Nigerian Government has called on state water agencies to take ownership and manage all water facilities, to promote sustainability and end loss of investments, especially in rural areas.
Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu made the call at the opening of a one-day Sensitisation Workshop on the implementation of the National Village Level Operation and Maintenance (VLOM) strategy in Abuja on Tuesday.
Adamu was represented by Mr Emmanuel Awe, Director, Water Quality Control and Sanitation in the ministry.
He said poor maintenance of water facilities, weak institutional management and inadequate monitoring, resulted to frequent breakdown and abandonment in the country.
Adamu also said that poor communication between benefiting communities and state water agencies hampered sustainability.
The minister said that the strategy was intended to address the challenges of putting facility ownership in the hands of the communities.
The 2021 Water Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) survey revealed that, only 53 per cent of publicly owned water facilities are functional.
The survey also reports that 22 per cent of the publicly owned water facilities broke down within the first one year of installation.
“The VLOM strategy will establish and create communication channels where benefiting communities can report the status of water facility to those in authority and building the capacity of Local Area Mechanics (LAMs).
“The objective will be achieving 100 per cent functionality in line with the Sustainable Development Goal,“he said.
He said that evidence showed that the operationalisation of National VLOM strategy was one sure way to improve access to water supply in rural areas.
The minister said that the ministry in collaboration with UNICEF, has commenced the operationalisation of VLOM strategy in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
He said successes recorded includes; the repair of 758 hand pump and 344 solar boreholes by local area mechanics in the communities.
Ms. Jane Bevan, UNICEF Chief of WASH, said that the public health benefits of access to potable water could not be quantified.
Bevan said sustainability of water facilities entailed that there were permanent and beneficial change in WASH services.
She said it was worrisome that a quarter of all public water facilities were not functional.
Bevan said through UNICEF interventions, 30 per cent of benefiting communities have put in place tariff system as a funding alternative for local area mechanics repairing broken facilities to the tune of N3 million.
She said the intervention had seen female representation in WASH activities, with women participating in repairs and spare part supplies.
“Our belief is that boreholes should never breakdown, and the sector-wide sustainability index emphasises functionality, accessibility and water quality,” she said.
Engr. Danjuma Madaki, Director, Water Supply with the ministry, said the workshop was an opportunity for states to understand VLOM strategy and its implementation guidelines.
He said all communities must take ownership of all water facilities for sustainability.
Madaki said huge investments in the water resources sector had not yielded returns due to poor institutional management, inadequate funding and lack of political will and ownership.
He, however, said with the implementation of VLOM strategy, operation and maintenance challenges, funding issues would be addressed.