Nigeria Government Seeks Private Sector Support in Water Development
The Federal Government has again sought the cooperation of agencies involved in water resources development in its efforts to provide potable water to all Nigerians.
At the 15th session of the National Council on Water Resources in Damaturu, Yobe State, Water Resources Minister Muktari Shehu Shagari said government desires to increase national water supply from 30 per cent to 60 per cent by 2003. Shagari explained that the objective of the National Policy on Water Supply and Sanitation was to ensure the provision of sufficient potable water to all at affordable prices.
To this end, he urged participants to overcome the challenges facing the National Water Council through what he described as "Water Supply Reforms." The reforms, he explained should involve profound changes in institutional and regulatory framework based on the concept of water being a strategic resource and a critical commodity with an economic value to the people.
On how the institutional changes could be effected in the next two years, he said: "In spite of the public monopoly characteristics of water supply by separating investment in infrastructure from investment in water distribution, competition would be introduced to attain efficiency."
Besides, the minister said that apart from introducing competition in the supply of water in the country, the changes required in the National Water Supply policy was to enable the various State Water Agencies (SWA) have more autonomy.
Arguing that the institutional and regulatory changes will increase the efficiency of the water agencies and corporations in the country, he cited the supply of water in smaller towns and the sanitation sub-sector as examples.
Government, according to him, has started decentralizing the ownership and management of water supply schemes.
The National Water Resource Council (NWRC), he added, has embarked on the preparation of a water resource management strategy that would involve all the stakeholders in the water sector to ensure integrated management and development of all water resources.
Governor Bukar Abba Ibrahim on his part lamented that the country's water sector has been bogged down by inadequate investment, poor infrastructure and ineffective management strategies of the state water boards.
According to him, because of the increasing demand for potable water, the set target for the country's water supply proved very difficult to attain in the last four decades.