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Alkasim Abdulkadir: If We Must Drink Water Tomorrow, We Must Be Visionary Today



In July this year, I undertook a field trip to one of the dry season farming paddies in Garun Mallam LGA in Kano State, aside the fact that farmers were hard at work and looking towards a good harvest. One very poignant thing that caught my attention was the water supply infrastructure built over thirty 40 years ago by the Audu Bako government. The aqueducts and concrete embankments are still standing today, in Kano State. Bako built Bagauda Dam, Tiga Dam and the Tomas Danbatta water supply scheme, though later abandoned; today it has been rehabilitated to provide water to Makoda, Minjibir and Dambatta LGAs.

The vision started by the likes of Bako has not been sustained in Nigeria as such over the years, corruption and mismanagement, inadequate maintenance of existing facilities has led to a chronic short fall in water supply. According to a WHO/UNICEF study in 2010 Water and Sanitation coverage rates in Nigeria are amongst the lowest in the world. Access to an improved water source stagnated at 47% from 1990 to 2006, but increased to 54% in 2010. In urban areas access actually decreased from 80% to 65% in 2006, but it then recovered to 74% in 2010.
With the foregoing the return to democracy ended albeit shortly the draught suffered by Nigerians in accessing water. A pointer to this is the 2003 “Presidential Water Initiative (PWI): Water for People, Water for Life” launched by then President, Olusegun Obasanjo. The initiative had ambitious targets to increase access, including a 100 percent water access target in state capitals, 75 percent access in other urban areas, and 66 percent access in rural areas.

However, once more the failure of solid oversight, the ubiquitous issues surrounding misappropriation has ensured that very few of these targets set 10 years ago have been achieved.

But, all is not gloom. The tides are changing once more and like little drops, water is once more becoming a subject of visionary thinking. One of such thinking is the completion of the review and update of the 1995 National Water Resources Master Plan in November, 2013 by the Ministry in conjunction with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) this further revealed that the nation’s water resources has been recharged to the tune of 440 billion cubic meters consisting of surface water potential estimated at 340 billion cubic metres and Ground water potential estimated at 100 billion cubic metres as against the previous estimates of 267 billion cubic meters for surface water and 92 billion for groundwater.

Even before the review, Sarah Reng Ochekpe the Minister of Water Resources had been recording vital investments in the water sector for the last three years.
Before 2010 access to potable water was 58%. Access is now 67%, while sanitation moved from 32% to 41% under the recent national assessment. This has been made possible through the efforts of the three tiers of Government and development partners. Also as part of intervention efforts, the Ministry has provided a total of 4,940 water supply facilities nationwide from 2010 to date. Out of this number, 4,099 newly constructed, mostly rural water facilities, and 143 rehabilitated facilities have been completed nationwide while works on 698 water supply projects are currently on-going in many States.

The total installed capacities of the completed water facilities amounts to 1.9 million cubic meters per day which is capable of meeting the water demand of about 30 million people, especially those living in the rural areas and small towns. Several dams are also currently under the construction when all the dams are completed the water impoundment in the nation’s dams will increase by 3.6 billion cubic meter. Out of the 37 completed dams, 16 have hydropower potentials capable of generating 135.15 Megawatts of electricity.

Some existing dams including the breached Goronyo Dam emergency spillway in Sokoto, Alau Dam in Borno, Tiga and Chalawa Gorge dams in Kano, Hadejia Barrage in Hadejia as well as other dams in many states have been rehabilitated for more optimal operation. The Kashimbilla dam intended to attenuate flood from the imminent collapse of lake Nyos upstream in Cameroon has recorded 87% completion status also. The procurement of the works on the proposed Datsin Hausa Dam that will address the issues of flooding as a result of uncontrolled releases of water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon is currently under review.

For the nation to achieve food security and all year round farming since 2010, a total of 385 formal and informal irrigation projects of varying sizes have been embarked upon. Of this, 179 new irrigation schemes have been completed, 21 existing Irrigation projects were rehabilitated while 185 new projects are on-going in several States across the country. All these projects when completed will provide a total of 397,060 Ha of irrigable land. A total of 118,064 Ha were cultivated in the last four years, representing 30% land cultivation. The irrigable land under cultivation is being managed by 1,416,768 farming families at 12 members of the family per hectares of land. The Ministry, through these irrigation facilities under the RBDAs, supported the nation’s food security programme with 3,013,296 metric tonnes of assorted food and cash crops valued at over N45.0 billion. At the end of the day, once more, if we must drink water tomorrow we must be visionary today.


Article written by Alkasim Abdulkadir


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