FG pledges integrated water management for sustainability, economic development

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Abuja.

The Federal Government has pledged to implement the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) principle to improve the quality and quantity of the nations’ surface and groundwater resources.

The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, said this in a news conference in commemoration of the 2023 World Rivers Day in Abuja on Monday.

Utsev said the IWRM principle ensures sustainable management of available water resources for the present and future needs of the people.

He said it would facilitate better water management in actualising and harnessing of both surface and groundwater to support the nation’s socio-economic growth.

According to him, the negative impacts of climate change on ecosystems and water resources has become imperative to urgently develop appropriate strategies for efficient management of scarce water resources.

Utsev said in spite of government’s efforts to improve potable water supply to all Nigerians, the national access to water supply is still about 67 per cent, which is below the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target of 100 per cent by 2030.  

The dismal coverage, he said was attributable to a variety of factors, such as under-utilisation of impounded water in the dam reservoirs, inadequate funding and low private sector investment in the sector.

“You will also agree with me that the prevailing extreme climate events such as flooding and drought are already having some serious adverse effects on the nation.

“Some of the obvious effects of climate change include the drying up of water bodies such as the Lake Chad, River Gongola and River Kaduna in Nigeria are gradually changing from perennial to seasonal.

“Over abstraction of groundwater with evidence of groundwater mining in Borno, Yobe and other states; Reduction in the operational capacities of major dams in the country such as Kanji and Shiroro

Dams.

“Degradation in the quality of available fresh water, Flooding, Degradation of aquatic life, Ravaging poverty, Incessant conflicts over access to water among others,” he said.

The minister said to address some of these issues, the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources had constructed 260 dams across the country.

He said the Ministry has also impounded nearly 70 Billion Cubic Meters of bulk water in dam reservoirs for multipurpose uses in water supply, sanitation, irrigation, hydropower generation and others.

He however urged all Nigerians to be advocates in saving the nations rivers, saying indiscriminate dumping of toxic products, wastes and plastics, should be stopped.

He said there was the need to engender best practices in catchment management to safeguard river basins in order to protect the dam reservoirs from the rising challenge of Siltation.

Utsev, however, pledged to build the capacity of its professionals responsible for river monitoring and management to diligently carry out their duties efficiently, saying this would institutionalise best practices in water management.

Dr Didi Walson-Jack, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said many rivers are facing severe and increasing threats associated with climate change, pollution, urbanisation, population growth and industrial development.

This, she noted are the reasons why efforts are needed to be scaled up towards river remediation, protection and conservation for the present and future generations.

“Please, permit me to emphasise the need for us as river advocates, to synergise and collectively ramp up effort towards protecting our rivers, because it is the major source of fresh water for life sustenance,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Victor Orjiako, Representative of the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission, said the commission would key into programs that promote sustainable health of all rivers.

He said the commission had developed the Water Source Protection Policy and conducted studies on river health assessment of River Kaduna and others.

Mr Stephen Jabo, representing the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, noted the importance of rivers for livelihood, transportation, agricultural production and animals.

He said the agency would continue to provide veritable hydrological data and information necessary for the protection and debt of the nation’s river courses.

“There are many things you can do to protect rivers, such as reducing water consumption, planting trees along river banks, avoiding pesticides and herbicides,” he said.

Highlight of the event was the ceremonial tree planting at the riverbank and cleaning of the Jabi Lake.

Abuja365 reports that the World Rivers Day highlights the importance of rivers and raises awareness and encourage people to preserve them.

The 2023 theme is: ‘The Incredible Natural, Cultural and Re-Creational Values of Rivers, Lakes and Streams in our Communities’. 

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