011 and 2015.
Government noted that an additional N200 billion was vital to provide bonus development in Dams with hydropower elements amongst others.
Water and sanitation quandaries were among the chief problems that were besetting Nigeria.
The United Nations said that over 340,000 workers died every year because of inadequate water supply and sanitation; 1.5 billion people were employed in water-related sectors.
The international body added that, that was due to quantity and the quality of water direct impact on workers’ lives and health.
The body believed that the livelihoods of many workers such as fishermen depend on the quality of the freshwater.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for water and sanitation opined that it was going to take Nigeria 28 years for this target for drinking and freshwater to be met.
The opinion was hinged on lackadaisical experiences gotten in the leadership of the country as had been exhibited in the past. The JMP reports showed that an increase of about 11 percent in access to improved water supply in Nigeria was experienced between 1990 and 2010 and less than 58 percent of population had access to potable water.
The UN JMP was nervous that the country could only attain its set goal of 75 percent coverage by 2015, increasing by 17 percentage points within the next three years (which elapsed in 2015).
Launching Of Water Road-map
Upset by the prediction made by the UN, the Federal Government (FG) of Nigeria in January 2011 launched a water road-map that described the country’s readiness for water resources between 2011 and 2025.
“The plan includes the promises that 75 percent of Nigerians will have access to potable water by 2015, and 90 percent by 2020. They include drilling one motorized borehole in each of the 109 Senatorial Districts, rehabilitating 1,000 dysfunctional hand pump boreholes in 18 states, supplying and installing 10 special water treatment plants, and completing all abandoned urban/semi-urban water supply projects,” according to the water road-map.
Juanita During, Head of Policy, Advocacy and Partnership at the African Centre for Water and Sanitation, described the government’s funding approach as “unpredictable and poorly targeted” following the launch of the roadmap.
The acting country representative for WaterAid during the time, Timeyin Uwejamomere said that the country had a shortfall and that shortfall was giving the country the feeling that it would take another 28 years to make that shortfall and it had only three years to go.
Uwejamomere, however, opened up to say that the country had some issues of “legislation, structure, finance, planning and attitudes” but being issues that the country could control.
There were abandoned water projects in the past of which was captured in the words of Ochekpe, saying, the Ministry of Water Resources was focusing on completion of abandoned water projects and repairs of basic infrastructure such as hand pumps and motorized boreholes.
At a point, the World Bank task team leader for community-based and urban development in Nigeria, Hassan Kida was telling the water resource ministry that Nigeria had “a long way to go” to reach her water goals.
“In several meetings we’ve had with the ministry of water resources, I tell them that you still have a lot of work to do in the sense that nobody knows what is happening there in the field. Putting in the infrastructure is not a big deal but managing the infrastructure that is the biggest deal,” Kida said.
Headship of UN Water
A World Bank study accounted that it costs N150 on the ordinary to generate a litre of clean drinking water in Nigeria, yet consumers in some states were billed as little as N25 for 1000 liters of potable water.
It was observed that the government was affording a gigantic subsidy, but consumers were supremely unacquainted.
During the Water Day 2016 with the theme “Better Water, Better Jobs”, the Director General of International Labour Organisation (ILO), Mr. Guy Ryder was on the board of global wakefulness as the Chairman of UN-Water for the year’s celebration.
The United Nations General Assembly in 1993 selected March 22 as the first World Water Day; a day to build in the people’s consciousness about water.
The Day was first officially wished-for in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that €44.75 Million (N9 billion) had been signed by the European Union and UNICEF for Health, Water Supply and Sanitation Projects in Plateau, Ekiti, Adamawa and Kebbi States.
“The European Union (EU) and UNICEF have signed a five-year contribution agreement for a Rural Water and Sanitation Project in Plateau, Ekiti and Adamawa States worth €14.75 million (about N3 billion) as well as a four-year contribution agreement worth €30 million (about N6.75 billion) to scale up improvement in Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Kebbi and Adamawa states. This is a follow up to the corresponding Financing Agreements signed on 30 April 2013 between the Government of Nigeria and European Union to strengthen their collaborative partnership and development agenda,” the report said.
Ryder was of the conviction that water is work that requires workers for its safe and clean delivery and at the same time, it can create work and improve conditions of work; even though he intoned that there is no life without water and the fact that contact to water bolsters all cracks to accomplish sustainable development was unquestionable.
In the words of Ryder, “What is not so often said is that the availability and sustainable management of water has a clear and direct link with the creation of quality jobs. World Water Day provides a unique opportunity to highlight this relationship, under the 2016 theme ‘Water and jobs.”
The ILO chieftain added, “Almost half of the world’s workers, 1.5 billion, work in water related sectors and nearly all jobs depend on water and those that ensure its safe delivery.
“Water can contribute to a greener economy and sustainable development. But for this to happen, we need more workers that are qualified to realize the potential of new, green technologies. And we need those workers to have decent work that provides dignity, equality, safety and a fair income.”
ILO had sponsored and financed the National Action Plan on Employment Creation 2009-2020, to stem the excessive unemployment/underemployment situation in Nigeria.
By January 2016, the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon convened an emergency pane of heads of state to speed a political answer to the world’s increasing scarcity of water.
