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Rural-urban migration biggest challenge to effective water supply — NUWSRP

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ABUJA – Mr Benson Ajisegiri, the Project Coordinator, Nigeria Urban Water Sector Reform Program (NUWSRP), says rural-urban migration is the biggest challenge to effective water supply in the country.
Ajisegiri told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja that the country was making steady progress in its bid to provide water for all its citizens.
According to him, all tiers of government must go into partnership to reduce barriers to water supply.
He said that though urban water supply was expensive, continuous efforts were needed to increase access to finance for improving water infrastructure in all parts of the country.
“Urban water supply is very expensive, because it requires you to put in substantial money on infrastructural development.
“This is because you have to build a giant plant, you have to build distribution network which is very expensive to take the water to homes.
“You will see that in recent times, there have been a high rate of urbanisation, high influx of rural-urban migration, and you find out that the infrastructure has been there for many years.
“It is now under this assistance that we are talking of rehabilitating and expanding them.
“But most of these infrastructures have been there for years before I was born and the population by that time was just less than 10, 000,’’ Ajisegiri said.
According to him, the population now is about 100,000 and it is still the same infrastructure in a degraded form.
The project coordinator said that most of the funds got from development partners were invested in expanding distribution network, adding that more was still needed.
“In Port Harcourt alone, we are going to spend more than 300 million dollars (N50.4 billion), so, it so expensive.
“You know what that means, so most of the state governments cannot afford to expand to meet the demand of the people,” he said.
Ajisegiri, also the Head, Public Private Partnership, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, said the NUWSRP was still working on a framework to enhance partnerships at implementing projects at all levels of government.
“Presently, we are being supported by the World Bank and I believe by next year, the framework will be out.
“We have seen models of such frameworks in Kenya, Ethiopia, Brazil and Australia, so, we are trying to see how we can localise,’’ he added.
He said development partners such as the World Bank, African Development Bank, among others bring credit, loans and funds to support governments’ development efforts in the water sector.
Ajisegiri said the loans were taken by the Federal Government and given to states for their development based on selected criteria.
He added that political will for reform and cost recovery capability was paramount.
Ajisegiri said the Federal Government also ensured that loans were spent on agreed activities that would improve water supply to Nigerians, adding that they were almost interest-free and had longer repayment period.
He said no government could recover the cost of improving water supply immediately, hence the need to scale up access to water through concessionary loans.
NAN reports that the NUWSRP is a World Bank assisted project to fulfill the MDGs commitment of reducing the population without access to potable water by 2015 by half. (NAN)

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