The Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation has joined the global community in celebrating World Rivers Day 2023. This important occasion highlights the crucial role of rivers and waterways, emphasizes their significance, advocates for their protection, and promotes sustainable development.
Speaking at the event in Abuja on Monday, 25th Sept 2023, the Honourable Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Engr. Prof. Joseph Terlumun Utsev, FNSE, FNICE, FNIWE, explained that in Nigeria, World Rivers Day, traditionally celebrated on 24th September worldwide, was moved to Monday, 25th September to align with the workweek in Nigeria.
He noted that this year’s celebration which is the 18th edition of World Rivers Day, carries the theme ” the incredible natural, cultural, and recreational values of rivers, lakes, and streams in our communities,” with a sub-theme “Rights of Rivers.”
According to him,these themes emphasize the need to protect healthy rivers and restore those damaged by pollution, urbanization, climate change, and other human activities.
Prof. Utsev stressed that in Nigeria, the celebration reinforces the commitment to treating Rivers and lakes as “living entities entitled to fundamental rights, legal guardianship, and personhood,” aligning with the “Universal Declaration of River Rights”, adding that this commitment aims to ensure the protection, restoration, and sustainable management of all vital Water Resources.
He elaborated on the pivotal role of rivers in Nigeria’s socio-economic life in providing water, nutrients, drainage, transportation routes, energy sources, fertile soil for agriculture, and supporting the water cycle and aquatic habitats respectively.
The Minister also highlighted the Ministry’s dedication to promoting Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) principles and practices for sustainable Water Resources Management, to address the challenges relating to climate change, water pollution, and access to clean water.
Prof Utsev pointed out that the Ministry has constructed approximately 260 dams across Nigeria, impounded nearly 70 billion cubic meters of water for various purposes, including water supply, sanitation, irrigation, and hydropower generation.
He further informed that the recent re-designation of the Ministry as the “Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation” and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s declaration of a state of emergency on food security underscore the government’s commitment to address food security, environmental protection, improved access to safe water and sanitation, tackling rising food prices, and harnessing the potential of the agriculture value chain.
He disclosed that the Ministry will continue to promote Integrated Agricultural Systems, such as the Songhai Integrated Farming Model, which is eco-friendly and supports cleaner energy options, including solar.
The Honourable Minister also maintained that highlights of the 2023 World Rivers Day event across the country include; Advocacy visit by “Friends of the River” to selected River Sites for Community River-Side celebration across the country by the River Basin Development Authorities; Memorial Tree Planting to mark the celebration by the 12 RBDAs ;Symbolic River Cleaning exercise in different parts of the country; Symposium; Road Show and Media sensitization among others.
In her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Didi Walson-Jack, OON,mni, stressed the need for River Advocates to synergize and collectively ramp up efforts towards protecting our rivers while also taking into cognizance that they are major sources of fresh water for life sustenance.
She called for National efforts towards River remediation, protection and conservation for the present and future generations.
Good will messages were presented by the Representative of the Director General NISHA, Mr Stephen Jabo, and the Representative of of Executive Director, NIWRMC, Engr Victor Ojiako.
The Abuja celebration concluded with a symbolic tree planting ceremony and the cleaning of the Jabi Lake bank, led by the Honourable Minister, Prof. Joseph Terlumun Utsev, the Honourable Minister of State, Bello Muhammad Goronyo, Esq, and the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Didi Walson-Jack, OON, mni.
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Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation