Water conservation has been pinpointed as a crucial step towards sustaining the prioritization given the water sector in Akwa Ibom State by Governor Udom Emmanuel. This was the main focus of the World Water Day Celebration 2017, organized by the Bureau of Political, Legislative Affairs and Water Resources in collaboration with water stakeholders in Akwa Ibom state on Wednesday.
Giving his thoughts during the celebration, the Special Adviser, Bureau of Political, Legislative Affairs and Water Resources, Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Ekong Sampson said; “Everyone knows that water is essential to the life of the planet and to the prosperity of its people. Water is critical to other facets of sustainable development, from environmental protection and food security to increased tourism and investment; from the empowerment of women and the education of girls to reduction in productivity losses due to morbidity and malnutrition. Thus, increasing access to domestic water and sanitation services and improving water resources management are catalytic entry points to help developing countries fight poverty and hunger, safeguard human health, reduce child mortality and promote gender equality.
“Ironically, the larger strata that use – and misuse – this prized liquid will go about their businesses in all innocence today, quite oblivious of the big celebration. We see so much of water that we tend to take it for granted!
“In Akwa Ibom State, this year’s theme will help to drive home the key objectives and cardinal areas of human capital development especially as Government has merged Water Resources Directorate of the former Ministry of Rural Development with the Bureau of Political and Legislative Affairs to have direct supervision, control and adequate supply of potable and safe water to teeming Akwa Ibom rural dwellers and the entire communities by the present administration under the purposeful leadership of His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
“In order to prioritize the water sector, the Udom Emmanuel administration has structured an innovation in setting up the Bureau of Political, Legislative Affairs and Water Resources. The Bureau is working hard to energize Akwa Ibom Water Company to expand its services and to open up our rural areas to safe and adequate water. The Government is pursuing a quality-driven water policy. A regulatory framework is also under consideration.”
The former State Legislator further reeled out the developments in the water sector within the last twelve months in the state to include Assignment of all water management activities to the Bureau of Political, Legislative Affairs and Water Resources, Establishment of a Bureau of Water Resources in Akwa Ibom State, Re-positioning of Akwa Ibom Water Company, Provision of a draft policy for urban and rural water supply in the State, Financial commitments to the EU/UNICEF/NDSP water and sanitation counterpart projects in the State implemented by AK-RUWATSAN, Establishment of food sufficiency committee which will definitely require proactive steps and professional work plan for the provision of water which is a vital resource for agriculture, an ongoing plan to utilize the existing River Basin farms to allow for mechanized agriculture in the State, Conceptualizing a regulatory and institutional framework to make the water sector more productive and efficient among others.
According to him, water stakeholders must support effective water supply and management with reduction in waste that can endanger the health of the people of Akwa Ibom State, especially the more vulnerable women and children in the rural areas as well as protection of water infrastructure.
“The water infrastructure has to be upgraded and preserved. The obligation is however not on government alone. Vandalisation of water facilities has been a huge disservice to humanity. We must join hands to protect infrastructure. Consumers should also be willing to pay for services rendered. How come that, even our privileged ones rush to pay for electricity and turn a blind eye on water bills – water that nobody can do without?
“As we draw lessons today, let us be re-dedicated to situate water as the pre-eminent peacemaker and neutraliser. Let us treat water with all the respect that it truly deserves,” he added.
The event which featured among other activities, the inauguration of two mini water scheme rehabilitated by BODAN in Mkpat Enin LGA climaxed with a discussion session at the Akwa Ibom State Water Company with management and staffers of the company and that of Bureau of Political, Legislative Affairs and Water Resources as well as Borehole Drillers Association of Nigeria (BODAN), Akwa Ibom State Chapter and other water stakeholders in attendance.
March 22 has been observed as World Water Day since it was first proposed in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. The UN had designated the day as International World Water Day in 1992 at the same conference.
Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. Under the theme ‘Water and Wastewater’, the year 2017 provides an important opportunity to consolidate and build upon the previous World Water Days to highlight the symbiosis between water and wastewater in the quest for sustainable development.
Some of the issues that have been discussed on this occasion over the years include water pollution, and scarcity and lack of sanitation in rural areas. The UN coordinates programmes for the day in consultation with member organisations in tune with the particular year’s theme. On Wednesday, the UN released a report saying recycling the world’s waste water, almost all of which goes untreated, would ease global water shortages while protecting the environment.
By Prince Bassey, UYO