The improvement and sustainability of good water supply is vital for all human race irrespective of status and geographical location, thus, the operationalization of the National Village Level Operation and Maintenance (VLOM) strategy becomes one sure way to improving access to water supply in rural areas.
In his keynote address, the Hon. Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman .H. Adamu FNSE, FAEng, ably represented by the Director, Water Quality, Engr. Emmanuel Awe identified that lack of maintenance and monitoring of water facilities results in frequent breakdown and abandonment of the facilities by the affected communities. Furthermore, the gap in communication between the benefiting communities and those in authority has become worrisome for efficient management of the water schemes of Federal Government which were established as interventions.
Speaking at the Sensitization Workshop On *Implementation of National Village Level Operation and Maintenance (VLOM)* strategy held in Abuja on 13th September, 2022, the Minister said, ” the National VLOM strategy is intended to address these challenges by putting facility ownership in the hands of the communities, establishing the VLOM Units as an institutionalized structure within the WASH Departments in all LGAs, establishing and creating communication channels where benefiting communities can report the status of water facility to those in authority and building the capacity of Local Area Mechanics (LAMs) with the objective of achieving 100% functionality in line with the sustainability development goal”.
While charging the participants drawn from the 36 states and FCT on the need to speedily commence the process of implementing the VLOM strategy in their respective states, Engr Adamu revealed that the Ministry in collaboration with UNICEF has operationalized the VLOM strategy in three states since 2019, under the DGIS ASWA 11 projects in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe state. He further revealed that this yielded immeasurable feat in the area of maintenance, which is worthy of replication.
The Honourable Minister stressed that the pandemic has placed more demands on stakeholders in the WASH sector, as no stone must be left unturned in ensuring that WASH infrastructures are provided and maintained.
Earlier, the Director, Water Supply, Engr. Danjuma Madaki in his opening remarks said that there is need for stakeholders to critically examine the provisions of the strategy especially the roles and responsibilities and continually engage in the discussion that will ultimately help in implementation of the VLOM. He said that the adoption of the implementation strategy will assist in ensuring that the water facilities are maintained and owned by the communities. He applauded UNICEF for their active support in the development/implementation of the National VLOM strategy.
In her presentation on *The Sustainability Challenge: Water Facilities, functionality in Nigeria and VLOM as remedy*, the UNICEF chief of WASH, Dr. Jane Bevan said that the VLOM strategy entails ownership which will determine the sustainability of the facilities. She explained that by year 2030, the goal of SDG 6.1 is that everybody will have access to clean water. Speaking further Dr Jane added that ,”water itself is free but the means of getting it across to people costs money and the finances has to come from somewhere”. Thus, the VLOM becomes a toolbox that seeks to position the community as the owner of the facility to make decisions on operation and maintenance. She further revealed that the goal of the strategy is to ensure sustainability and 100% functionality of water supply facilities in all rural communities of Nigeria.
The European Union, Mr. Yakubu Ogwuche, the NEWSAN cordinator, Mr. Attah Benson, the Team Lead-WASH Tulsi Chanrai Foundation, Syed Murshed Imam in their goodwill messages agreed that the VLOM is a credible framework geared towards Community management of water supply facilities across the Local Governments of the federation .
It is pertinent to recall that the National VLOM strategy was launched on the 25th March, 2019 to serve as a roadmap to improving access to portable water to the rural populace.
Mrs Kenechukwu Offie
Director Press and Public Relations
13th September, 2022.