Stakeholders have called on states benefitting from the $700 million World Bank-supported Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH) Programme to show political commitment for project sustainability.
This was the consensus among stakeholders at a virtual SURWASH public consultation meeting held recently.
The meeting was organised by the Bread of Life Development Foundation and other stakeholders in the water and sanitation sector.
The Tide source recalls that the World Bank had approved a $700 million SURWASH programme in seven states of the country.
The benefitting states are; Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, and Plateau.
Mr Babatope Babalobi, representative of the foundation, said the five-year project would also support Federal Government’s implementation of the National Action Plan, which sought to change the poor narrative in the Water and Sanitation sector.
According to Babalobi, there is need for the World Bank to strengthen its monitoring teams towards ensuring that they get their desired result in improving access to potable water and sanitation for Nigerians.
He said the need to have strong human capacity institutions in the country was very essential, as they would help to end challenges of project management and implementation.
“We want the World Bank to increase its human capacity presence in the country, lessons learnt from previous interventions showed that the country achieved an unsatisfactory report.
“There is need for a task team leader who will be resident in Nigeria to oversee activities and monitor project implementation,” Babalobi said.
Babalobi expressed the need for the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the seven states to take ownership of the project and ensure that programme implementation guidelines were strictly followed.
cess to potable water and sanitation.
“The consequences would have been much if World Bank and other development partners’ interventions were not involved, so we are focusing on capacity building and institutional strengthening this time around,” Ajisegiri said.
He said it had been observed that many states had not shown enough commitment to project implementation, saying SURWASH implementation was based on the tenets of project for result.
“We have seen subsequent interventions with no serious political commitment, like the states bringing people directly to do the job without going through procurement.
“Now, states have set up their own Project Implementation Unit, they must now take the ‘driver’s seat’ and build their capacity for implementation,” Ajisegiri said.
According to a ministry official, Mr Abdulhamid Gwaram, the SURWASH programme rests on the theme of ‘Not leaving Anyone Behind’, saying benefiting states’ eligibility is based on readiness criteria.
Gwaram noted that states would go through the international development funds and bank financing, saying no specific allocation would be done until states had shown commitment through investment.
“States must show readiness and timelines to implement programme, expected results, sustainability plans; they must show political commitment too.
“The seven states were selected through a readiness criteria and a transparent process. Out of the $700 million, $640 million will be used for financing projects while $60 million will be used for technical assistance.
“It is performance-driven and there is no reward for non-performing states, they can be replaced if they fail to perform,” he said.
Gwaram added that it was the desire of the ministry to see that public utilities worked for sustainable economic recovery and also respond to COVID-19 pandemic.
Flood: NEMA, Experts Task Communities On Preventive Measures
The agency made the call while responding to a Tide source survey on Challenges of Flooding during rainfall.
The reports say that some states in the South East Zone of Nigeria experience perennial flooding during rainy seasons which threatens lives and the economy of the country, hence the survey.
Some of the stakeholders who spoke to the agency maintained that flood posed disaster risk, not only to prone areas but the nation’s economic development.
The Acting Head of NEMA, Imo/Abia Operations Office, Mr Ifeanyi Nnaji, advised affected communities to always monitor sea level in their areas.
He said the Disaster Risk Management Implication of the 2022 flood prediction by NEMA through the Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) will soon be released to help prepare the society for emergency.
”The Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) and the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) give the organisation effective planning of weather-related disaster management in Nigeria,” he said.
Nnaji further advised the public to desist from indiscriminate disposal of waste in or around water channels.
According to him, such habit hinders the free passage of rain water, hence causing the overflow of rain water beyond boundaries to damaging proportions.
Also, the Executive Secretary of Imo State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mrs Agnes Ajoku, expressed concern over the negative impact of flood on the society.
She said if not properly managed, flood effect could cause shortage of food, ecological disaster and even loss of lives and property.
“In 2018, Imo experienced one of the greatest flooding in the history of the state, which left many people homeless, while some lost their lives to the flood.
“Since flooding in most cases is a natural disaster, there is the need for both government and the people to take strict measures to prevent heavy effect of flooding.
“One of the ways is for citizens to stop the habit of blocking drainage system centrally built to checkmate flood with waste,” she said.
She also advised against building on water ways, adding that such structures built on the water ways are potential disaster.
A Director in the Ministry of Environment, Dr Clement Anyawu, said government should consider demolishing all buildings around water ways.
Anyawu said the ministry had studied Federal Government prediction for the 2022 flood outlook, adding that necessary actions had been taken to address the issue.
He appealed to residents in the flood prone communities to always adhere to early warning measures stipulated by relevant agencies.
