Achievement of the Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation

In continuation of our 4 part series on the achievement of the Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, we present various achievements under the Irrigation Development.

Irrigation Development and the Quest for Food Security: The Giant Intervention of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation under the Honourable Minister Engr Prof Joseph T Utsev and Barr Muhammad Goronyo, since assuming office, August, 2023.

The administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is one which came on board with high hopes for Nigerians, given the antecedents of the commander in chief, being an achiever. The Renewed Hope Agenda of the administration has clearly resonate with the situation in the country. Which is why the president, having underscored the significance of food security to the sustainability of the country and its citizens, brought on board a technocrat and a seasoned administration to help in transforming the water and food needs of Nigerians.

To keep faith with the mandate of the president, Prof Joseph T Utsev, an accomplished academic and water engineer with several years of experience in water management, irrigation system and dry land farming was made to head the Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation. Whereas, Barr Muhammad Goronyo, a seasoned administration, and legal practitioner, was appointed Minister of State. The duo stroke a bond of excellent service delivery in order to navigate the country out of food shortages by reducing dependence on rain farming, which is seasonal. Since the average annual rainfall is 1200mm (47.2 in) for the whole country. This is grossly insufficient to enable the country attain food security.

Developing a Sustainable Irrigation Scheme

An irrigation simply implies the method used to water crops by bringing in water from pipes, canals,
sprinklers, or other man-made means, rather than relying on rainfall alone.

Despite the contributions of irrigation to poverty reduction and food security, irrigated agriculture contributes less than 12% of the total cropped area in Nigeria. Low crop water productivity in upstream farms and high crop water productivity in downstream farms suggest the need for improved technical efficiency, especially among the farms located upstream. Disparities in access to irrigation are serious challenges for the sustainability of the large-scale irrigation project in Nigeria. Bridging thus gap in equality can increase rice production substantially, thereby reducing poverty and food insecurity and increasing income.

Nigeria has approximately close to 4 Million irrigable hectares of land. But as at the end of 2022, the actual irrigable areas that was well utilized is put at just 169,718 hectares. The implications is, the actual, land engaged in irrigation farming across the country was about 5.4 percent. Therefore, 94 percent, which is close to 2.97 million hectares of land were not Irrigated.

The Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, under Prof Utsev and Barr. Goronyo, in a bid to implement the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, tend to address the underutilization of millions of irrigable hectares land across the country. In a meeting with stakeholders shortly after assuming office, Prof Joseph T Utsev underscores the significance of irrigation farming which he says it’s
is a sector which played a pivotal role in Nigeria’s agriculture development and contribute immensely to the nation’s food security and economic development. The Honorable Minister, delineated about 500,000 irrigable hectares of land to engage in rapid dry season farming to meet up, and mitigate the rising cost of living, and attain food sufficiency.

River Basin Development Authority, To the Rescue.

In Nigeria, the River Basin Development Authorities, (RBDAs) were to principally accelerate agricultural and rural development, and also to boost food and industrial crop production, which will harness and develop the nation’s water resource potentials and serve as veritable vehicles for comprehensive and integrated rural development. They were established since 1976 and they operate mechanized and capital intensive programmes. All the 12 RBDAs operate as separate Authorities, entities and each with separate administrative and operational autonomy, but sharing the Basin Resources of the 8 Hydrological Areas.

The RBDAs, are under the supervision and regulations of the Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation. It is on that basis,the Honorable Minister, held an emergency meeting with various Managing Directors of the 12 RBDAs to drive home the stern message of the president, which is the desire to improve access to water and food sufficiency to ameliorate the commodity situation in the country. The significant role of the RBDAs cannot be overemphasize, as such their input and productivity will be critical in this regard. Because, they have been operational since 1976, it is expected that, their capacity to function in an ever changing technological innovations is put to question hence the need to revitalize the operational capabilities for an enhanced productivity.

The challenge posed by climate change is multi dimensional. It has impacted negatively on weather and environment, especially rainfall, drought and flooding. All of these are directly tied in a way or more to the activities of the RBDAs. Therefore, the need to have a functional RBDAs is crucial. The RBDAs are thus:

Chad Basin Development Authority – areas surrounding the Lake Chad Basin.

Upper       Benue        River       Basin

Development Authority – areas drained by the Benue River and its tributaries from the international boundary to Pai and Donga River.

Lower      Benue        River       Basin

Development Authority – catchment area are those within the confluence of Benue and Niger Rivers.

Cross River Basin Development Authority – catchment area are places drained by the Cross River and tributaries

Anambra – Imo River Basin Development Authority – East of Niger River in areas drained by Rivers Imo and Anambra.

Niger RiverBasin Development Authority – areas drained by the Niger River starting in the North from the river’s confluence with Malendo River and down to Niger River’s confluence with Ubo River.

