Centre calls for political will on water

The African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development has expressed worry over water crises in the country, calling for political commitment from the three tiers of government to reverse the trend.

Dr Otive Igbuzor, Executive Director of the centre, who made the call at the sidelines of the National Summit on the Human Right to Water in Abuja, noted that it was regretable that the sector was bedeviled with poor access.

He noted that the importance of water cannot be over-emphasised, saying as one of the most important substances on earth, poor people lack access to clean water.

According to him, the lack of water is known to be the leading cause of preventable diseases, making women and children more vulnerable to acute water shortages, and trekking long distances to get water.

“Women are disproportionately affected as they and children are often responsible for collecting water, the crisis is contributing to health crisis, education crises and economic crises.

“The implication is that if the present trend continues, there could be a 40 per cent gap between water supply and demand by 2030 and by 2040, there will not be enough water to quench the thirst of the world population.’’

He noted that with political commitment from the different tiers of government, deliberate funding and improved water governance, lives would be better.

“All those working and struggling for access to water and a clean environment must link their struggle with the broader struggle for a society wherever there is justice.

`The water crises cannot be solved in isolation, it requires the resolution of the crisis of the Nigerian state.’’

The executive director stressed the need for citizens to demand for their right to water by making their voices heard, adding that there was the need for non-state actors to desist from infringement on the rights of citizens, especially the poor and excluded.

On privatisaion of water utilities, Igbuzor said research has shown that this would lead to high social inequality and the weakening of democratic governance and citizen ownership to water.

“It is well documented that privatisation of public services increase the utilisation of the middle class and the upper class, while access to the poor and excluded will be decreased.

“It has proven that whenever there is water privatisation, the cost of water services increase because private firms charge full cots and must pay taxes to earn a profit.’’

He called for re-inventing of public water supply backed with adequate budgetary allocation, good plans and policies to promote public-private participation.

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