It gives me great pleasure to address you at this very important Validation Workshop to discuss “the Draft NationalWater Source Protection Policy’’, developed by seasoned water resources experts under the supervision of Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission. I welcome all participants to Abuja, Nigeria.
- While Nigeria appears to have abundant water resources, its sustainability is threatened by land degradation, deforestation, rapid population growth and other socio–economic development as well as climate change, which has placed tremendous pressure on our water resources. Like all critical infrastructure, the technological and national security environment in whichNigeria’s Dam and reservoir infrastructure are operated and maintained continue to evolve over time. New threats to the continued reliability and integrity of all infrastructure require vigilance; therefore, theareas of possible focus by owners and operators shouldinclude; surveillance detection, identification of site-related vulnerabilities (e.g. access control, operational security, and cyber security measures), emergency response/prevention issues, and functionality issues governed by interdependencies with other infrastructure.
- To address security issues related to Water Source, a partnership approach is being proposed, involving Federal, State, Local, or Communal government entities; private sector owners, operators and representative organizations; academic and professional bodies; and certain not-for-profit and private volunteer organizations that share in the responsibility for protecting the Nation’s critical sector assets.
- Nigeria’s challenge to the protection of our water sources and management includes among others; fragmented sectoral development that led to near neglect of protecting our water sources; the country has diverse river basin settings, some wet, some dry and having changing socio-economic demands with which resource management has not kept pace; poor database and information management; and institutions with conflicting mandate which makes them referees and players in the water sector, thus creating problems of accountability and transparency. As we all know, protecting of water sources is critical to the sustenance of life and this means the adequate management of our water sources in an integrated manner is an important element to human livelihood as well as being key to prosperity.
- In Nigeria, there are extensive forested areas and wetlands, which act as stores of water and perform water purification functions.However, increasing population density and demand for land for agriculture, settlement and industrial establishments has led to their widespread degradation. The resulting farm bush landscape is poor at retaining and purifying water and this leads to rapid water runoff, soil erosion and water shortages. Even though much of Nigeria has a high annual rainfall, with an average of 1200mm per year, water shortages in the dry season are increasingly common. Protection of water catchment areas, the areas that drain into the water source, is therefore crucial to retain water and to ensure sufficient water supply throughout the year. In general, there is widespread and increasing activity that is potentially harmful to Nigerian’s water environment and water infrastructure. This appears to be due to a combination of increasing population with little or no access to improved sanitation, and problems caused by inappropriate land and wetland uses, and poor quality discharges from industry.
- Protection of water catchments in Nigeria especially those densely populated is no longer an option but a requirement. Compromised or degraded water catchments mean that societies that depend on them have either limited access to a sustainable source of water or consume contaminated water. Agencies responsible for the provision of drinking water to such communities often resort to expensive water abstraction technologies or complex treatment processes to render the water safe but such treatment comes at great cost to the societies and consumers of the water. In addition, water catchment protection can save money through lower costs for medication for water borne diseases and less sickness in the society.
- The conventional approach to ensuring high quality water in public water supply systems is the construction and use of water treatment facilities at the point of abstraction. While this is generally effective, there is a capital and on-going cost associated with these systems. Therefore, it is in the interest of the water utility (and end water user) that the quality of water being pumped from the environment is the best possible. The dirtier the water is, the more intensive (and expensive) it is to treat to an acceptable potable quality. Even then, there may still be residual problems with micro-pollutants that are difficult to remove effectively. Water treatment systems are designed to handle incoming water quality within defined parameters. If there is a trend of water quality decline then this can reduce the lifetime of infrastructure or increase the need for further capital expenditure on more intensive water treatment, such as micro-filtration. The quantity of water available for human use is affected by a number of complex factors, both natural and manmade. Specifically, soil erosion due to deforestation and unsuitable farming practices is a widespread problem, which reduces the ability of a catchment to store water and buffer river flows, spring discharges and groundwater levels between wet and dry seasons.
- A conventional engineering approach would be to move the abstraction point, or drill a deeper borehole, to maintain or increase the water yield. However, in some cases this option may not be financially, legally or technically viable. There are many complex factors that may, or may not, influence the quality of water abstracted from a borehole, or from a river or lake. It is not possible to engineer the same level of centralized control on environmental water quality as it is with a water treatment facility. However, improving environmental water quality has multiple benefits for all water users in a given catchment.
- It is therefore in the interests of all stakeholders including domestic water consumers, farmers, fishermen, foresters and industries to have a high quality, unpolluted water environment. However, if responsibilities, actions, regulation and financing are unclear then general water quality decline is likely to continue.
- This Policy Framework provides for professional and efficient management of all surface and underground water sources for the use of all (i.e. for domestic and non-domestic use, irrigation, agricultural purposes, generation of hydro-electric power, navigation, fisheries, and recreation, as well as ecosystem maintenance). The Federal Government intends to ensure through provisions of the law that all water sources of the Nation are, through regulation, protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all persons in accordance with its constitutional mandate.
- There is need to assist stakeholders in the sector and the general populace to fully appreciate the very useful provision of this policy framework. It is note-worthy that this policy framework provides for the creation of an enabling environment for Public and Private Sector Investments. It also provides for capacity building process to foster good governance, whilst establishing a water use and license framework to ensure sustainable financing for Water Sector Development through tariffs, including creation of an enabling climate for increased private sector participation in service delivery through Public Private Partnership Management Contract.
- You may wish to be informed that efforts are being geared towards the passage of the enabling Bill currently going through the normal Legislative process in the National Assembly and when the Bill is eventually passed, all the various efforts by this Commission will be able to be sustained.
- Judging from the high calibre of participants invited to this workshop, I am sure your valuable contributions will greatly contribute to the finalization of this policy framework. I therefore, urge all participants to contribute meaningfully to all the discussions.
- Distinguished participants, Ladies and gentlemen, let me express my deep appreciation to eminent stakeholders for their continued support towards developments in the water sector.
- While wishing you very successful deliberations, it is my honour and privilege to declare open this workshop.
- Thank you and God bless.