Saturday, 13 April 2013

FG Needs N350bn Annually to Tackle Water Supply, Sanitation, Says Jonathan

By Muhammad Bello 19 February, 2013 The Federal Government needs N350 billion every year for it to tackle issues on sanitation and water supply in the country. President Goodluck Jonathan disclosed this Monday at the opening of a two-day Presidential Summit on Water tagged: “Innovative Funding of the Water Sector”, at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja. The president said his administration had been making commitments to the sector, which had yielded positive results, adding that in the last two years, over N84 billion had been spent in addition to the another N80.4 billion expended on dams and irrigation schemes across the country. These are the Goronyo Dam, which gulped N3.4 billion, Kashimbila Dam, N38 billion, Gurara Dam and irrigation project, N36 billion and Ife Dam N3 billion. In its unrelenting effort to make sure that Nigerians are availed of their water requirements, Jonathan said the Federal Government “has proposed to spend N39 billion in this year’s budget on water-related projects, in addition to funds the sector will receive from special intervention funds”. Despite these huge investments, the president said the purpose of the summit is “to explore new investment opportunities in this critical Sector,” by examining how water projects could attract more financing and new technologies from both public and private sources. Other targets he set for the summit are: “leveraging the nation’s water resources to be in tandem with that of its partners and the international community to strengthen our effort towards meeting the set targets in 2015; identifying issues militating against optimal water infrastructure development; and its sustainability, as well as evolve innovative funding to ameliorate this situation.” The president also charged the summit to redefine the intervention approaches, facilitate linkages and engagements and “critically reviews 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.” In her welcome remarks at the occasion, Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Reng Ochekpe, stated that despite government’s support on the development of a roadmap to reform the sector, there is still a need for funding as the appropriations made to all the tiers of government cannot bankroll the gigantic project. According to Ochekpe, “the implementation of the road map has 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.” Towards this end, she said the ministry apart from completing many projects and initiatives that are billed for inauguration soon has also “established a Public-Private Partnership Unit in 2012 and the unit is working along with the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and the Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility (NIAF) and is presently screening various water sector projects for concession.” Senate President David Mark, who decried the prevailing water supply situation in the country, submitted that the summit “must critically evaluate the issues that afflict our water sector such as poor operation and maintenance, insufficient technical capacity and persistent failure in policy implementation”. According to him, “these failures have dramatic consequences on the lives, livelihoods and development of Nigeria and Nigerians. Sadly, millions of Nigerians who have no access to potable pipe borne water depend on dirty and contaminated water for domestic use and millions die every year from water borne diseases.” Dignitaries who graced the summit included Vice-President Muhammad Namadi Sambo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his Ghanaian counterpart, John Kuffour. Others were the Egyptian Minister of Water and Irrigation, Dr. Mohammed Bahaa el-Din, governors, ministers, water sector experts, legislators and captains of industries. The summit ends today.

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