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Flood Submerges Bayelsa Communities

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Residents of some coastal communities in Bayelsa State have expressed worry  over the devastation caused by the overflow of River Nun, a tributary of River Niger, in the area.
The Tide learnt  that the flood submerged some communities along the bank of the river.
It was  also reported that residents of Tombia community in Ekpetiama kingdom and Okordia-Zarama appear to be worst-hit, as vast sections of the two neighbourhoods have remained inundated since September 27.
Some of the residents told The Tide that they lost property such as houses, farmlands and fishing equipment to the disaster.
Mr Peter Otobotekere, the President of the Ekpetiama Youth Association, who said that the community had been experiencing perennial flooding for a long time, appealed to government to come to the aid of the residents.
He said that the residents had solicited the intervention of the government on several occasions but to no avail.
“We have been experiencing perennial flash floods for a very long time.
“Following warnings of impending floods by the Federal Government due to weather predictions for 2017, we expected that the state government should have done something to mitigate it.
“It is usual for water levels to rise at this time of the year, which often helps our fishing vocation.
“But the water level has reached a crisis point and sadly, there are no contingency plans for those of us who are vulnerable to flooding,” he said.
An environmentalist, Mr Alagoa Morris, also urged the state government to act on flood disaster warnings.
He underscored the need for the government to improve on its flood preparedness to mitigate the effect of flooding.
“There have been danger signs, as many communities near the Bayelsa flank of the East-West Road were already receiving excess water from the overflow of River Nun,” he said.

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World Water Day And Provision Of Clean Water

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The declaration by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in far back 1992 could be said to have set the stage for the annual World Water Day celebrations across the globe.
However, the first World Water Day  was celebrated in1993
It would be recalled that the United Nations had set aside 22nd of every year as World Water Day
Information  available to The Tide has it that the concept of World Water Day was suggested in Agenda 21 during the 3rd _14th 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
It was also learnt that later in December that year, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution,A/RES/47/193 designating March 22 as World Water Day.
It went on to say that the event was to highlight the importance of fresh water and advocate for the sustainable management of this important natural resources
For this year’s, the theme was “Water For Peace”
And as a part of the global community, the Rivers State Government also joined its counterparts across the world to mark the day.
It would be noted that the Rivers State Government through the Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources and Rural Development had  lined up a number of activities to commemorate the day.
Some of the activities include an inspection tour of the ongoing Port Harcourt Mega project with various stakeholders including school children and a symposium.
At  the symposium held at the Hotel Presidential,  Port Harcourt, various speakers highlighted the importance of clean water for the good health and wellbeing of the citizenry.
According to various speakers,  waterborne diseases were a major contributor to the  deaths of many citizens in the country
The conference also acknowledged the effort of the present administration in the State in ensuring clean and quality drinking water for the citizens
While declaring the event open,the Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Water Resources and Rural Development, Barrister Mrs Patience K Omereji said the celebration should provide the opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on the importance of clean water for the peace and stability of the society.
According to the Permanent Secretary, it behooves on  the people to reflect on the critical role that water plays in fostering peace and stability across the globe
‘With this year’s theme, Water For Peace,”we are reminded of the undeniable connection between access to clean water and the promotion of peaceful coexistence among nations and communities, particularly those sharing borders”
Omereji said that the theme should serve as a wake up call to emphasise the importance of water as a catalyst for peace building effort
“This suggests that ensuring access to clean water and managing water resources sustainably can contribute to conflict prevention and resolution where water rights are prevalent,”she said.
She said the Rivers State Government is not only working hard to ensure citizens get access to clean water but is determined to end open defecation by 2030.
‘Here in Rivers State, under the able leadership of Governor Siminalayi Fubara,we understand that water and sanitation are entwined drivers of public health and as a result have joined the world in ending open defecation by the year 2030 “It is of note that the type of access, quantum of water supply and quality of sanitation facilities available determine to a great extent the quality of life of the people and the potential for poverty alleviation.
“Sustainable service delivery of water supply, sanitation and hygiene as well as environmental sanitation are recognised as important elements for achieving improved health and a sustainable economy for the people of Rivers State.
“This was aptyly recognised in His Excellency Sir Siminalayi Fubara’s campaign manifestoes,”she said.
The Permanent Secretary also told the forum that the administration of Governor Siminalayi Fubara is SDG 6 compliant, adding that the government through the Ministry of Water Resources and Rural Development is making concerted efforts in implementing policies and strategies that ensure equitable access to clean water resources while promoting cooperation among stakeholders
“Worthy of note is the ongoing robust works called the Port Harcourt Water supply and sanitation projects that are at various stages of completion
She said the scheme when completed will deliver safe water to homes both within Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
On his part, the former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources and Rural Development, Elder Samuel Ijeoma decried the incessant vandalisation of water facilities by unscrupulous elements in the State.
Ijeoma who said he was happy that the Eleme Water project is functioning, said clean water is very important as water borne diseases kill faster than COVID-19 and other dieseases.
He also decried the proliferation of water satchet factories, adding that many people drink poison in the name of pure water.
The former Permanent Secretary, however, said people must be prepared to pay for clean water as is being done in the developed countries.
He said clean water is not free , noting that even in America, people pay for water consumption.
Ijeoma also said lack of regulation has led to unhygienic practices by some satchet water producers, as some boreholes are sited close to suckaways.
The former Permanent Secretary, who is the Director General of the Rivers State Pensions Board decried the incessant vandalisation of reticulation facilities.
He urged the Ministry to use the annual World Water Day celebration to come up with programmes that will make the citizenry to have access to clean water, stressing that World Water Day had become mere celebrations without concrete results. Ijeoma, who was chairman of the occasion also urged the Ministry to reach out to the Governor on the issue.
In his presentation, the Project Coordinator of the Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project (HYPREP), Prof. Nenni- barini Zabbey said HYPREP is on the same page with the Rivers State Government as for as the provision of clean water is concerned.
He said the agency is presently undertaking water project in more than 18 communities across the four Ogoni local government areas .
Zabbey said apart from water projects, the agency is also intervening in the areas of shoreline protection and mangrove resuscitation in Ogoni
According to him, HYPREP will continue to collaborate with the state government in designing and execution of water projects.
General Manager of the Port Harcourt Water Corporation, Chief Ibibia Walter decried the politicisation of water.
He said the water sector has suffered neglect over the years as successive governments do not see it as a necessary campaign tool.
Walter said the proliferation of water agencies has not  even helped in the supply of clean water to the people, adding that in some countries even the MinistrIes of Water Resources was non existent.
He however warned the government to be careful as the scrambled for water may breed future conflicts not only in the state but across the country.
Speaking with newsmen, the Chairman of the Association of Table Water Producers (ATWAP) Oke Okafor denied that satchet water is poisonous.
He said the association has a department that ensures quality control as well as regulate entries into the industry .
Others who spoke pointed out the importance of clean water to the health and wellbeing of the people.
They said time has come for government to ensure that people have access to quality and clean water.
The event also featured a drama sketch by the Rivers State Art Council and a lecture.
Just as it is always said, “water,  water every where but no water to drink.”
Indeed, there is “water everywhere but no water to drink.” This lack of clean water had sometimes resulted to severe cases of waterborne diseases such as Cholera and others.
Just as it was observed at the event, the water day celebration has become an annual ritual but has it translated to provision of quality water for the citizenry? This is a question that stakeholders in the water sector should provide answer to.

