Environmentalists have said that except the lack management of water resources in Nigeria is adequately addressed all efforts and progress made on poverty reduction targets and sustainable development will be jeopardized.
Speaking at the 12th Chief Shafi Lawal Edu Memorial Lecture organized by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation in Lagos, a group of environmentalists decried the way water resources management is being handled by the Government as water affects almost all aspects of the economy, in particular health, food production and security; domestic water supply and sanitation; energy and industry; and environmental sustainability.
Renowned climatology, Professor Olukayode Oladipo who was the guest lecturer at the annual lecture series, in his paper titled "climate resilient water resources management for poverty reduction in Nigeria" said that Water stress is already high in many parts of Nigeria, making improved management critical to ensuring sustainable development.
According to him, water resources underpin our quality of life and our national economy. The sustainability of Nigeria’s economic growth and development will depend, among other things, on what happens to its water resources. Water is a key input to economic growth sectors and contributes to employment, job creation and gross domestic product (GDP), but, as demonstrated above, the sector is highly vulnerable to climate change.
"Water management can be a catalyst for a pro-poor economic growth, particularly at a local level, where it provides vital inputs into productive activities and creates opportunities for local entrepreneurs in supplying technologies, constructing facilities and providing services. Thus, there is a general consensus that water management has the potential to contribute to all of the MDGs in different ways".
Oladipo stressed that, adaptation to climate change is closely linked to water resources management and its role in sustainable development.
“Various necessary adaptation measures that deal with climate variability and build upon existing land and water management practices have the potential to create resilience to climate change and to enhance water security and thus directly contribute to development. Thus, the imperative for a holistic approach and appropriate funding to tackle the challenge of climate change in the water sector cannot be overemphasized".
Nigeria is not, on the average, a water-stressed country. Despite its enormous water potential, however, water use for agricultural, industrial and domestic consumption in the country has been largely underdeveloped. In this regard, and similar to the oil sector, Nigeria is a country of paradox in which its God-given abundant natural resources (in this case water) are not improving the quality of life of the people because they remain poorly harnessed and managed, he said.
The Lecturer called for an improved water management which according to him is critical to ensure sustainable development. This will benefit many aspects of the economy, in particular health, food production and security; domestic water supply and sanitation; energy and industry, whilst also contributing to development goals, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, particularly floods and drought related disasters for environmental sustainability.
Earlier, the President of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, Izoma Philip Asiodu in his opening remarks advocated the need for more attention to the issue of the environment which is being neglected.
He called on the governments to implement policies aiming at combating the various environmental challenges; the rate of degradation of the ecology in Nigeria is accelerating. It is therefore necessary to begin to address those factors that will turn this unsavoury situation around, with all the seriousness and commitment that it deserves.