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A Memorandum on Strengthening of Institutional Framework for Implementing Integrated Water Resources Management in Nigeria

Below are excerpts of the 7 page memorandum signed by Professor I. J. Goldface-Irokalibe (Chairman, NTSC-IWRM) presented to the National Committe on Water Resources (NCWR) in Jos, Nigeria, November 2010.

In line with the global best practices and as a part of its efforts to reposition the water sector to meet the emerging challenges of social and economic development, the Federal Government of Nigeria has adopted the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach as a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.

Implementation Status

In May 2007, the Federal Government of Nigeria expressed a policy-shift in the nation’s water resources management by establishing the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission as the apex body for the regulation and coordination of water resources development and management activities in the country. With the establishment of an administrative headquarters in Abuja and five out of eight planned catchment offices across the country, the commission has since commenced operation with progress on a number of projects and programmes that are of strategic importance to the successful implementation of IWRM in the country.

Also in May 2010, with the Federal Government approval of the creation of a National Technical Sub-committee on Integrated Water Resources Management (NTSC_IWRM) as an advisory and advocacy body to the National Technical Committee on Water Resources (NTCWR), the sub-committee has to-date, organized series of meetings and activities aimed at promoting and propagating the ideals and principles of the IWRM as well as setting the roadmap for effective institutionalization of IWRM practices in the country.

Challenges and Constraints

Despite the laudable and colossal initiative taken by the government in implementing the IWRM nationwide, there are still a number of challenges and constraints which constitute serious impediments that need to be addressed to ensure effective implementation of IWRM in the country including:

–         the lack of an enabling law for the establishment of the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources and Management Commission (NIWRMC). The bill for the NIWRMC is still before the National Assembly undergoing legislative process for enactment into law;

–         a lapse in the existing draft National Water Resources Policy document which did not take cognizance of the existence of the Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission (NIWRMC)

–         the presence of 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 practices in the country;

–         the existence of 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), Kaduna and the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and approved by the council (NCWR) in May 2010, which vested the power of licensing borehole drilling on the Honorable Minister of Water Resources whereas the bill yet to be enacted into enabling law for the NIWRMC already mandated the licensing of abstraction of both surface and underground water on the NIWRMC. It is, of course feared that this functional conflict, if not corrected at this point in time, may lead to a situation where both offices (Minister of Water Resources and NIWRMC)will start acting at cross-purposes on the issue of licensing of groundwater abstraction;

–         even after a resolution of the Johannesburg World Water Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002 that every nation should develop IWRM 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 realize this noble objective as at 2010. As such, recent flooding incidents and other water related disasters in several parts of the country have accentuated the yawning gap created by the lack of integrated approach to water resource management in the country and in particular, the absence of Water Resource Management Strategies and Efficiency Plans.

Having stated the challenges and constraints, the council is hereby invited to note:

-the need to fast track the legislative process of enacting the enabling law for the establishment of Nigeria Integrated Water Resources Management Commission (NIWRMC), which bill is presently before the National Assembly;

– the need to revisit the existing draft National Water Resources Policy document for purposes of updating it in line with current realities ;

– the conflicting information on Government’s reported plan to disengage from partnership funding of water projects and the need to make a categorical statement stating Governments position;

– the observed functional overlap between the office of the Honorable Minister And The NIWRMC as it relates to licensing of underground water abstraction;

– the need for development of IWRM strategies and Water Efficiency Plans for the entire country, incorporating IWRM Flood management Plans, among others, for the flood-prone areas of the country in line with the 2002 WSSD Johannesburg resolution

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