Daily Trust (Abuja)

31 January 2013

Nigeria: MDGs Targets On Water Achievable, Says Minister's Aide

The Federal Ministry of Water Resources says the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target of reducing the number of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015 is achievable.

Prof Dimis Mai-Lafia, Special Assistant (Technical) to the Minister of Water of Resources, Mrs Sarah Ochekpe, stated this in an interview with newsmen.

Mai-Lafia said the fact that the ministry had continued to implement its water projects and programmes was an indication that the target would be met.

"The fact that we are not just standing in one place, we are moving means we will get there. What is important in life is that, if we are on a journey, keep moving. It may be slow; all that you need is some encouragement to double up but one day you will be there, we are hoping to meet the targets.

"Every year, contracts have been awarded for examples, dams, boreholes, irrigation and for sanitation, our river basins development authorities about 12 of them; they are working hard in all of these aspects.

"Some of them have started the production of table water in order to compliment some of the other efforts in their communities, like Cross River Basin Development Authority and some other ones are doing it.

"So, the facilities, the structure are on ground, we need some back up and cooperation, and more budgetary provision to make them work"

Commenting on the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF 2012 report on water and sanitation, he admitted that Nigeria's ranking was below WHO's expectation.

The WHO and UNICEF 2012 report ranked Nigeria third behind China and India as a country with the largest populations without adequate water supply and sanitation coverage.

"The truth of the matter is that, yes, we have a problem in coverage; even some of the statistics available say we have only about 50 something per cent water coverage, it is not good enough, to have less than 60 per cent, it falls below the World Health Organisation requirement, we agree with that, even in the sanitation and environment.

"Even here in the city, look at the environment and see the attitude to the way we handle our environment. We have been seeing that, people never care about that, it needs a lot of change in orientation.

"Secondly, if you leave them with no option, you have given them every option; no alternative is every alternative that is available to you. Because if somebody in a motor park , for example wants to ease himself, if the facilities are not there, since he has no option than to go behind any vehicle and does his thing"

"Some of the communities are getting sensitised; they are becoming partners; you see, it is just a sense of ownership; these projects are now our own; so, we will protect it. Just like a person will protect power holding company's transformer.

"So, the same attitude should apply to a borehole; protect it; don't allow anybody to vandalise it and also If it gets bad, you don't need a Memorandum of Understanding for people to do it. If it gets to that, we may."

NAN

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