Water management: FG charges ECOWAS countries on unity

As part of efforts to enhance the accessibility to clean, potable drinking water for rural communities across West Africa, the federal government has highlighted the pivotal role of unity among member states, recognizing the immense potential inherent within the West African sub-region.

A statement signed by the Director, Information and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, Mrs. Funmi Imuetinyan on Friday, quoted the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation,  Prof. Joseph Terlumun Utsev, as underscored the pivotal role of integrated water management in advancing regional development and stability.

Speaking at the 5th Ordinary Session of the Ministerial Monitoring Committee (MMC) of the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in West Africa which was held in Abuja, Utsev highlighted the imperative for effective management of shared Water Resources and potential benefits for health, education, tourism, food security, and energy through collaborative efforts.

The minister expressed confidence in the expertise and commitment of participants, anticipating substantive recommendations and resolutions aimed at advancing the water sector and promoting regional cooperation in West Africa.

He further disclosed that the session’s agenda includes addressing key initiatives such as the draft ECOWAS Water Resources Management Centre (WRMC) Strategic Plan 2020 – 2030, directives on water infrastructure development, guidelines for managing shared water resources, revival of trans-boundary basin organizations, institutional reforms, and the operationalisation of a regional water observatory.

Prof. Utsev extended appreciation to the Water Resources Management Centre (WRMC) for selecting Nigeria to benefit from the Year 2024 ECOWAS Special Project Implementation for Access to Drinking Water in Rural Areas, affirming Nigeria’s commitment to leveraging its expertise for successful project execution.

The Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalization of ECOWAS Commission,  Sedico Douka,  who represented President of ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, highlighted the subregion’s commitment to IWRM since 1998.

Douka underscored critical agenda items including the draft Strategic Plan for the ECOWAS Water Resources Management Center, establishment of a West African Water Facility (Fund), ECOWAS Member States’ accession to the 1992 Water Convention, and the Regional Initiative for the Development, Resilience, and Valorization of Water Resources (DREVE) among others.

He drew parallels between water and energy sectors regarding access challenges and urged acceleration of tangible projects for water and sanitation access. He called upon Technical and Financial partners to support these initiatives, expressing gratitude to the Government of Nigeria and partners for their steadfast support.

The Commissioner emphasized the importance of regional and international cooperation in leveraging water resources for transformative impact in West Africa, expressing confidence that deliberations would significantly advance the regional IWRM agenda.

The Session was attended by Water Resources Ministers from The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, along with representatives of Water Resources Ministers from Benin, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal, and Togo.