Ogun Osun River Basin Development Authority

Niger Delta River Basin Development Authority

Benin – Owena Development Authority.

Sokoto – Rima Development Authority.

Hadejia Jama’are Development Authority

Upper Niger River – Niger, Kaduna and environs.

The Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation has put all the RBDAs on their foot itp enhance productivity especially on their specific areas or spheres of influence. For instance, the Hadejia-Jama’are River Basin Development Authority established the Kano River Irrigation Project (KRIP) in 1976. The KRIP and other large- scale irrigation schemes have been mandated to increase the country’s aggregate food and raw material production while increasing farmers’ incomes, livelihoods, and food security. An increased revenue will improve the quality of life of farmers and others engaged in the value chain generated by irrigation.

The Honorable Minister, Prof Joseph T Utsev, since assuming office has visited the Hadejia Jama’are River Basin Development Authority, more than once. Similarly, the Honorable Minister of State Barr Muhammad Goronyo, also embarked on strategic visit at the HJRBDA.

On one of such working visit, the Honorable Minister, Prof Utsev, stated that, examining the external aspects affecting water supply performance downstream is vital to understanding each scheme’s unique potential.

The KRIP has 18 sectors, each with a main canal (MC), branch canals (BCs) and distributary canals (DCs). The project was designed to distribute water equitably to all farms in the project area via gravity. However, due to managerial problems, siltation, and farmers’ attitudes towards breaking the field canal, the downstream farmers receives less water, making them prone to crop failure and receiving less income than their counterparts.

On his part, the Minister of State Barr Muhammad Goronyo, observed the challenges facing the HJRBDA, tracing io the 1970s and 1980s when Nigeria was seeing substantial income from oil exports, the government was able to offer cash for maintenance and operation (M&O) of the irrigation project. Therefore, the farming community handed off responsibility for this task to the government. However, due to competing demands from other sectors of the economy and the diminishing oil income, these subventions gradually dwindled each year. Thus, the water distribution infrastructure deteriorated as it went without maintenance for too long. This led to a decline in the scheme’s effectiveness, eventually affecting the farmers’ livelihoods.

With such an insightful analysis of the HJRBDA, the Ministry has prepared a framework for its revitalization, some of which has begun yielding positive results.

Some Landmark Accomplishment of The Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation under Prof. Utsev and Barr. Goronyo, since August, 2023.

1. Kick-starting the partial commercialization of the RBDAs across the country with a view to enhance their productivity and stimulate effective service delivery and address
the issue of funding. The Honorable Minister Prof Utsev, whil at the headquarters of the Hadejia Jam’are River Basin Development Authority, Kano, where he commissioned some projects executed by the HJRBDA also, commissioned a water bottling factory meant to provide potable water on commercial basis for citizens of Kano in line with the partial commercialisation arrangement of the Federal Government. Aside from providing clean water to citizens of Kano at an affordable rate, the water factory has provided jobs for youths with a projected annual turnover of over three hundred million naira.

2. Inspected the ongoing Karaye irrigation project Kano which is a has the capacity to aggravate rapid dry season farming to meet the food security mandate of president Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

3 The Honourable Minister visited the site of the ongoing work at Rafin Yashin Multipurpose dam in Minna, aimed at providing water for the citizens and scaling up irrigation farming in line with presidential mandate, which is to ensure food security through irrigated agriculture and making water accessible for all citizens.

  • The Honorable Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation Engr Prof Utsev, was on a 2 days working visit to the Anambra- Imo River Basin Development Authority in Owerri, Imo State, where executed some projects and urge the authorities emphasis the need to make the authority sustainable and commercially viable to meet its core mandate ofTinubu administration. Prof Utsev disclosed that several reform interventions had been introduced by the ministry to revitalise the River Basin Development Authorities. These interventions include the introduction of the songhai integrated farming model and the training of youths in agribusiness, empowerment of graduates and youths as well as jobs and wealth creation.

The highpoint of the working visit, was the resolve to explore innovative ways and means of reviving the Lower Anambra Irrigation Project (LAIP) which is the single largest rice irrigation project in the southeast zone with huge potentials for food security, wealth creation, poverty reduction and job creation. Which when completed, the Irrigation Scheme have the potential to provide access to food ajy safe drinking water to the people of the southeast, in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

  • The Honorable Minister of State Water Resources, Barr Muhammad Goronyo, alsoe visited the Irrigation Scheme in Gombe. During the visit, the minister visited and commissioned rice farms.
  • The Honorable Minister of, State, also inspected omfgu work at the Chad Basin River Development Authority, where he met with famers and beneficiaries of the several Irrigation Scheme powered by the river Basin. It is also worthy of note that the Tinubu administration, through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, is currently executing more water schemes across the thirty six states in the Federation that when completed will tackle water scarcity in many communities.