Tag Archives: National Water Resources Bill

Governments’ water supply policy should be geared to correcting their bad deeds instead of criminalizing citizens efforts towards improving access.

The Minister also wondered aloud whether there would be groundwater left for future generations considering the present rate of groundwater abstraction! This is a troubling statement coming from a country’s Minister of Water Resources because groundwater development at the current rate cannot completely empty the aquifers in Nigeria as the country is not in a climatic zone (arid) where there will always be recharge to the aquifers either in the Sahel or the humid regions of Nigeria. 

At the just concluded 53rd Annual International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Society for Mining and Geosciences at Abuja, the Minister of Water Resources bemoans the ubiquitous drilling of boreholes by individuals in Nigeria even within the distance of a few meters as small three meters. This kind of observation is common among government officials, both permanent and transient who are always ready to focus on the symptoms of a phenomenon rather than the cause, and are usually ready to pass the buck to the average Nigerian.

Individuals do not need to engage in drilling boreholes except in isolated and rural areas in countries where governments and/or corporations accredited for water provision meet their service-to-the-people responsibilities. Drilling within short distances of each other, therefore, would never arise if the government does its part concerning provision of potable water for its citizens?

It is common knowledge that each family in Nigeria is a ‘micro government’ because it has to generate its own energy, provide its own water as well as organize its own garbage disposal and its own security (neighborhood vigilante), etc.

Government and its officials should stop finger-pointing at what it considers an over-reach by its citizens who are merely doing all they can for survival in the face of failure of government to provide good governance – a major part of it is service to the people – at every level.

Nigerians are all witnesses to the situation at Abuja, Lagos and other big urban centers where every flat in multi-storey buildings has its own electric generator resulting in a cacophony of noise pollution which any visitor from another country cannot miss, and the air pollution is immense.

Should the government crack down on these unintended polluters as is the case in some urban centers go unchallenged? In the same vein, the Minister of Water Resources should not attempt to blame and criminalize the attempts of families that are just trying to provide water for everyday use by drilling domestic water supply boreholes.

This blog has cried out about the adverse impact of corruption on the provision of potable water supply in Nigeria.

There have been reported cases of advance procurement for several years of some water treatment chemicals by politically-appointed Water Board members. Transparency International reported that billions of Naira tha would have been used to improve access to potable water have been corruptly embezzled since independence.

Here is a quotation from this blog: (https://weircentreforafrica.com/2011/08/31/corruption-in-the-water-sector-makes-access-to-potable-water-and-sanitation-a-moving-target-in-nigeria-2/ ):

Luke Onyekakeyah’s article on  Corruption in the water sector some years ago noted  that “conservatively not less than $1 trillion dollars have been pumped into the public water sector since the past 46 years of independence. This figure excludes private expenditures in the water sector. Nigeria being a corruption-ridden nation, over 60 per cent of this amount was corruptly embezzled.”

While the source of Onyekakeyah’s data for this article published in The Guardian [a Nigerian newspaper], a couple of years ago is unknown and while the figure may seem outrageous, goings-on in the water and sanitation sector in the country would tend to buttress the claim about the adverse impact of corruption on low figure on access to potable water.  Sixty percent of a trillion dollars of those years should be adequate – then and now – to significantly change the current statistics on access to potable water and good sanitation in Nigeria”.

It is common knowledge that most water corporations in the country only supply water to Government Housing Estates or GRAs and that less than 10 percent of the population of any urban area gets its water from water corporations. I have noticed while staying at a hotel in a high-income area of Abuja, the country’s capital that the ‘mairuwa’(cart-puller water vendors) sell water in jerrycans to households. If this could happen in that kind of area in the country’s capita, it is easy to imagine what people in less-privileged areas of the country.

The Minister also wondered aloud whether there would be groundwater left for future generations considering the present rate of groundwater abstraction! This is a troubling statement coming from a country’s Minister of Water Resources because groundwater development at the current rate cannot completely empty the aquifers in Nigeria as the country is not in a climatic zone (arid) where there will always be recharge to the aquifers either in the Sahel or the humid regions of Nigeria. 

Even in the Sahel part of the country, there is appreciable rainfall during the wet seasons although in the Sahel, there is the need to manage groundwater abstraction so that future cost of abstraction will not be prohibitively high.

The Minister’s point on the need to carry out modeling of our ground water is in the right direction. There is a need to model the country’s surface water resources which is impossible to achieve without having good long-term data. The Government needs to invest in collection of good quality data in the management of its surface and groundwater resources. It is important to know how much government devotes to this important area of water resources management.

Government at state and local government levels should invest more in the provision of potable water instead of seeking to tax or criminalize the efforts of citizens who are actually assisting governments in what is an essential part of their functions of service to the people.

Finally, to avoid the kind of embarrassing technical mistake by the minister, it would be necessary for government officials to be properly briefed whenever they need to make public pronouncements at professional or technical gatherings.

DEPO ADENLE

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, on Wednesday (March 29, 2017) expressed worry over the increasing rate of indiscriminate drilling of boreholes by quacks in the country.

Borehole 2017

Mr. Adamu said this at the 53rd Annual International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Society for Mining and Geosciences in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the conference is entitled: “The Extractive Industry: imperatives for Wealth Creation and Employment Generation”.

