President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday said Nigeria will need to invest about N350 billion annually to meet her water and sanitation targets.
The President who spoke at the opening of the two-day Presidential Summit on water, with the theme “Innovative Funding of the Water Sector” held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the situation whereby rural and sub-urban areas do not have access to clean water, is unacceptable.
He said in line with his administration’s transformation agenda, it had become necessary to implement a more cooperative, more radical programme of action to meet the nation’s Millennium Development Goals MDGs) target in this sector.
The President said for the nation to meet her MDGs, the federal and states must work together, insisting that a situation where a lot of money was spent to provide water but management becomes an issue, should no longer be tolerated.
He said, “Investments were made to boost various aspects of the sector, from the line budget and special funds dedicated to ecological matters and natural resources development and also through the repair and rehabilitation of water supply infrastructure. In 2011, we spent the total sum of N40.94billion. In 2012, the sum of N43.6 billion was spent. This does not include our expenditure in the following projects; Goronyo Dam – N3.4 billion; Kashimbila Dam – N38 billion; Gurara Dam & irrigation – N3 6billion; Ife Dam – N3 billion.
“In 2013, we have proposed N39 billion from line budget to be spent on water related projects. This will be in addition to funds the sector will receive from special intervention funds.”
The President expressed the hope that at the end of summit, they will consider how best to leverage resources with those of development partners and the international community to strengthen the effort towards meeting the set targets in 2015.
He said, “In more concrete and specific terms, this Summit should: Identity the major issues militating against optimal water infrastructure development and its sustainability, as well as evolve innovative funding to ameliorate this situation;
“Redefine the intervention approaches in the water sector through funding sources diversification and highlight the business potential and existing profitability assets;
“Facilitate linkages and engagements between investors and innovators towards expansion and scaling up of innovation on water services in the country; and
“Critically review the present financing and investment models in the sector; determine which model works and the opportunities that exist for leveraging resources from non-traditional sources in the light of growing competing needs.
“It is increasingly recognized that small and medium water service providers, such as “mai ruwa” and “pure water” play a vital role in the provision of water services in both our rural and urban areas.
“Strategies to strengthen their service delivery, including environmentally safe measures, technological value additions, and access to finance and concessionary credit facilities should be evaluated.
“I assure you that the government will favourably consider all the practical recommendations, which will emerge from the Summit. We are conscious of the importance of this meeting and the contributions it will make in support of our efforts to realize our objectives in the Water Sector for the benefit of our citizens.
“We are set on the right course to achieve and move beyond the MDG targets for water and sanitation. This is the dawn of reform and growth in the Water Sector in Nigeria. All hands must therefore, be on deck. To this, I am fully committed.”
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, said the subject of water and speedy action was long overdue.
He said it was ironical that there was scarcity of water in the midst of plenty. “That is why we have to think out of the box to provide water sustainable for human needs.
“Innovation may mean we need to do what we use to do differently, seeking new ways, more hands have to be on deck to achieve the purpose we need to do. We need to realise that business as usual will not get us there.
“Is water a political, economic or social issue? Is when we are clear on what it is then we will move closer to addressing the issue of water.
“Water is too serious to be left in the hands of politicians, private sector, donor agencies, and civil society alone. We have to leave it in the hands of all to ensure adequate and sustainable water supply.”
John Kuffour, former President of Ghana and Chairman of Sanitation and Water for All, regretted that many people were denied access to water due to prohibited high cost.
He said traditional sources of funding (donor agencies) leave much to be desired; hence the summit’s theme couldn’t have been more apt.
Senate President, David Mark supported the notion that if a state fails to provide water for citizens, it should be taken to court.
“The responsibility of provision of water is that of state and Local Government Area and so the people should be empowered to sue those that fail to deliver on that,” he said.
Mr Mark added, “As the nation’s population grows so will be demand for water and so is expected this summit will provide lasting solution.
“It is embarrassing that we still lack portable and clean water. Water is a necessity and must be readily available and accessible.
“We need to source for funds from none traditional sources in the face of competing demands.
“Some of the investments have been wasteful because of duplication of water projects.”
The Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, speaking on behalf the Governors’ Forum, said the sector needed institutional reforms to ensure implementation will not meet brick wall.
He said the delivery of portable water to the people was crucial and the activities of donor agencies, the private sector and the government on provision of water need to be harmonised.
He called for a legislation to empower the people to sue government that fails to provide water and other essential amenities to court.
In her welcome remarks, the Minister of Water Resources, Stella Ochekpe, said she was excited that global stakeholders and political leaders turned up for the event.
She said the summit was the President’s initiative and demonstrates his commitment in the transformation agenda of the water sector, adding that they were confident and convinced that the water sector will experience a greater turn around after summit.
“We pledged to use the outcomes of the summit as stepping stones that will not only facilitate the attainment of the MDGs, but will prepare us for greater impact in the implementation of post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, in which water is expected to be a stand-alone goal,” she said.
Mrs Ochekpe said the implementation of the roadmap in the sector had brought to the fore the huge funding gap in the sector and annual appropriations alone by the three tiers of government will not be sufficient to develop the sector in line with global trends.
She added that this had underscored the need to explore alternative sources of funding for the optimal development of the sector.