Speaking at the National Retreat on Revitalizing Urban Water Supply and Sanitation, on Thursday in Abuja, the number two citizen said the water demand-supply gap in the urban areas should not be allowed to continue as the population increases.
According to him, clean portable water for human consumption and other uses together with adequate sanitation are critical factors for socio-economic development that cannot be overemphasized.
He stated that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari placed priority on infrastructure development including those of water supply and sanitation towards ensuring better life for the people.
According to him; “from the inception of this administration, we have demonstrated serious commitment to the development of the water sector by first of all preserving the ministry of water resources and appointing a seasoned engineer as the minister.
“Our country is vast with increasing rate of urbanisation, recent indices for water supply and sanitation access calls on government at all levels to redouble their efforts and work in synergy towards meeting the nation’s water supply and sanitation demands”.
He urged the participant of the retreat to think outside the box and come out with practical solutions that will rapidly improve access to pipe born water and adequate sanitation in the urban areas, appreciating world bank and other development partners for their support to the water sector.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, noted that the Nigeria constitution allowed the issues of water supply and sanitation services to be handled by the three tiers of government and in pursuance of this, the Federal Executive Council as well as the National Economic Council approved the National Water Supply and Sanitation Policy in 2000.
The minister lamented that the laudable objective of the Water Sanitation Policy had not been met 17 years down the line, calling for serious review of the policy with a view to fashioning out model that will enhance more collaborative efforts of all the three tiers of government and to promote private sector participation and access to other sources of funding the urban water supply and sanitation.
Adamu, who quoted a summary of the ‘Nigeria Wash Diagnostic Report’ launched by Prof. Osinbanjo, said, “Nigeria’s water sector faces significant challenge with 61% of Nigerians having access to improved water, but only 31% have access to improved water on premises.
“Access to pipe water on the premises in urban areas has declined from 32% in 1990 to 7% in 2015. In the case of sanitation, only 29% of Nigeria have access to improve sanitation. The report went further to highlight that public expenditure in water and sanitation is limited and we need to invest at least three times more than we do to achieve the SDGs in Wash’’.
In his opening remarks, World Bank Country Director, Mr. Rachid Benmessaoud, said “Improving management of water resources is key to the water security of Nigeria and to the country’s economic and social development. We hope today’s retreat can trigger a call for urgent remobilization and action of all stakeholders to address the water and sanitation sector emergency in Nigeria”.
In his welcome address, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Dr Musa Ibrahim, said that the retreat couldn’t have come at a better time than now when Nigeria’s urban water supply and sanitation sectors was experiencing serious challenge of widening supply demand gap resulting in many inhabitants of urban areas not having access to potable water supply and adequate sanitation.