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Building Nigeria’s capacity for Integrated Water Resources Management

By M.O Eduvie and D. Bashir, National Water Resources Institute Kaduna


Nigeria is endowed with abundant water resources, mineral and agricultural land of

various types. The intense petroleum development in the South and agricultural

activities in the North has a consequent degradation of the ecosystem.

Wells, lakes, rivers and wetlands are drying up with serious implication for the rich biodiversity associated with these systems making their sustainability and use for future generation highly questionable.

In order to effectively manage the nation’s water resources, there is

the need for integrated approach through the establishment of multidisciplinary and

proper coordination of capacity building institutions in Nigeria. The multidisciplinary

nature of IWRM highlights the need for co-ordination among capacity building

institutions in the delivery of IWRM services in the region. This necessitated the

establishment of WA-Net.

WA-Net is the West Africa Network for Capacity Building in IWRM. To further enhance the capability of this network, 31 Institutions involved inteaching, education and research have been identified and 17 of them have registered as members of the network with the National Water Resources Institute Kaduna as the nodal centre for capacity building institution in Nigeria. It is hoped that when the network is fully active, a better-integrated approach in water resources management in Nigeria would be achieved.


Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is understood as a process that

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 (Gordon,


Since the establishment of WA-Net, which is a regional network of capacity

building institutions in West Africa involved in training/education/research in the field of

integrated water resources management (IWRM), there has been a positive move for

countries involved to develop the network for the benefit of the region.

The participating countries includes Benin, Burkina Faso,Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea,

Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

Due to administrative reasons, there are three nodes with centers in Kaduna (Nigeria),

Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Kumasi (Ghana).

These nodes were selected on the

bases of language and geopolitical divisions at the Network Coordinators Meeting in

Accra on the 14th of February 2003. The node in Burkina Faso covers Franco-phone

West Africa including Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau while the Ghana node in addition to

Ghana covers Sierra Leone, Liberia and The Gambia.

Nigeria Nodal Centre

The Nigeria node is serving capacity building institutions in Nigeria and because of its

size and the number of capacity building institutions under its coverage, it is anticipated

that this node will be transformed into a national network. At present there are 17

involved in teaching, education and research institutions registered with the network in


The Need for Partnership

The Global Water Partnership has identified the following nine IWRM elements: water

sector assessments, water policy and strategy, water legislation and standards,

institutional framework, participatory planning and management, allocation across (sub)

sectors and conflict resolution, functions and values of water resources, trans-boundary

issues, and linkages between land, water and ecosystems (Gordon, 1998).

These are

some examples of the broad perspective of IWRM; sector interaction and conflict

resolution are other examples. Understanding what IWRM entails should go beyond and

combine the above elements.

IWRM is a broad concept difficult to translate into action. It examines a wide range of

solutions, and considers how different actions affect and can reinforce each other.

Despite universal acceptance of the IWRM concept, its implementation has not been

achieved in either developed or developing countries. Additional to other constraints,

there is an obvious education and training needs to “produce” the experts who will be

able to implement IWRM.


The West Africa Capacity Building Network for Integrated Water Resources Management

(WA-Net) was inaugurated in June 2002 and its mission and objectives were clarified on

February 15th, 2003, in Accra. This is one of the emerging capacity building networks

established to improve the human resource capacity for better management of water


The mission of WA-Net is…

“To promote effective partnership for training, research, education and

dissemination of information in the West Africa sub-region based on the

demand driven approach” (Yillia, 2003).

In achieving this mission WA-Net seeks to:

1. Promote regional co-operation among training/research institutions and

organizations engaged in IWRM related activities through joint regional training and

research activities;

2. Strengthen the capacities of the training/research institutions and organizations

engaged in IWRM related activities in the region for effective training in IWRM;

3. Facilitate demand-driven training/Research activities in the sub-region in IWRM; and

4. Promote the culture of IWRM in the region

The four objectives above provide the cornerstone for action over the next coming

years. Thus, the need for active network programme, which represents the mechanism

by which WA-Net, will fulfill its mission. The focus is on the countries in the West African

sub-region with specific emphasis on trainers, water sector professionals and

stakeholders (Yillia, 2003).

As identified by Cap-Net, “capacity building is the sum of efforts needed to nurture,

enhance and utilize the skills and capabilities of people and institutions at all levels –

locally, nationally, regionally and internationally – so that they can progress towards a

broader goal.

At the basic conceptual level, building capacity involves empowering

people and organizations to solve their problems, rather than attempting to fix those

problems directly. When capacity building is successful, the result is that more people

and institutions are able to provide better products and services on a sustainable basis.”

It is therefore unquestionable that “human resource development through training and

education is the key dimension of capacity building” (Cap-Net, 2002).

Conclusions and Recommendations

The establishments of IWRM network will further strengthen the overall human and

institutional capacity of the water sector in Nigeria and will contribute to the wise use of

water resources for the purpose of water supply and sanitation, agriculture and the


It will also stimulate regional co-operation in the field of water resources

research and generally increase the accessibility to training for participants from Nigeria

and other regions. A good data base of capacity building institutions and as a source of

local skills would be achieved in addition to improved linkages between network and the

implementing agencies thus increasing the relevance and visibility of the network.

To effectively manage the deteriorating and depleting water resources of Nigeria, there

is the need to raise awareness and promote IWRM principles through trainings, more

participation in the network by institutions involved in water resources training and


There is the need to organise more seminars and Training the Trainer (ToT)

workshops. Lastly, adequate funding should be provided for the network.