The Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development (CSCSD) has called on the Nigerian Senate to compel government agencies providing water for Nigerians to work with states, local governments and communities in their works to ensure effectiveness of their services.
CSCSD National Coordinator, Dr Tola Winjobi, made the call at a roundtable to mark the third anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Abuja on Tuesday.
The roundtable focuses on the National Water Resources bill currently at the National Assembly.
Winjobi also urged the Senate to ensure inclusion of sanitation and hygiene in the bill if there can’t be a separate one for them.
Emphasizing that the provision of potable water, sanitation and hygiene is the Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals Aimed at ending poverty by 2013, Dr Winjobi said: “This Goal 6 is linked to the National Water Resources Bill which the House of Representatives has passed and now before the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is an Act to provide for the equitable, beneficial, efficient and sustainable development, management, use and conservation of Nigeria’s surface and groundwater resources; to establish institutional arrangements for Nigeria’s water resources sector, to regulate the water resources sector and other matters connected thereto.
“Though the bill may have its pitfalls, the import and benefits of the bill are what one needs to consider. For example, some people opine that though the bill provides for borehole drilling by River Basin Development Authorities (RBDA) in communities of the States, boreholes would be drilled without the engagement with the communities, LGAs and State level agencies. Meaning that there might not be enough consultations before action is taken, and this is against the spirit of inclusiveness that Agenda 2030 preaches.
“The Bill should be made to compel RBDAs and other federal agencies providing water and sanitation services within their areas of jurisdiction to carry the States and LGAs along in their plan so that the state apparatus can build community management structure into the plan and include such communities in their investment plans ascaptured in the monitoring system of the state. The Bill is also criticised as largely a water resources bill while the issue of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) seems to be relegated. If there can’t be a separate bill to address WASH, WASH should be factored into this bill. There also seems not to be enough awareness even at the state level as this is seen as a federal bill. There should be enough education and awareness especially on the roles and responsibilities of the federal level agencies including RBDA against the role of the communities, LGAs and State level agencies so as to prevent conflict of interests.”
He also called for a display of political will from political leaders in Nigeria, stressing that it will help end the acute poverty that is said to be on the increase in the country.
His words: “Achieving the SDGs is dependent on the political will of our leadership. Governments at all levels only need to walk the talk and stop paying lip service to development issues. Although all the 17 goals are important, they however do not have equal weight. Prioritising the goals is necessary because it is obvious government may feign not having enough the resources to bring about the realisation of the 17 goals by 2030. Whereas Nigeria has the resources, it has all it takes to attain SDGs but self-centeredness coupled with endemic corruption has been the bane of our development over time.
“One of the Goals that need to be prioritised is Goal 6 which mandates the governments to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. The second target of that goal encourages government to provide access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations. This goal is associated with the realisation of some other goals. For example, sound health can be achieved in our community with availability of quality and quantity water supply and good sanitation thus partly achieving Goal 3 of the SDGs.”
While highlighting benefits of the bill, he said: “In fairness, the benefits of the bill outweigh its demerits. The importance on water in national development has been summarized in the statement that emanated from the UN Budapest Water Submit of 11th Oct, 2013 viz; “A sustainable World is a Water-Secured World”. “Consequently, for a nation, a sustainable nation is a water–secured nation. The bill when passed is going to be a compendium of all water related bodies which are already in existence as the National In-Land Water-ways and National Water Resources Institute, Kaduna. In implementing the principles under subsections (1) and (2) of the bill, the institutions established under this Act shall promote integrated water resources management (IWRM) and coordinate the management of:
- economic development, social welfare and environmental sustainability;
- land and water resources;
- surface water and groundwater resources;
- the river basins and adjacent marine and coastal environment; and
- upstream and downstream interests.
Other benefits of the National Water Resources Bill include:
1. Integrated approach for better water resources management for all users to improve their livelihood in the state in terms of agric, domestic and industrial supply and sanitation for good health.
2. Identification and harmonization of stakeholders’ responsibilities with a view to increasing coverage and water resources quality control.
3. Improvement on the water resources development through effective control of over extraction.
4. Addressing conflicting issues amongst stakeholders in the water sector usage and effective regulation of the sector surface and underground water.
5. Improvement in the revenue drive of the water sector.
6. Opportunity for the state governments to key into and take advantages of funding from Federal Government of Nigeria through water investment.
7. The state governments would be able to meet the multilateral Institutions and International Development Partners’ conditionalities and prerequisite for financial support.
8. Tendency to meet some of the targets of the SDG 6 on water and sanitation before 2030.
“The Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development is ready to partner with Federal Ministry of Water Resources, NIWRMC and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the bill is understood by the senate and passed within this 8th Assembly. We implore the Senate to understand the importance of the bill in contributing towards the socio-economic development and ecosystem sustainability of our country. The Senate, taking a cue from the House of Representatives that has passed it into law with due consultations with stakeholders, should know that passing the bill into law is for the benefit of all Nigerians towards effective, efficient and sustainable water resources management and contributing to the realization of the SDGs. We are ready to further create more awareness on the bill and by sharing the bill to other stakeholders to know the content and understand its importance to water management so as to reduce the risks of environmental hazards as we are witnessing these days.”