The Federal Government on Thursday declared that state governments were beginning to neglect the provision of adequate water supply and sanitation, particularly in urban areas.
It also stated that the neglect had further worsened water supply situation across the country, as access to potable water had dropped from 32 per cent in 1990 to seven per cent in 2015, going by the latest water, sanitation and hygiene diagnostic report that was unveiled in Abuja by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the National Retreat on Revitalising Urban Water Supply and Sanitation in Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, said the retreat was one of the outcomes of the recent National Council on Water Resources, where stakeholders highlighted the challenges confronting the sector.
“The council, at that meeting, noted with serious concern state governments’ near neglect of provision of sustainable water supply and adequate sanitation to urban areas nationwide, and resolved to hold a special retreat as soon as possible to fashion out appropriate solutions that could revitalise the urban water supply and sanitation in our country,” he said.
Adamu stated that the constitution allowed the issue of water supply and sanitation services to be handled by the three tiers of government, adding that pursuant to this, the Federal Executive Council and the National Economic Council approved the National Water Supply and Sanitation Policy in 2000.
The minister said, “The policy spelt out the roles and responsibilities for the three tiers of government and also recommended cost-sharing arrangement for agreed capital investment in the provision of water supply.
“For urban water supply, the Federal Government will contribute 30 per cent; state governments, 60 per cent; and local governments, 10 per cent. The cost of operation and maintenance will be borne 100 per cent by the state governments through appropriate tariff.”
He, however, observed that it was worrisome to note that the objectives of the policy had not been met 17 years down the line, despite the several strategies adopted by the Federal Government to implement it through counterpart funding of water supply projects.
Adamu said there was a need for serious review of the policy with a view to fashioning out a better model that would enhance more collaborative efforts.
On the diagnostic report, he explained that it was based on the water supply and sanitation data that the ministry collected from all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
He said, “The summary of the report is that Nigeria’s water sector faces significant challenges, with 61 per cent of Nigerians having access to improved water, but only 31 per cent have access to improved water on premises. Access to piped water on the premises in urban areas has declined from 32 per cent in 1990 to seven per cent in 2015.
“In the case of sanitation, only 29 per cent of Nigerians have access to improved sanitation. The report went further to highlight that public expenditure in water and sanitation is limited and we need to invest at least three times more than we do today to achieve the SDGs in water, sanitation and hygiene.”
In his address before unveiling the report, Osinbajo stated despite the giant strides that had been made, the challenges in the sector were considerable and would require continuing resourcefulness and hard work to address.
“The overall effective urban water supply coverage as a proportion of the total population due to poor maintenance and unreliability of supplies is still sub 50 per cent,” he said.