By Cindy Michael
The President, Association of Waterwell Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners (AWDROP), Mr. Michael Ale, has urged the Federal Government and its relevant agencies on the need for a more productive valuing of water for development and the need to attach importance to the use of water for productive ventures, warning that there will be water scarcity in the country before Year 2050.
Mr. Ale, who is a reputable water expert, dropped this warning in a message to commemorate this year’s World Water Day, an annual United Nations(UN) observance day, that highlights the importance of freshwater. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. “The World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the global water crisis, and a core focus of the observance, is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Water and Sanitation for All by 2030,” he added.
A Water Entrepreneur and Development Strategist, Mr. Ale, took a swipe at the poor valuing and under-utilization of water resources for development purposes in Nigeria and highlighted five significant strategies towards valuing water i.e. ” 1. Valuing water sources – natural water resources and ecosystems. All water is generated by ecosystems. And all the water we abstract for human use eventually returns to the environment, along with any contaminants we have added. The water cycle is our most important ‘ecosystem service’. Higher value must be given to protecting the environment to ensure a good quality water supply and build resilience to shocks such as flood and drought. 2. Valuing water infrastructure – storage, treatment and supply. Water infrastructure stores and moves water to where it is most needed, and helps clean and return it to nature after human use. Where this infrastructure is inadequate, socio-economic development is undermined and ecosystems endangered. Typical valuations of water infrastructure tend to underestimate or not include costs, particularly social and environmental costs. It is difficult to recover all costs from tariffs (known as full cost recovery). In many countries, only part or all of the operational costs are recovered, and capital investments are covered by public funds. 3. Valuing water services – drinking water, sanitation and health services. The role of water in households, schools, workplaces and health care facilities is critical.
According to him, “WASH – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene – services also adds value in the form of greater health, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. WASH services are often subsidized, even in high income countries. However, untargeted subsidies can benefit people with existing water connections, rather than improving the situation for poor and underserved communities. 4. Valuing water as an input to production and socio-economic activity – food and agriculture, energy and industry, business and employment. Agriculture places the biggest demand on global freshwater resources and is a major contributor to environmental degradation. Despite being fundamental to food security, water in food production is generally given a low value when assessed purely through the economic lens of value produced in relation to water used. Many of the wider benefits – improving nutrition, generating income, adapting to climate change and reducing migration – are often not reflected in the cost of water,” adding that “For the Energy, Industry and Business (EIB) sector, water-related threats such as water scarcity, flooding and climate change can push up costs and disrupt supply chains. Corporate mismanagement of water can damage ecosystems and harm reputations and affect sales.”
Mr. Ale, who is the Chief Executive Officer, Male Integrated Science Nigeria Limited, contended that “Traditionally, the EIB sector has valued water by the volume used, plus the costs of wastewater treatment and disposal. More organizations are adopting Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) planning approaches as they improve their sustainability. 5. Valuing socio-cultural aspects of water – recreational, cultural and spiritual attributes. Water can connect us with notions of creation, religion and community,” urging relevant government agencies such as the Ministry’s of Rural Development, Science and Technology and others to redirect the current operational policies to reflect the five critical productive valuing of water resources.
Executive Director, Independent Project Management Group (IPMG), Mr. Ale, also underscores other developmental uses of water, certain challenges with the resources, as well as ways the resources should be better developed, saying: “Economic development and a growing global population means agriculture and industry are getting thirstier and water-intensive energy generation is rising to meet demand. Climate change is making water more erratic and contributing to pollution. As societies balance the demands on water resources, many people’s interests are not being taken into account. How we value water determines how water is managed and shared. The value of water is about much more than its price – water has enormous and complex value for our households, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment,” warning that “If we overlook any of these values, we risk mismanaging this finite, irreplaceable resource.”
“Water in natural spaces can help us feel at peace. Water is an intrinsic part of every culture but the values we attribute to these functions are difficult to quantify or articulate. Economists often consider water to be a resource for practical human usage and pay little or no attention to its socio-cultural, or environmental, value. There is a need to fully understand cultural values around water by involving a more diverse group of stakeholders in water resources management.”, he noted.