Nigeria needs N350 billion yearly to meet water and sanitation target, says the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Ochekpe.
Ochekpe said this in Abuja at an event to mark the 2013 World Water Day. She said that available statistics had shown that only 60 per cent of the population had access to safe drinking water while 32 per cent had access to sanitation facilities.
According to her, this falls short of MDGs target of 75 per cent and 65 per cent for water and sanitation respectively. Ochekpe stressed that water and sanitation services were platforms for inter-sector collaboration and partnership among relevant institutions. The minister noted that sectors such as power, agriculture, environment, health and education needed water as an essential ingredient in the transformation agenda programme.
She, therefore, urged all stakeholders to play their expected roles so that the water sector would be positioned effectively to achieve the MDGs target by 2015, the vision 20:2020 and the Africa water target.
The minister also underscored the fact that with the nation’s growing population, access to quality drinking water and sanitation had become a challenge. This challenge, she said, could not be tackled by the government alone, especially with the lean resources and competing needs, hence, the need for cooperation.
The minister further stressed the need to improve the sector’s performance and to expand the water infrastructure to meet all demands. “Nigeria is blessed with abundant water resources potential estimated at 267 billion cubic litres of surface water and 92 billion cubic litres of underground water,” Ochekpe said.
Earlier, Mr Michael Ojo, the Country Representative of WaterAid, an international NGO, said that his organisation would join the subscribers of `End Water Poverty’ and `Keep Your Promises Alliance’ to call on decision makers to stick to pledges they had made. “Making access to water and sanitation a priority and ensuring improved access beyond the 2015 MDGs deadline is a key priority for WaterAid as I’m sure it is for everyone here.”
According to him, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is launching a WaterAid report called ‘Everyone Everywhere’ at a UN event on water in The Hague, The Netherlands, as part of activities to commemorate the day. Ojo, therefore, urged all present to sign a petition banner for the ‘Keep Your Promises Campaign’ as part of their cooperation on this year’s World Water Day celebration. In her goodwill message, Ms Irina Bokova, the UNESCO Director-General advocated for a stronger water governance between and within states.
“Cooperation must be our key word; this is essential to preserve our ecosystem, to eradicate poverty and to advance social equity, including gender equality. Women are key actors, we must empower them fully with the rights to match their responsibilities.” Bokova said that ensuring equality in access to and control over water resources was important for the well-being of current and future generations. The theme for this year’s celebration is “International Year of Water Cooperation”.