A former Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Mukhtar Shagari, on Tuesday urged African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) and the Federal Government to fast-track efforts to revitalise the Lake Chad Basin.
Shagari, who is also the pioneer President of AMCOW, made the call in Abuja at an event organised to mark the 15th anniversary of the council.
He said that Lake Chad was capable of sustaining the livelihoods of more than 20 million people in the region.
“I am calling on AMCOW to play an important role in ensuring that Lake Chad is resuscitated for the use of the people who depend so much on it for different purposes.
“Doing this will go a long way to help us in securing our country’s resources that have been ravaged by some people who do not believe that we should live and survive,’’ he said.
Shagari said that the primary goal of AMCOW, a regional alliance of ministers of water resources, was to improve the management of trans-boundary water resources by bringing nations together.
He said that the alliance was also aimed at boosting water security and easing regional tensions.
He also listed the emergence of stronger cooperation to deal with the country’s water challenges and systematic dialogue to satisfy the needs of member states as some of the milestones of the alliance.
Earlier, the Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu, praised the member states of AMCOW for the achievements of the body in the past 15 years.
According to him, AMCOW has done a lot to bring together the regional ministers of water for sustainable water resources development, in line with the rationale behind its establishment via the Abuja Declaration of April 30, 2002.
“AMCOW was established, among other things, to strengthen intergovernmental cooperation in order to halt and reverse the water crises and sanitation challenges facing the African continent.
“It is noteworthy that since the birth of AMCOW, the Federal Government of Nigeria, in fulfilment of the promises made at the launch of AMCOW, has been supporting the body to ensure its operational effectiveness.’’
The minister assured AMCOW that the Federal Government would continue to provide support for the body’s efforts to have a permanent secretariat in Abuja.
Adamu said that since its establishment in 2002, AMCOW had been working assiduously with the African Union (AU) and member states in many significant ways.
He said that the body had played global advocacy role in ensuring productive and sustainable water resources management in Africa, while promoting safe sanitation and hygiene intervention on the continent.
On calls for the revitalisation of the Lake Chad, the minister said that the Federal Government had not given up on the issue, adding that processes were underway to resuscitate the lake.
Speaking on the achievements and challenges of AMCOW in the last 15 years, Dr Canisius Kanangire, the Executive Secretary of AMCOW, said that the member states had been able to achieve water and sanitation goals in Africa.
He said that the member states established Africa Groundwater Commission in 2007 to institutionalise groundwater management by river basin agencies.
Kanangire said that this was aimed at ensuring the inclusion of groundwater in water resources assessment and the sustainable management of groundwater resources on the continent.
He, however, noted that paucity of funds had been a major hindrance to the efforts of AMCOW to accomplish some of its set objectives.