Lack of access to portable water fueling insecurity – Global Rights

Lack of access to portable water fueling insecurity – Global Rights
November 22 19:09 2018

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by Benjamin Orisemeke

The Executive Director, Rights Nigeria, Ms. Abiodun Baiyewu, has insisted that the greatest threat to Nigeria’s national security is access to clean potable water.

According to her, the situation is responsible for the increasing cases of herders and pastoralists clashes across the country.

Baiyewu, who said this at the stakeholders’ engagement on contextualizing Nigeria’s water resource management in mining and energy policies on Thursday in Abuja, added that “already the South-South contends with pollution of the Creeks and its rivers which has resulted in the loss of livelihoods for millions of Nigerians and is largely responsible for the security challenges encountered in that region.

“The Boko Haram crisis, the Herdsmen-pastoralist communities’ crises, the Kaduna crisis, and even the Zamfara massacres are all linked to Nigeria’s emerging water crisis.

“From all indications, this threat is already tearing at the very fabric of our nationhood with the many conflicts it is facilitating. While we ascribe religious and ethnic colorations to them, we must all admit that an underlaying currency in their fueling is access to water resources,” she added.

Citing Plateau state as a case in point, Baiyewu noted the water crisis might get worse as the government’s focuses on attracting more investment into the mining sector.

“First of all, mining is a water intensive activity that requires access to a lot of water. The water needs of mining companies and artisanal miners will always challenge the conflicting needs for potable water of their host communities.

“Naturally, I had to visit Jos. It was in the course of that visit that we realized that deeper than the ethic sentiments and religious coloration, was the dynamic of pastoralist communities, agrarian communities and miners and their contention for natural resources – especially water and arable land,” she explained.

Fielding questions from journalists, Presidential candidate and human Rights activist, Jaye Gaskia, said there is need for the government to focus its water policy in a way it will generate revenue for the country.

“Under the mining laws, the only reference made is to the water administrative which is revenue generation. That is to say if you are going to establish a mine you are going to use water (you will need to get water use permit) which is a way of generating revenue but in this case, it says absolutely nothing.

“Then how does Nigeria compete with other host countries and how will the water be replenished if it is not given the proper attention? It is silent on water resource management and silent on avoiding crisis as well. For me it is a very big gap.”

He further urged the federal government to focus it policy more on “water conservation and efficient use of it so as to get a solution to the situation at hand.”