By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has expressed the readiness of his administration to improve the water supply needs of residents towards achieving universal access to safe water by the year 2030.
Meantime, the state government has concluded plans to commission a Testing and Reference Laboratory that would aid and prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases in the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu disclosed this yesterday, while speaking at the opening of this year’s Lagos International Water Conference, held at Victoria Island, Lagos.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, the governor stressed that access to clean water is extremely essential, which to a large extent determines how well people flourish even when other basic rights are in place.
According to him, the current theme has four main objectives: Bringing together a diverse range of practitioners, scientists, development partners, and industry representatives working in different areas of water and sanitation across the world. Identifying breakthroughs (research and practice) in addressing water security challenges; Reflecting on efforts by the Government of Lagos State and the Federal Government of Nigeria towards achieving SDG-6 targets and renewing the government’s commitment to achieving universal access to safe water and sanitation for all by 2030 as well as outlining the situation of urban water supply in Lagos State, to bring out a business case for would-be investors.
While highlighting the challenges, Sanwo-Olu, noted that the Lagos State Water Corporation produces 210 million gallons per day (MGD) against the daily water demand estimate of 540 MGD by the Lagos State Water Supply Master Plan, noting that the figures showed a clear deficit of over 300MGD, which translates to less than 40 percent of the population having access to clean, and safe water.
While stating that the government was not oblivious of the huge gap and its consequences on the health of the populace, stressed that his administration remained dedicated to its goal of becoming a global point of reference in the provision of sustainable safe water and sanitation for its increasing population.
Sanwo-Olu further stated that in furtherance of his commitment to affordable and sustainable clean water supply, his government has signed a three-year memorandum of understanding with WaterAid, an International Non-governmental Organization on capacity building for approved regulation and expansion of clean water access.
Commenting on the theme of the conference, “Water Security and Investment Opportunities in Megacities: A case of Lagos State”, Sanwo-Olu said, “it speaks to the huge gap between daily water demand and supply in the State, how we can achieve water security and also harness the investment opportunities in the water sector”
He added that the conference will transform lives, impact the economics of water management, regulation and help to chart a new trajectory for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) initiatives as well as environmental sustainability in Lagos State.
Speaking on the water treatment, Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the laboratory will be commissioned in a couple of weeks, adding that the laboratory is in addition to the proposed development finance Institution investment fund that will make Lagos the first African Megacity to adopt leading technologies in community-based off the grid water supply.
He added that through the Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission, the state government had been able to curb unwholesome water production and indiscriminate drilling of boreholes which is a major contributor to a lower aquifer, flooding, saltwater intrusion and pollution from other sources.
Earlier, the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, noted that the Conference was intentionally organized to focus on solutions and results capable of unbundling the obstacles to financial viability and access to clean water and sanitation through experimental knowledge.
He added: “Water, no doubt, is indispensable to human existence; its security and access to inhabitants of a state like Lagos, with a surging population of over 24 million people and projected annual growth rate of 3.2 percent is of critical concern and surely demand attention and to which the present administration of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu is poised to resolve for the benefit of Lagosians.”
The Country Director, WaterAid Nigeria, Evelyn Mere stated that access to sustainable and equitable safe drinking water remains a challenge in Nigeria, with over 60 million people in the country lacking access to a basic water supply. Poor water quality and lack of equity in access compound the problem.
She added that the changing climate is making life harder for the poorest people in Nigeria, who are already struggling to get the clean water right.
Evelyn Mere disclosed that based on research and analysis by Development Initiatives, the report documents Nigeria’s progress in the WASH sector and challenges the country will face in the coming decade. We estimate the total cost of achieving SDG6 in Nigeria to be $2.1 billion a year in capital, operations, and maintenance.
She reiterated that with the COVID-19 pandemic still ranging across the world, the need for quality water, sanitation, and hygiene services has never been more important.