23 September 2003

Nigeria: National Blueprint On Water Underway - Atiku

In an effort to ensure its availability across the country by 2007, the federal government has commenced the formulation of a national blueprint on water.

Vice President Atiku Abubakar made the disclosure in Abuja yesterday when he opened the 29th Water and Engineering Development Centre Conference.

He said the blueprint would enable the government to implement its "Water for the People and Water for Life" initiative.

"The objective of this initiative is to ensure that by 2007, all state capitals, three-quarters of urban and semi-urban areas and two-thirds of rural communities in Nigeria have access to safe water," Abubakar said.

He said the provision of water was of top priority because of its implications for social and economic development in terms of poverty alleviation, integrated rural development and rural job creation.

Giving statistics, Abubakar said government efforts in the water sector had led to an increase in water supply for domestic consumption from 30 per cent in 1999 to 57 per cent in 2003.

"We are certain of reaching a 60 per cent level by the end of 2003," he said.

The vice president further said the government was currently constructing small earth dams in semi-urban and rural areas for the provision of water for domestic and agricultural uses.

"We aim to achieve 80 per cent coverage in this area by the end of this administration in 2007," Abubakar said.

To achieve the target and ensure its sustainability, he said the government would adopt a multi-sectoral approach.

Abubakar, therefore, called on state governments to pay attention to water supply in their budgets.

He charged participants in the conference to develop policies and strategies that would help achieve the Millennium Development Goals in water supply.

The vice president also asked them to address the issue of high cost of new investments in the development of water resources infrastructure, which he suggested should be borne by the private sector.

"Time is now for us to search for and recommend alternative ways of funding water supply, if the millennium goals are to be attained and the poor fully catered for," Abubakar said.

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