While inaugurating the board in Abuja, the Minister of Water Resources Mrs. Sarah Reng Ochekpe said that the UNESCO Category 11 Centre for Integrated River Basin Management has the mandate to conduct training and research on all aspects of Integrated River Basin Management and also to provide data bank for Integrated River Basin Management in West Africa.
According to her, the Centre would also promote, review and develop the Institutional framework for the IRBM in the countries of the West African sub-region including International and Regional Treaties, Conventions and Agreements of Water laws, Water Policies and international best practices.
Ochekpe further said that the Centre would provide an efficient water management strategy within and across river basins at the Community, local, State, National, Regional, and International levels. It would also promote exchange of programmes among professionals, academic and other stakeholders from members states in west African sub-region, among others.
The Minister disclosed that the agreement for establishment of the Centre was signed between the Director General of UNESCO, Her Excellency Ms. Irina Bokova and the Hon. Minister of Water Resource Mrs. Sarah Reng Ochekpe during the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, France on 12th March 2012.
“The Regional Centre for Integrated River Basin Management was established within the framework of relevant laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as host country, in line with UNESCO guidelines for establishing Category II Centre. Article 8 of this Agreement provides for the appointment of a Governing Board, to guide and supervise the activities of the Centre.” The minister said.
Mrs. Ochekpe said that the Board is therefore expected to approve long-term and medium term programmes for the Centre, approve the annual work plan and budget of the Centre including the staffing, examine annual reports submitted by the Director of the Centre including a biennial self assessment of the Centre’s contributions to UNESCO programme objectives.
The Board is also expected to issue out the general rules and regulations as well as determine the financial, administrative and personnel management of the Centre. It is the duty of the Board to decide on participation of regional intergovernmental organizations and international organizations in the work of the Centre.
“Let me assure this august gathering that Government is making concerted efforts to provide a take-off fund for the operation of the Centre as contain in Article 13 of the Agreement. The National Water Resources Institute has been saddled with the responsibilty in the Interim of operating the Centre.” She said.
In his response, the Chairman of the Governing Board, Professor Oladapo Afolabi thanked the Hon. Minister for considering them worthy for the appointment. He assured the Hon. Minister that members of the Board would work hard to achieve the mandate of Centre.
The Head of Permanent delegate and Nigerian Ambassador to UNESCO, Mrs. Maryam Katagum, said that the establishment of the Centre would enable the Member countries to learn from one another.
The Member Countries include Benin, Burkinafaso, Cape Verde, Cote’d I voire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.