In Abia, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) said that 45 communities in 14 local government areas of the state were currently being ravaged by flooding.
The Executive Secretary of the agency, Dr Sunday Jackson, told Tide source that the state had already begun to experience high rainfall, in line with the 2022 Seasonal Climate Prediction by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency.
According to him the Annual Flood Outlook Prediction by the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency also shows that Abia, was one of the highly probable flood risk states in the country.
Kerosene Scarcity: Households Resort To Firewood
Our correspondents report that a bottle of kerosene is now selling between N700 and N800 in some markets especially in Port Harcourt City and environs.
A recent market survey conducted by our correspondents on the prices of the product in some markets in Port Harcourt shows that a bottle of kerosene which used to sell N150 and N200 now sells at N700 to N800.
A visit to the Eleme junction market shows the product selling at N700 while at the small market at Igbo Etche, the product is selling at N800.
Investigation also revealed that in some rural communities, especially in the riverine areas the product is non existent.
Similarly, prices of firewoods have also gone up, at Igbo Etche, a trader told The Tide that a bundle of firewood which before at N100 now sells between N300 to N400.
According to Mrs. OgechiIzuba, “even firewood self is scarce”, adding that they now go to bush markets to get them.
The Tide also learnt that some food vendors have also increased the prices of their food.
A food vendor who simply gave her name as Mrs. Blessing told our correspondent that the situation was affecting her business negatively.
In her words, “ I have increased the price of my food because of the increase in kerosene and firewood prices.
“I barely make enough from sales and this increment is really not helping”.
She also said she resorted to the use of firewood because of the increase in price of kerosene.
“ I started using firewood because I could not cope up. It is raining season now.
Speaking with our correspondent at Eneka, Miss Caroline Mbata regretted that kerosene which used to be at the doorsteps of every household was now a scarce commodity.
She said the price of the product was driving the women to revert to the old method of using fire wood as a source of energy and stressed the need for the government to do something about it.
Also, a petty trader, Obinna Johnson said the situation was biting is bitting harder on many households.
He regretted that kerosene which was the commonest product for the common man was now a scarce commodity.
Obinna also urged the government to do something about it.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Reginagilead Foundation for the elderly, Mrs. Ebiware .N. Helen has called on households not to increase their reliance on firewood for cooking.
Helen, who spoke on the situation in an interview with The Tide said cutting down trees for firewood has a big negative impact on the environment.
She said the situation contributed to climate change, stressing that instead of using firewood, they can use coal.
Helen said firewood smoke caused blindness, “we do not need kerosene and firewood. Coal does not generate smoke.
“ Coal is very cheap to get, it does not cost much so i am appealing to our women to look for coal instead of kerosene and firewood” she said.
By: John Bibor, Oribimlbama & Precious Boms
Forum Blames Rate Of Respiratory Infections On Soot
The forum which held in Port Harcourt was sponsored by the Arua Centre of Excellence for Urbanisation and Habitat Cities and University of Lagos
It was funded by the UKRI /Global challenge Research through the network Grant,establishing the African Network for Urbanisation and Habitable cities.
A cross session of participants drawn from the various local government areas of Rivers State also identified some major culprits in the illegal oil activities.
They said the situation has increased poverty, especially among the rural folks.
According to them,some rural dwellers resorted to herbal medicine in a bid to contain the ravaging effect of the soot on them.
They particularly noted that tablets such as,paracetamol has increased in price from N50 to N200,while Vitroline is now sold at N400 from N50.
The participants also said price of frannol has risen from N50 to N400.
They said even cost of accommodation in Port Harcourt is beyond the reach of the common man.
According to them some of the culprits include the security agencies, host communities, youths,transportation companies as well as buyers of the products.
They also urged the government to creat employment with a view to directing the attention of the youth from bunkering activities.
They decried the high cost of food stuff supplement and diesel.
Speaking Country Director of Centre for Development Support Initiative, Dr Mina Ogbanga said the group was sponsoring some bills on soot and climate change in the Rivers State House of Assembly.
She said the group was working hard to domesticate the National Act in climate change in the state through the sponsorship of climate change bill .
Ogbanga said the group was desirous in ensuring that the State was free from the soot.
She said the bill against illegal oil bunkering was before the state assembly as well as the state environmental protection amendment bill.
According to her,CEDSI is at the forefront of pushing for the passage of the bill.
She said the National Action plan which Will soon be localised in the state will address issues concerning climate change.
In her words, “CEDSi is looking for a zero soot in Rivers state.The drive is to have zero percent tolerance the soot”.
By: John Bibor & Oribim Ibama
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