23 November 2010

Nigeria: In Search of Measures to Mitigate Effects of Climate Change


Abuja — In recent times, the National Council on Water Resources (NCWR) has been seeking approval for measures needed to develop an effective flood monitoring and forecasting in the country,

in an effort to reposition the water sector to meet the emerging challenges of social and economic developments and to also develop a comprehensive framework that would take into consideration,planning and management of water resources to mitigate the effects of climate change. Grace Azubuike examines the impact of such measures when adopted and the overall effects on the nation's economy and many more.

In line with global best practices and as part of its efforts to reposition the water sector to meet the emerging challenges of social and economic development, the federal government is set to adopt the integrated water resources management approach as a process that would promote the coordinated development and management of water, land and other related resources.

However, the objective is to develop a comprehensive framework that would take into consideration, planning and management of water resources in the country.

The federal government in may 2007, gave expression to its policy- shift in the nation's water resources management by the establishment of the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission(NIWMC) as the apex body for the regulation and coordination of water resources development and management activities in the country.

Also, there are still challenges and constraints which constitute serious impediments that must be addressed to ensure effective implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the country.

Some of the challenges are; Lack of an enabling law for the establishment of Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission, conflicting information regarding government's planned disengagement from partnership funding of water projects, which if confirmed as true, shall constitute a bottleneck to the effective implementation of IWRM in the country and functional conflict occasioned by the provision of the recent code of practice for drilling of boreholes in the country, developed jointly by the National Water Resources Institute(NWRI).

In fact, it is instructive to note that despite a resolution of the World Water Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002, to the effect that every nation should develop integrated water resources management and water efficiency plans by 2005, as a pre-requisite for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, Nigeria is yet to comply to this agreement.

Recent flooding incidents and other water related disasters in several parts of the country have also shown the absence of water resources management strategies and efficiency plans.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Water Reources, Chief Obadiah Ando, said that in order to combat and mitigate the effects of climate change phenomenon on socio-economic development in the country, there is need to re-emphasis the rapid irrigation development programme. The main thrust of the programme is to ensure that during heavy rainfall, floods are arrested and released for irrigation purposes during dry season, hence, the ministry is putting a machinery in motion to develop inundation maps along major rivers to control the migration and use of flood plains with high hazard potentials.

The minister further stated that as a practical demonstration of government's unflinching commitment to the course of water development and management internationally, Nigeria successfully hosted the 9th summit of heads of states and governments of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA) under the chairmanship of President Goodluck Jonathan and actively participated at the 13th summit of the Lake Chad Basin Commission at N'Djamina, Chad Republic.

Nigeria has experienced some challenges that have been attributed to climate change effects. The recent flood events across the country have caused hardship, loss of lives and property, these challenges underscore the need for concerted efforts by all concerned, at local, State and national levels to effectively mainstream climate change into development strategies and programmes.

At this juncture,it is important to suggest that Nigeria as a signatory to United Nations Framework Convention For Climate Change (UNFCCC), should put in place strong monitoring systems for the development of appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures in response to climate change effects .

Similarly, large public investments have been made in the construction of water resources infrastructure, however, the level of utilisation of our abundant land and water resources in the nation is still very low and there is the need for further considerable investments towards the realisation of the country's goals of increased food production, attainment of self-sufficiency and sustained food security.

Although the provision of irrigation infrastructure has commenced on some of these projects, the pace is too slow, the result is that most of these dams, which had impounded water for over two-three decades without serving their desired purpose now have high hazard potentials.

Significantly, Nigeria has been involved in dam construction since 1912.

Visual inspection and various monitoring exercises carried out in the past and general survey revealed that some Nigerian dams are not instrumented, some are poorly instrumented while for some, the instruments are not regularly read out and interpreted to enable members of the public have firsthand information.

A communiqué issued at the end of the 20th regular meeting of the National Council on Water Resources held in Jos recently, noted that a good dam monitoring and instrumentation system was important to guide against potential dam safety hazards.It also stressed the effect of climate change on the water sector by way of excess precipitation, rising sea levels, increased desertification, soil and land degradation.

The Council therefore directed that full measures be taken by the ministry of water resources in collaboration with other stakeholders to undertake more studies and create awareness and measures as they pertain to water sector development, while also emphasising on the need for a comprehensive national survey and inventory of dam instrumentation and monitoring in the country.

The Council further demanded for effective hydro-meteorological monitoring of impacts of climate change on water and appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures to be put in place at local, State and national levels.

It also advocated the need for a complete synergy among the stakeholders, such as; Ministry of Water Resources (Climate Change Unit), Ministry of Environment, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs), Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and research institutes for the development of adaptive measures.

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