Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, has said the livelihoods of over 130 million people living in the Niger Basin were at risk of climate change and other environmental challenges.
He stated this at the technical experts meeting of the 36th ordinary session of the Council of Ministers of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA), in Abuja, stressing the need for member countries to commit finances to the development of the basin.
He said: "You are all aware that the Niger Basin area is rich in diversity and its population of more than 130 million inhabitants. However, this wealth is facing many challenges."
Adamu, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Musa Ibrahim, identified delay in payment of counterpart funds by member countries as one of the challenges confronting the institution.
"In fact, we cannot talk about the development of the Niger Basin and its regional institution unless we make available the financial resources needed in a timely manner for the work required.
"The repeated delays in the payment of member countries' contributions have been identified as one of the major constraint in the operation of our institution."We must encourage the technical and financial partners by ensuring that adequate funding is made available for the operations of the institution. The well-being of the people depends on it," he added.
Coordinator of the NBA National Focal Structure Nigeria, Paul Adalikwu, said the River Niger was very important not only to Nigeria but also to other member countries that depended on its resources for their livelihood.
Adalikwu, while the Federal Government for its contributions and support for trans-boundary activities, said this signifies the highest priority the county places on cooperation and coexistence.He said it was sad to know that for the first time since 1985, the River Niger completely dried up in Niamey, Niger Republic due to climate change.
Also speaking, Executive Secretary of the NBA, Abderahim Hamid, expressed concern over the continuous shrinkage of the River Niger, a development he ascribed to the impact of climate change.He said promoting cooperation among member countries and contributing to improving the living conditions of the basin population through sustainable management of water resources was key to the development of the region.
The NBA an intergovernmental organisation in West Africa aimed at fostering co-operation in managing and developing the resources of the River Niger Basin. Its members comprise Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Guinea, and Cote d'Ivoire.