Experts Chart Path to Sustainable Urban Water Supply
An expert in Water Resources Management and Director, Water Supply and Sanitation, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Abuja, Engineer Benson Ajisegiri has called on all stakeholders (governments at all level, private sector and academic institutions) to leverage on ongoing initiatives towards building and enhancing sustainable urban Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in order to tackle the water challenges being faced by the masses. He stated this while delivering the 13th annual lecture of the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology, (SEET) of the Federal University of Technology, Akure. The event held at the T. I. Francis auditorium of the university on Monday, 9th December, 2019.
Ajisegiri who titled his lecture Urban Water Supply in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects for Sustainable Services said “access to WASH services is essential to the wellbeing of every citizen and has been recognized internationally as a fundamental human right. Access to adequate WASH services means to have sufficient (quantity and quality) and efficient potable water supply on premises; appropriate, safe and secure sanitation facilities; and available handwashing equipment with soap and water.”
Speaking on the prospects for a turn around to attain a sustainable urban WASH service delivery he advocated a strong political will and support. He described political will as actions and inactions of key decision makers or political actors to produce or derail the desired results. According to him, this has hitherto been the major problem in the sustainable delivery of urban WASH in Nigeria. Ajisegiri highlighted the ongoing initiative to include national action plan for the revitalization of the urban Water Supply and Sanitation by the President. He said this was aimed at addressing open defecation by 2025 and through this it is anticipated that the much-needed political will from decision makers will improve.
Other initiatives include reforming water agencies designed to assist in establishing the enabling environment for sustainable water supply service delivery. He said the project which has the support of the World Bank and enjoying the patronage of African Development Bank, French Development Agency and USAID was designed to have the following components: Systems Rehabilitation and Expansion; Public-Private Partnerships Development; Service Sustainability, Capacity Building and Project Management; and Policy Reform and Institutional Development.
Another major initiative is Water Resources Capacity Building Network which is to ensure appropriate and sustainable manpower development for water resources development and management throughout the country; strengthen institutions and human capacity through partnerships for the successful implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management in Nigeria; enhance cooperation among Capacity Building Institutions (CBIs) in the country for Integrated Water Resources Management; and facilitate research and demand driven training and education in Integrated Water Resources Management amongst CBIs in Nigeria.
Ajisegiri said his ministry has also established a unit within the department of water supply to promote research, assessment and development of new water supply technologies and chemicals towards improving efficiency and sustainability of water supply and sanitation service delivery. This unit interfaces with research institutions and private developers by invitation to test new technologies and chemicals and thereafter promote it to water agencies nationwide.
Lending her voice, the Ondo State Commissioner for Water Resources, Public Sanitation and Hygiene, Mrs. Yetunde Adeyanju said the state governor is highly committed to providing hygienic water for the populace to complement the effort of the federal government. She said all the dams in the state are upgraded to ensure adequate supply of potable and clean water for the masses. She added that water reticulation is ongoing to extend water supply to all nook and cranny of the state.
Addressing the gathering, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic, Professor Deji Ogunsemi said the lecture aimed at appraising the state of water supply in Nigeria with a view to exploring the challenges and prospects for sustainable services. He added that it is a known fact that the gap between water need and supply has widened overtime in Nigeria’s urban centres despite continuous government efforts to develop water resources. On the current state of water resources and consumption, Fuwape said “the growing urban population has greatly affected the availability of water resources, making water scarcity in urban areas of particular concern, especially in the area of sanitation. This has brought into focus the urgent need for planned action to manage water resources effectively for sustainable development.
Professor Fuwape commended SEET for consistently adding value to the University through its modest achievements. He said “I have observed with ken interest, the various strides which the School is making in the field of engineering breakthroughs over time. The sustained successes recorded in teaching, research and community services by the School had gone a long way in projecting the name of the University in positive light the world over. The feedbacks being received from employers of graduates of engineering of our University at undergraduate and post graduate levels are quite admirable. On the international scene, our graduates are making positively different waves in various fields of human endeavours. I am therefore, always happy to be associated with the various activities of the School.”
In his welcome address, the Host and Dean, School of Engineering and Engineering Technology, (SEET), Professor Aremu Akintunde said Nigeria can truly become independent and develop if engineering and engineering related activities are accorded the pride of place. He said “in bringing to the fore the various areas where our environment is affected by engineering technology, it is imperative to constantly provide the opportunity for policy and research practitioners to meet, rub mind together, interrogate each other, feel different pulses in order to appreciate the lacuna that requires solutions.” He added that SEET is not only churning out graduates of high quality, but also leads in the generation of top-notch researches that are capable of leading Nigeria into the world of 21st century technological breakthrough.
Guests at the event included the academia, top government functionaries and other stakeholders in water resources ministry.