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Water actors canvass power decentralisation to tackle climate change

Water sector observers have underlined the over concentration of decision making power at the national level as one of the key factors that may hinder the Federal Government intervention plan to address the impact of climate change on the nation’s water resources if not properly handled.  

Climate change and water
Participants at the validation workshop in Abuja

The industry players, who gathered on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 in Abuja at a validation workshop organised by the Department of Climate Change in the Federal Ministry of Environment, to assess the Impact of Climate Change and Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Mitigation and Adaptation Interventions on Water Resources in Nigeria, want the relationship between the federal and states governments to be clearly defined to form cohesion in the implementation of water sector activities across the country.    

Another worrisome problem uncovered at the meeting was the fact that Nigeria has a weak water baseline, a major setback the group wants the reviewed master plan to capture and help improve. 

After listening to various presentations and small group discussions, the multi-sectoral participants realised that the absence of private sector involvement in the provision of water was another hurdle in the system that the government must tackle through the introduction of various incentives to attract investment into the sector. 

They urged the government to explore more opportunities in the energy; power, agriculture and water sectors to create green jobs and help reduce the growing cases of insecurity in the country. 

Other issues highlighted that the stakeholders crave the plan to look into include the collection of reliable data, construction of new hydro power plants, tax incentives for those interested in investing in solar energy; technology, as well as the establishment of a water accounting system that will regulate the use of water by all inhabitants.

“Realistically, what is happening today in Nigeria is because of the unclear relationship between the federal and states,” said Professor Emmanuel Oladipo. “This inability to cross the vertical and the horizontal linkages is a major challenge that I don’t know what anybody can do.”

The retired professor of Climatology poured out his heart when he boldly told the audience particularly representatives from the Federal Ministry of Water Resources that they must take the bull by the horn and start to do things differently from how they are currently conducted if they truly expect to see any meaningful growth in the sector.  

 “Is the potential of Nigeria in terms of people and resources not enough to enable us develop meaningfully?” he asked, wondering if Nigeria shouldn’t be one of those places that people should be rushing to visit rather than the other way round. “Why are we not developing?”

Speaking at the event, Acting Director, Department of Climate Change, Mrs. Halima Bawa-Bwari, said the DCC brought together the cross-cutting participants to set a new milestone in the management of one of the most important resources in the country; water.   

Bawa-Bwari disclosed that the reviewed document is part of the national effort to include the water sector more comprehensively in the enhanced implementation of Nigeria’s NDC.

 The plan, she explained, would assess the impact of climate change on the water resources of Nigeria with a focus of proposing key mitigation and adaptation interventions and potential commitments for the enhanced NDC that can make the water sector resilient for the country’s sustainable development.

Nigeria, according to her, still faces the challenges of ensuring proper and sustainable management of its water resources both for domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes because of the large-scale spatial inequalities in different regions of the country.

Giving a breakdown of the nation’s total water resources, she estimated that Nigeria has 215 billion m3 of surface water and 87 billion m3 groundwater resources. 

She said that, with an approximately 2.5% growth rate per year since 2000, it is estimated that between 401 and 432 million people would be living in Nigeria in 2050.

“These trends of a growing population, combined with improving lifestyle and urbanisation, collectively contribute to a growing demand for clean water that must be met following low-carbon pathways for a sustainable economy,” Bawa-Bwari submitted.

By Etta Michael Bisong, Abuja

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