Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, on Monday, September 27 called for collective responsibility and increased awareness to protect the country’s rivers and water sources.
Adamu, who made the call at the maiden commemoration of the 2021 World Rivers Day, with the theme “Water Ways in our Communities”, said rivers currently faced threats of pollution, climate change, and urbanisation, among others.
According to him, the day is an avenue to seek an effective response to various threats to rivers and seek innovative ways of improving the quality of river water.
“The importance of this event cannot be overemphasised, given the benefits of rivers to the socio-economic life and well-being of all nations globally.
“As we know, rivers supply water and nutrients to different parts of the earth for the sustenance of living organisms, while also acting as drainage channels for surface run-off water.
“Report has it that rivers drain about 75 per cent of the earth’s land surface thereby providing transportation routes, source of energy and fertile soil for farming,’’ the minister said.
According to him, rivers play a significant role in the water cycle especially in the formation of rain.
“Apart from the supply of food in the form of nutrients, rivers also provide habitat for aquatic plants and animals. In view of the above, it is evident that rivers play a very key role in the economic survival of any nation,” he said.
The minister said that, in recent times, the importance of clean fresh water in the fight against COVID-19 had been highlighted severally, highlighting the day as a timely opportunity for millions of people around the world to celebrate its importance.
He said that many activities had been set aside to commemorate the day with Symbolic River Clean-up of some selected River sites and tree planting activities.
To guarantee the continued success of this campaign, Adamu said that the ministry had mandated the 12 River Basin Development Authorities as well as other agencies of the ministry to embark on regular and increased advocacy programmes.
He noted that the programme would target river restoration, protection and conservation within the framework of Integrated River Basin Management, to ensure coordinated development and management of the water resources in rivers and streams.
“I invite you to join hands with the ministry and other river advocates in Nigeria to disseminate this message to all Nigerians, and especially to communities living around our rivers and streams,” he said.
Highlights of the event were the visit to River Wupa, in Toge Community in the FCT to clean it from refuse dumped indiscriminately.
The minister also carried out the symbolic tree planting exercise to mark the maiden celebration.
Responding, the District Head, Toge community, Mr Samson Biko, appreciated the team for the kind gesture towards inclusion and improving the living conditions of the populace.
He said that rivers and streams contributed to the socio-economic development of any society and urged the government to provide potable water for communities around the rivers.
“We are calling for more, we want to have access to potable water in this place and in all neighbouring communities, so as to end water-borne diseases like schistosomiasis, cholera etc,” he said.
The World Rivers Day, which was established by the UN in 2005, is a celebration of the World’s Waterways on the last Sunday of September annually.
The day highlights the many values of our rivers, increase public awareness and promote improved stewardship of all rivers around the world.
By Tosin Kolade