By Onyebuchi Sampson
Stakeholders in water production and management have called for protection and sustainable exploration of underground water as it is central to surviving and adapting in a changing world and its environment as well as meeting the needs of a rapidly growing population.
The stakeholders including engineers, university lecturers and administrators and policymakers spoke during an event to mark the 2022 World Water Day, themed: “Groundwater: Making the invisible visible”, and marked in collaboration with WaterAid and Kimberly Clark project in Agege, Lagos.
Leading the call, Permanent Secretary, Office of Drainage Services and Water Resources in the Lagos Ministry of the Environment, Lekan Shodeinde, said the theme was quite apt as it aims to highlight our collective behaviour of forgetting the importance of groundwater like many other elements of our planet that are not in plain sight, but essential to our sustenance.
Shodeinde, an engineer noted that the event just like in previous years focuses attention on the importance of Water and creates awareness about the hidden water resource that has always been critically important but not fully recognized in sustainable development policy thrust.
He said: “This year’s campaign will explain the vital role of groundwater in the Water and Sanitation system, Agriculture, Industry, Ecosystem and Climate Change adaptation. The message of this campaign is that protecting and sustainably exploiting groundwater will be central to surviving and adapting in a changing world and its environment as well as meeting the needs of a rapidly growing population.
“The diverse perspectives we hear today shows the multidimensional value of groundwater across sectors, especially in states like ours with its unique blend of aquatic and human interaction.”
The permanent secretary, who was represented by Engr. Mahmoud Adegbite, a director in the ministry, said since water is essential for every aspect of development such as better production, better nutrition, better environment and ultimately a better life, everyone must lead by example and value every drop of water and act like every day is World Water Day”.
He welcomed the ingenuity of the private sector, the drive of the Civil Society Organisation and the solidarity of the International Community in tackling the many challenges in the water sector in the state.
“It is in this view that the present administration led by Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu redesignated the erstwhile Ministry of the Environment to Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, in recognition of the need for a firm institutional arrangement in the water sector, The Trumpet gathered.
“Our regulation of this sector is based on inclusiveness, building technical expertise and technology to create a robust structure capable of exploiting opportunities locally and internationally as well as tackling challenges in the sector.
“We have also been working assiduously to harmonize policies (most importantly is the review of the WASH Policy, currently ongoing) to ensure coherence at all levels. Modern technologies are being adopted to optimize water usage and we are also building synergies with WaterAid Nigeria, the Professionals and the Academia as evident in this year’s celebration. Our doors remain open for partnership with Corporate Organizations, Development Partners and Professional bodies in achieving the goal of water for all (SDG 6),” he added.
In her remarks, a representative of WaterAid, Mrs Nambat Michael, noted that groundwater is an important part of climate change adaptation, strategy and often offers solutions to people without access to sealed water.
Despite this fact, she said, underground water is being invisible not to be receiving the attention it deserves from stakeholders.
According to her, as human activities such as industrialisation, waste management and population growth, the threat to quality and quantity of ground water available for sustainable development often increases; due to pressure, infliction and a high risk of pollution.
Michael called for protection and effective management of water to make underground water more visible, stressing that the increasingly competitive environment requires approaches and technologies, which if not closely monitored can jeopardise people’s health, safety and livelihood.
This, she said, will require putting in place the right policies, legislation, guideline and right description arrangement that enables strict enforcement as this is central to achieving water security necessary for ensuring access to safe water for all.
“One message I want everyone to take home is “Let’s lead by example; value every drop of water and act like every day is World Water Day, ” she added.
Earlier, a professor at the University of Lagos, Abiodun Odukoya lamented the absence of data on the issue of water usage and its availability.
She called for collaboration between the town and gown to ensure sustainable use of underground water.