Renowned personalities and friends of the earth including school children gathered recently in Lagos to observe the 12th S. L. Edu Memorial Lecture series organised by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) and Chevron Nigeria Limited, where participants underlined the need to effectively manage the nation’s water resources in order to reduce poverty.
Indeed, concrete steps were recommended at the federal, state and local government levels to value water appropriately, promote its wise use and conservation by establishing appropriate water conservation guidelines and practices for an integrated water resources management as one of the ways to achieve climate resilient water resources management for national development.
Besides, governments at all levels were urged to design and sustain water supply infrastructure based on ecological principles and adaptation to a changing climate; conduct comprehensive and continuous monitoring of surface and ground water resources to provide up-to-date information required to manage water effectively in a changing climate and advance policy reform, while championing a new water ethic in the face of changing climate.
In a presentation titled: “Climate Resilient Water Resources Management for Poverty Reduction in Nigeria”, renowned climatologist, Professor Emmanuel Oladipo, said Nigeria’s water sector is highly vulnerable to global warming-induced climate change.
Formerly of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Oladipo stated that climate extreme events cause floods and drought with dire consequences for the availability and use of water, adding that climate change has a cumulative effect on water resource balance with its effects already visible in the country.
He explained that extreme weather events that are capable of negatively affecting the country’s water resources have become more frequent in the recent past particularly, adding that the 2012 flood disaster witnessed in more than half of the states of the country is a pointer to Nigeria’s vulnerability to climate-change induced extreme weather events with long-term return periods.
Linking water resources management to poverty reduction, Oladipo argued that water management can be a catalyst for a pro-poor economic growth, particularly at local level, where it provides vital inputs into productive activities and creates opportunities for local entrepreneurs in supplying technologies, constructing facilities and providing services.
“Thus, there is a general consensus that water management has the potential to contribute to all of the MDGs (millennium development goals) in different ways. However, in the face of changing climatic conditions the imperative for resilient water management becomes critical to effectively harness the contribution of water to development and particularly poverty reduction,” he said.
The Professor of Geography explained that, with an estimated 319.2 billion cubic metres of surface and ground water resources, Nigeria is endowed with abundant water resources to support agriculture, irrigation, transportation, energy and sustainable provision of water supply and adequate sanitation, saying that, in this regard, Nigeria is not, on the average, a water-stressed country.
He stressed that water is essential not only for sustaining quality of life on the earth, but also for economic growth and poverty reduction.
Oladipo added: “Reliable, adequate and high quality water is vital for economic development and well-being. Access to safe and adequate water improves health, fulfils multiple needs of households, contribute to food and fibre production and poverty elimination. Due to rapid increase in population, the demand for water in Nigeria will increase over time.
“The challenge will be to meet increasing demand in the face of changing climate. Nigeria may face a water crisis not only because of possible climate change-induced physical scarcities of the resources, but because of poor knowledge, experience, technology and co-ordinating among different institutions.
“Better management coupled with effective policy, intensified political will, appropriate investments, awareness, climatic change adaptation and institutional strengthening are promising pathways for sustainable water resources management.”
The guest-lecturer called for adaptation strategies such as capacity development for smart-decision making for resilient water resources management, policy, regulatory and institutional reforms for water supply and demand management; improved hydrometric network; good river basin governance and scale-up regional cooperation particularly along the Niger and Benue basins and catchment areas.
Oladipo also prescribed integrated water resources management (IWRM) to promote integrated river basin management; resilient water supply infrastructure development; improving water demand management and services; economic instruments/incentives; investments in small-scale earth dams in place of conventional large-scale dams and adoption of water conservation and harvest practices.
Acting Executive Director of NCF, Alade Adeleke, in his introductory remarks, said NCF over the years identified the importance of water and wetland and promoting the need for its management.
He urged more Nigerians to join the group so that they can have the opportunity to understand the nation’s environmental challenges and proffer solutions to same.
President of NCF Trustees, Chief Philip Asiodu, said the group had over the years advocated sustainable management of the nation’s environment. He disclosed that, at present, there are about 1,000 advocacy clubs in schools.
He commended Chevron for supporting the programme over the years.