By: John Bibor

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Environment

Population And The Environment In Nigeria – TooBig To Go Green?

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The “Giant of Africa”, Nigeria is a country rich with natural resources, and the largest population on the continent with 219 million people. Africa’s giant is predicted to get even bigger, as the population is forecast to grow to 377 million people by 2050. However, its natural resources are already under strain, with rising carbon emissions and increasing deforestation.
As part of our series of blogs looking at Nigeria in preparation for our Population Conversation roundtable event next week, we ask: with a booming population, what lies ahead for Nigeria’s environment?
Nigeria has the biggest population and economy in Africa, with a population of 219 million. It’s predicted to overtake the US to become the world’s third most populated country by 2051. Nigeria’s rapid growth is the result of its large young population coming into child-bearing age, with currently half of the population under the age of 19. It’s home to some of Africa’s richest individuals, however stark wealth inequality divides the country, with two-thirds of the population below the poverty line.
Nigeria is a country incredibly susceptible to the effects of climate change. The capital city Lagos bordering on Nigeria’s coastline is vulnerable to rising sea levels. A UN report revealing that many communities in the Niger Delta have lost or fear losing their homes due to coastal erosion.
Rising global temperatures will also endanger Nigerians with an increasing frequency of heat waves. Nigeria’s Climate Risk profile predicts that more than 20% of the population will be exposed to heatwaves that are detrimental to human health. And the number of “very hot days” is set to increase by about 90 days in most regions.
Nigeria’s economy is predominantly built upon oil and gas exports, profits from fossil fuels accounting for 93% of Nigeria’s export revenue. Nigeria produced 129 metric tons of CO2 in 2023, the 4th highest emissions in Africa.
The bulk of Nigeria’s emissions are from oil and gas production, and the practice of “gas venting”, where unwanted gases surfaced during oil production – predominantly methane – are released into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas 28 times more potent that carbon dioxide.
There is also “gas flaring”, the practice of burning off surfaced gases, releasing carbon dioxide as a by-product that contributes to emissions. An estimated 6.6 billion cubic metres of gas was flared in Nigeria in 2021 – making it the world’s seventh largest gas flarer.
Despite the massive production of oil and gas, Nigeria has one of the highest rates of energy poverty in the world. The World Economic Forum defines energy poverty as the ‘lack of access to modern energy services and products’, a situation where there is an absence of sufficient choice in accessing adequate, reliable, affordable, safe, and environmentally suitable energy services.
Lawson writes from Lagos.

By: Humphrey Lawson

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Environment

Environmentalist Cautions Residents Against Dumping Waste In Drainages 

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Following the advent of rainy season, an environmentalist, Elder Blessing Jackson Tiko has cautioned residents of Port Harcourt City and its environs against dumping refuse into drainages and gutters.
Tiko, who is the Deputy Operations Officer, Port Harcourt City Environmental Sanitation Taskforce  said it has become necessary for residents of the city to know that the rains have started and so, should avoid dumping refuse into drainages and gutters inorder to avoid flooding in the city
Elder Tiko  who spoke to The Tide in an exclusive interview said while government is doing its part to check flooding in the city, residents should also play their part by keeping the drainages and gutters clean.
“My advice to them is to know that the rains are here and they should avoid any thing that will bring back flood to the city.
“They should desist from dumping refuse into drainages and gutters. These things cause flooding, it should be avoided”, he said.
He said the taskforce is ready to assist any street that needs its assistance in terms of evacuation of refuse.
Tiko also described the rainfalls as an answer to prayers, adding that the rains have gone a long way in reducing heat, dust and mosquitoes.
He however blamed the extreme weather on climate change, adding that time has come for both the authorities and individuals to take drastic measures towards checking the trend.
He also commended the Mayor of Port Harcourt, Chief Alwell Ihunda, for his support to the taskforce as well as his commitment towards  the cleanliness of the city.

By: ohn Bibor

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