Nigeria on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, announced that it has acceded to the Water Convention as an instrument to help strengthen existing transboundary commitments under the auspices of the Niger Basin Authority and the Lake Chad Basin Commission.
The Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu, made the announcement at a high-level side event at the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York.
The minister spoke at the high-level event on “Speeding-up Transboundary Water Cooperation: The Value of the Water Convention”.
Nigeria shares at least one transboundary water body with each of its neighbouring states.
The Lake Chad Basin is the largest inland drainage area in Africa and covers an area of 2,434,000 km2, equal to eight per cent of the total area of the African continent.
The basin extends through Algeria, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Central Africa Republic, Chad, and Sudan. In Nigeria, the basin drains about 20 per cent of the country.
Nigeria is also home to about 80 per cent of the 100 million people residing in the basin of the Niger river, which crosses Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Chad before emptying through the Gulf Guinea into the Atlantic Ocean.
”Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has acceded to the Water Convention as an instrument to help strengthen our existing transboundary commitments under the auspices of the Niger Basin Authority and the Lake Chad Basin Commission.
“As you may be aware, Nigeria is downstream of two major transboundary Rivers – Niger and Benue, and also shares portion of Lake Chad.
“Any infrastructure upstream therefore affects the quantity and quality of water that flows into the country,’’ he said.
According to him, the major objective of the Convention is to protect and ensure the quantity, quality and sustainable use of transboundary surface waters and groundwater by strengthening transboundary water cooperation.
It fosters the implementation of integrated water resources management, particularly through the basin approach. Amongst other things, it ensures that parties use transboundary waters in a reasonable, equitable and sustainable way.
The minister said as water and climate change know no borders, trans-boundary cooperation concerning climate change adaptation is necessary to prevent the possible negative effects of unilateral adaptation measures and enable the sharing of the costs and benefits of such collaboration.
He said many transboundary basins that would be most severely affected by water scarcity and related climate change impacts were also, in parallel, impacted by political tensions, armed violence and internal water mismanagement, thus necessitating urgent efforts to build trust and strengthen cooperation on shared water issues.
“It is known that more than forty per cent of the global population relies on shared basins for their livelihoods, creating strong interdependencies between people, economies and ecosystems.
“So, therefore, the global opening of the Water Convention, the accession of the first countries from outside the UN Economic Commission (UNECE) region and the momentum in support of the Convention are promising developments,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari acceded to the Convention in December 2022 and Nigeria also acceded to the Amendment to Article 25 and 26 of 28 November 2003.
The UN Water Conference, which opened on Wednesday, is taking place as this vital natural resource is being depleted, polluted and mismanaged.
The three-day event co-hosted by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Tajikistan, falls at the halfway point for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include the promise of ensuring all people have access to safe water and sanitation by 2030.
By Cecilia Ologunagba