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Africa: Lack of Water, Sanitation Drain Continent U.S.$28.4 Billion Annually

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BY YEMI AKINSUYI, 6 FEBRUARY 2014

The estimated loss owing to lack of access to safe water and basic sanitation by the African continent is $28.4 billion a year, which is around five per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Referring to the United Nations World Water Development report, the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe regretted that Nigeria has the lion share of this loss and that the continuous delay in the development of the sector would only make the loss larger. The minister stated this in Abuja at the launching of the Water Operators Partnership (WOP) Nigeria.

"I am not unmindful that our water sector is growing despite numerous challenges , but the growth is very slow. The conditions of our water supply infrastructures and distribution networks are deteriorating due to poor management and sometimes neglect.

"The performances of the water agencies are also not as good as customers would want them to be. Cost recovery is still a distant dream for virtually at the agencies. As at today, there is hardly any city in our country where 24/7 water provision can be guaranteed," Ochepe stated.

Represented at the event by the ministry's Permanent Secretary, Baba Umar Farouk, the minister however expressed hope that WOP-Nigeria would greatly contribute to addressing these noticeable sector challenges.

While appreciating all associations that had partnered and packaged funds for the development of the water sector, the minister was hopeful that the launching of the WOP-Nigeria platform would focus on performance appraisal and benchmarking of the water agencies towards improving their efficiencies and effectiveness.

National President, Nigerian Water Supply Association, Dr. Eugene Pam, in his welcome address, appreciated the efforts of international development agencies and programmes in Nigeria's water sector.

He, therefore, called on the participants to deliberate on the matter that would improve the provision of water and sanitation in the continent.