TO MARK THE
THEME: VALUING WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT AND EXPLOITATION
IN NIGERIA: – LINKAGES BETWEEN WATER AND DEVELOPMENT?
Being a press release from the National Chairman of the
Nigerian Institution of Water Engineers (NIWE),
Engr. Chinyere Nnenna Igwegbe, FNSE, FNIWE
in celebration of the Y2021 World Water Day.
Though every March 22nd is reserved for the global celebration of World Water Day, this year’s
celebration is unique, given its theme “Valuing Water” and the first to be superintended by the first
female National Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Water Engineers. (NIWE). Since my
coming onboard, We have tried to engage many leading stakeholders, on how best to manage
Nigeria’s water resources for sustainability and continued National Development. In celebrating
the 2021 World Water Day, the NIWE organized National Ideation Hub for talent hunt, held in
Abuja, and the winning school will be presented with a trophy by the Hon. Minster of Water
Resources. This is targeted at catching the students young and inculcating into them the love for
water and the need for valuing water and caring for it. The Institution led by the National Chairman
also held a television interview with the Kaftan TV in Abuja, where issues pertaining to valuing
water and its management in Nigeria were specially discussed. Several awareness programmes
and technical sessions were equally organized in many states of the country, as the need to
sustainably manage our finite water resources cannot be overemphasized.
Water as a key to social-economic development, and environmental integrity, must be treated both
as a resource and a sector. Water as a sector needs infrastructure development and operational
funds. As a resource, it cuts across many sectors and needs integrated approaches to management.
Financing, monitoring and infrastructure are well known as high priority management issues
facing the governments of the day. While water development is crucial to economic and social
development, these developments in turn increase the use of water with attendant environmental
consequences. There are therefore interlinkages of natural resource pressures in water, energy and
food, and advanced efforts to move beyond conventional sector thinking. Agreed that water is
critical for agriculture, ecosystem services and energy; water and the services it provides have
Nigerian Institution of Water Engineers
become threatened by climate change, population growth, degrading water quality and extreme
hydrological events. Climate change is altering temperature and therefore precipitation patterns
around the world, with drier regions tending to become even drier. A lot of studies have established
that there is a connection between hydrologic extremes and economic losses. This
notwithstanding, developing are still at the infantry stages of executing programmes to address
water-related disasters and climate change impacts.
It is pertinent to note that the sustainable management of water resources is indeed, crucial to the
development of a society, given the key roles water plays in many aspects of human endeavour,
such as for domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural and recreational purposes. Developed
nations have a long history of heavy investment in water institutions and infrastructure. They have
also, invested heavily, overtime, on their capacity to manage water resources satisfactorily. On the
contrary, less developed countries are characterised by weak institutions, inadequate water
infrastructure, and poor water governance. Due to the increasing demand on water resources,
which are finite, it is imperative to examine how these water resources can be well managed for
continued national development. The total renewable water resources (TRWR) per capita in
Nigeria has been estimated to be 2514 m3/year. This notwithstanding, only about 69 per cent of
Nigerians have access to basic water supply service, whereas in countries like Tunisia with far less
TRWR per capita, nearly all the citizens have access to potable water supply.
The poor access to water supply and the continued depletion of the available water resources, show
that there are critical issues with the manner water resources are managed in Nigeria. In the current
time, the Federal Ministry of Water resources superintends over all water resources development
and management, via other smaller departments and agencies. However, sectoral interests and
ineffective coordination among stakeholders, hinder effective water resources management,
leading to over-abstraction, wastage of water resources, and environmental pollution.
Furthermore, although Nigeria has vast freshwater resources estimated at 286.2 km3/year, these
resources, geographically, are not evenly distributed and are affected by seasonal variation. More
still, a huge increase in population and urbanisation are putting severe pressure on the available
water resources, resulting in competition across multiple sectors for water resources and access to
water being restricted even in areas where water is abundant in the country.
The purpose of this press conference is therefore to
emphasize the need for a paradigm shift in water
management from the traditional, sectoral approach to
integrated water resources management (IWRM) with the
hope that it will translate to sustainable use of water
resources, if implemented to the latter.
I therefore implore us all to value water and care for it, so
that it can in turn, sustain us and subsequent generations.
Engr. Chinyere Nnenna Igwgebe FNSE FNIWE
Nigerian Institution of Water Engineers (NIWE)