At a special session of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Ki-moon, who announced the formation of the panel alongside the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, said, “Water is a precious resource, crucial to realising the sustainable development goals, which at their heart aim to eradicate poverty. The new panel can help motivate the action we need to turn ideas into reality.”
The panel which was said would meet regularly between now and 2018, according to the UN, would be chaired by the presidents of Mexico and Mauritius, Enrique Peña Nieto and Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.
“We are already seeing elements of water scarcity coming through – not just because of climate change, but [because of] over-abstraction. We are seeing stress points – social tensions or conflicts over a lack of access to water,” said Dominic Waughray, head of public-private partnerships at the World Economic Forum.
The Head of Programme, Oxfam in Nigeria, Mr. Constant Tchona said during the 2016 water day, that 112 million people are without access to improved sanitation.
Concluding the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme of WSSSRP-I and Support to Reforming Institutions (SRIP II) in July 2011 and December 2012 respectively, the European Union scaffolded the Nigerian Government’s efforts in Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme (WSSSRP), building sturdy establishments and schemes for successful and maintainable services delivery in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) segment.
By 2014, WaterAid welcomed a UN campaign championed by UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson to end the practice of open defecation, saying that over one billion people around the world ease themselves “in bushes, in fields or at the sides of roads or railway tracks for lack of even a basic, shared pit in the ground.”
The campaign which was expected to last till 2015, the WHO/UNICEF JMP figures pointed-toward that about 122 million Nigerians did not have access to enhanced sanitation and astounding 39 million (23 per cent of the population) practice open defecation.
“It is time for a drastic change to the status quo. It is hard to believe that in this day and age, people must still risk their health and dignity for the lack of a basic toilet.
“It’s even more difficult for girls and women who risk danger and harassment every time they go in search of a private place to relieve themselves.
“Safe water and basic sanitation has to be a top priority in effectively tackling extreme poverty. We call upon our leaders to take action,” said Dr. Michael Ojo, Country Representative of WaterAid Nigeria, 2014.
Nigeria’s Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, who was appointed as the new Chair of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), a United Nations body devoted to the sanitation and hygiene of people in vulnerable communities, with the appointment becoming effective from April 5, 2016, said, “By improving sanitation and hygiene at scale in sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, in particular, the Council is playing an important role in improving education and health, and in empowering women. I am proud to Chair an organization that understands that equality and universality must go hand-in-hand towards achieving a sustainable development agenda.”
UN With State Governors
On August 23 2015, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was in Abuja, where he met state Governors to ginger them to play a “fundamental role” in determining the future of Nigeria.
“You have the resources and the power to help the people of Nigeria realize the tremendous promise of this great country – on education, on health care, on women’s empowerment, on climate change, on governance, institution-building, security and on rights across the board,” stated Ban.
He pointed out that the UN Member States agreed on a new financing for development plan and on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which the latter was to be properly approved by world leaders in New York, September 2015, while governments would meet in Paris by December. The UN’s agenda was “of the people, for the people, and by the people” that will leave no one last.
Funding Environmental Facility
In 2009, the UNDP had launched and funded the Global Environment Facility (GEF), GEF-SGP implemented on behalf of the GEF partnership through the support of the National Steering Committee (NSC).
GEF-SGP Nigeria supported non-governmental and community-based organizations in Nigeria to protect the environment while generating sustainable livelihoods for the poor and marginalized in developing countries.
The programme was executed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), with presence in over 25 states and more than 110 community based projects.
GEF crucial areas include; Biodiversity, Climate change, International Waters, Land Degradation and persistent Organic Pollutants. Within the period, over 150,000 poor rural dwellers, (65% women and 35% men) benefitted directly from SGP intervention.
There was a report suggesting, “50% of beneficiary communities have either never experienced or benefitted from any development support or participated in such a way as allowed by SGP. Over 10 SGP projects have been up-scaled/replicated.”
On the menu of the report: Biodiversity, “Over 500 indigenous plant species are currently being conserved. Supported establishment of Community Forest Management Committees and capacity building for forest protection and to enhance indigenous knowledge of biodiversity and revive interest in traditional medicinal values of plants species.
“In-situ conservation of the critically endangered Sclater Guenon monkey (Cercopithecus sclater), endemic to southern Nigeria and internationally rated No. 4 in the 2006 IUCN global Red Data list of endangered species of fauna. Protection and restoration of over 1,000,306 and 10,000 hectares of land respectively.”
UN Applauding Nigeria
By May 2014, the UN applauded Nigeria’s water sector, and pledged more support. The commendation was contained in a letter of appreciation signed by the UN Deputy Secretary General and forwarded to the then Minister of Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe, as part of the outcome of Eliasson’s visit to Nigeria in March 2014, where they discussed issues relating to water and sanitation.
Eliasson said: “My visit confirmed the great strides forward that the Government of Nigeria, not least through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, is making towards ensuring access to clean water and adequate sanitation in the country. I commend your dedication as Minister of Water Resources, and reaffirm the continued support of the United Nations in your work.
“Nigeria continues to demonstrate its pivotal role for both the development and the security agenda in Africa. The Secretary- General and I look forward to continuing our dialogue with you and your Government as we work together to achieve our common objectives.”
By Odimegwu Onwumere
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State based poet, writer and consultant and winner, in the digital category, Nordica Media Merit Awards 2016. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: email@example.com