Nigeria seeks ECOWAS unity to enhance regional water supply

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Nigerian Government has called on member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to unite in their efforts to improve water supply in the region.

Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, made this call at the 5th Ordinary Session of the Ministerial Monitoring Committee (MMC) of the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in West Africa on Friday in Abuja.

Utsev said West Africa was blessed with abundance water resources and commended the Water Resources Management Centre (WRMC) for choosing Nigeria to host the meeting.

According to him, if properly harnessed and coordinated, it will serve as a cornerstone for development; impacting positively on health, education, tourism, food security and energy.

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“However, lack of proper coordination will lead to underdevelopment and conflict among countries because activities of one country at the upstream could constitute danger to other countries downstream.

“Permit me at this juncture to emphasise on the need for unity amongst member states in the West African sub-region.

“There is a saying that “teamwork makes the dream work”, this can also be said about our sub-region.

“To truly see growth in the sub-region; we need to be united and work as a team especially when it comes to the management of our water resources, both surface and underground.’’

The minister said the sub-region had great potential and, by working together, could address challenges like climate change, poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Utsev thanked the Water Resources Management Centre (WRMC) for selecting Nigeria as one of the few West African countries to benefit from the 2024 ECOWAS Special Project for Access to Drinking Water in Rural Areas.

“We are grateful for this privilege and will use our expertise to ensure the project is delivered seamlessly,’’ he said.

Earlier, Dr Omar Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, represented by Mr Sediko Douka, ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy, and Digitisation, expressed gratitude to Nigerian President, Bola Tinubu for hosting the event.

He noted West African states’ ongoing dedication to Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), which began in 1998 after the UN Conference on Environment and Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro.

According to him, this commitment led to the adoption of a Regional IWRM Action Plan in 2000 and the establishment of a Permanent Coordination and Monitoring Framework (PCMF) in 2001.

Touray said the relationship between challenges in the water and energy sectors, emphasising the urgency to expedite projects that provide clean water and sanitation.

He called for technical and financial support for a regional programme focused on improving access to clean water in rural and peri-urban areas.

Touray expressed appreciation to the Nigerian government for hosting the meeting and expressed confidence that the discussions would be a significant milestone for implementing IWRM in West Africa.

He also thanked the Chairman of the Ministerial Committee for his leadership in the PCMF.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Abuja meeting, held nearly nine years after the last session in Dakar, Senegal.

It aims to rejuvenate the PCMF and evaluate the implementation of the West Africa Water Resources Policy (WAWRP), adopted in 2008.

The WAWRP is a distinctive initiative aimed at developing a unified sectoral policy among West African regional organisations.(NAN)

By Tosin Kolade

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