News Column

So Much Money but No Water

May 13, 2014

Alex Abutu

In the last decade, Nigeria has benefited from goodwill of the international communities and donor agencies in the area of enhancing access to safe and clean water for the average man.

Within this time, the World Bank supported water projects in Kaduna, Ogun, Enugu, Lagos, Cross River, Rivers, Ekiti, Bauchi and nine other states to the tune of $750 million while the African Development Bank (ADB) also supported water project in about five states to the tune of $277 million.

Mrs Baraba Barokee, ADB Deputy Country Director, noted at a stakeholders meeting in Abuja recently that the bank was undertaking over seven water projects in the country currently worth over $750 million.

The French government through its agencies operating in the country had also invested over $150 million in supporting water projects in the states.

JICA, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, has also supported water projects in Nigeria up to the tune of $100 million.

Inspite of all this support, rural dwellers were so excited at the commencement of the 2014 raining season saying it was a blessing for a lot of families who depended on rains as their source of drinking water having paid dearly for water through water vendors during the dry season.

However, the recent reports from experts have noted that rain water is not as clean and safe as we had thought.

According to WaterAid, the international NGO championing the course for improved access to safe and clean water, over 63.2 million Nigerians lacked access to safe water.

112 million Nigerians don't have access to adequate sanitation in Nigeria.

97,000 children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation in Nigeria.

It is a notable fact that most of these people without access to safe water and adequate sanitation are poor and live in remote rural areas or urban slums where international support for water are targeted.

Minister of Water Resources Mrs Sarah Reng Ochekpe noted recently that most of the projects been implemented in states with international support are not doing well.

She noted that information and data at the disposal of the ministry indicated that most of the states benefiting from World Bank support have not achieved the much envisaged sustainability status in terms of appropriate institutional framework, financial viability and reliable service to customers.

She said that the federal government had supported states with the development of state water supply and sanitation policy and law, development of financial model as a tool to assist the utilities management for decision making, development of low-income water household service strategy and strengthening of the urban water sector reform project to increase access to water.

According UNICEF no fewer than 768 million lacked access to safe drinking water globally. The 2013 Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey published the National Bureau of Statistics showed that nearly 70 million Nigerians lacked access to safe water in 2011.

The statement placed Nigeria as the third country globally with most people without access to safe water.

It added that through appropriate technologies that do not rely on electricity, water facilities that are easy to operate and maintain a greater number of disadvantaged people can be provided with safe water.

"Every child in Nigeria deserves access to safe water and thereby, a chance to survive and thrive," it said.

It also stated that with support from the EU and UKAid, over 1.9 million people in rural areas had gained access to safe water in its Water and Sanitation Hygiene schools' programme.

According to the World Bank, in 2010 water production facilities in Nigeria were "rarely operated to capacity due to broken down equipment, or lack of power or fuel for pumping." The operating cost of water agencies is pushed up by the need to rely on diesel generators or even having to build their own power plants, since power supply is erratic. Equipment and pipes are poorly maintained, leading to intermittent supply and high levels of non-revenue water.

As we continue to rely on international support to increase access to safe and clean water there is the need for a renewed synergy between the federal government and states especially in the monitoring of internationally supported project to ensure that the aim of delivering clean and safe water for the average Nigerian is met.

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Source: AllAfrica

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