He called on the members to show enough concern, just as he said the society had a lot to do in the water resources sector.

Mr. Adamu said it was time Nigeria sought ways to protect its surface and underground water resources effectively.

“It is getting out of hand. You find a situation whereby within three meters, households are drilling boreholes; people are not mindful of the interference.

“We are spending too much money, whereas, we can have maybe a single unit to serve people. I think it’s time we look at these issues.

“I think it is very important we do not exploit our ground water resources to a point where there will be nothing left for the future generation of this country,” he said.

The minister said the National Water Resources bill, approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), would soon be forwarded to the National Assembly.

According to him, the bill consists of a modelling regulation to monitor exploitation of ground water resources.

He said that the bill when passed, would ensure the setting up of a hydro-drilling industry in the country.

He said the lack of proper regulation in drilling activities had made it an all comers industry, thereby undermining activities of members of the society.

However, Olugbenga Okunlola, President, Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, sought for a collective integration and corporation among governments, industry, academia and technical partners to support geosciences data collection.

This, Mr. Okunlola said, would help in the provision of pre-completion geosciences information to mining companies to support economically viable extraction processes.

He commended the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari on his emphasis on economic recovery and diversification in the solid mineral sector.

“This has been practically translated into viable increased funding for the major government institutions,” he said.

Premium Times, (NAN), March 29, 2017.

Advertisements

Indian Farmers, Coca-Cola vie for Scarce Water supply – Is the Same thing happening in Nigeria?

I was reading the in-flight magazine of Delta Air Line (SKY) early this month and found Beyond Bottling in a section titled “Green Watch”.  It contains some statistical information on what the Coca-Cola Company is doing in its Water Stewardship programs in Third World  countries such as promoting conservation and access to safe drinking water and sanitation. The list of the good deeds of Coca-Cola  also includes an investment of $247 million over 5 years in more than 380 water-stewardship programs which range from watershed restoration programs to those that increase access to safe water and improve health and hygiene around the world. It has been working with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for about seven years to launch the Water and Development alliance (WADA) to address community water needs in developing countries, etc.

About the same period when I came across information on the PBS News Hour information on the activities of Coca-Cola in India, I found it difficult to reconcile the two conflicting ideas that both information present.

I find the Draft accompanying Regulations to Nigeria’s Decree 101 of 1993 that proposed pittance in terms of fees for groundwater abstraction for commercial use troubling in this regard because huge corporations seem to get away with using scarce resources without having to pay commensurate fees with respeect to the magnitude of the extracted resource.

The new draft bill on water has not been passed and its content with respect to abstraction fees need to be fully discussed to ensure that appropriate charges are paid by commercial users.

Today, Coca-Cola is, perhaps, the leading producer of bottled water in Nigeria. It would be interesting to know how much of the water used by the company comes from surface water and how much comes from groundwater where this water is being abstracted  and how much it pays for this water compared to how much it makes.

It is a well-known fact that Coca-Cola uses surface water in some of its factories, e.g. Oyo State at Asejire Dam. However, does it use groundwater in the arid north as well as in Lagos? A final question:  Has any assessment on Coca-Cola’s water use in its factories across Nigeria been done?

These are legitimate concerns since Coca-Cola, a multi-billion dollar giant is trying to present the face of a responsible corporate entity that is a do-gooder!

 And, while $247 million is a lot of money, it is not much of community giving-back by a company that must rake in multiples of that in profit from a country like Nigeria, and by the way, how much of that amount does Nigeria get of the hand-out?

DEPO ADENLE

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

PBS NEWSHOUR

 REPORT    AIR DATE: Nov. 17, 2008

Indian Farmers, Coca-Cola Vie for Scarce Water Supply

SUMMARY

In the Indian state of Rajasthsan, farmers have accused Coca-Cola factories of drawing too heavily on the area’s water supplies and contributing to pollution. Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the controversy and the claims of both the company and its critics.

Transcript

GWEN IFILL: Next, the battle between Coca-Cola and farmers over the shrinking supply of available water in India. NewsHour special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro has our report from the state of Rajasthan.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO, NewsHour Correspondent: This is one of 49 factories that make Coca-Cola drinks across India. The company has invested over $1 billion dollars building a market for its products in this country, but Coca-Cola’s welcome has been less than effervescent, particularly around this factory in Kala Dera, in the arid and recently drought-stricken state of Rajasthan.

The plant used about 900,000 liters of water last year, about a third of it for the soft drinks, the rest to clean bottles and machinery. It is drawn from wells at the plant but also from aquifers Coca-Cola shares with neighboring farmers. The water is virtually free to all users.

These farmers say their problems began after the Coca-Cola factory arrived in 1999.

RAMESHWAR PRASAD, Farmer (through translator): Before, the water level was descending by about one foot per year. Now it’s 10 feet every year. We have a 3.5-horsepower motor. We cannot cope. They have a 50-horsepower pump.

RAM SAPAT, Farmer (through translator): Every day, a thousand vehicles come out of that factory taking away our water. What is left for our kids?

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: To irrigate their fields of barley, millet and peanuts, these growers complain they must now drill deeper and use heftier pumps to water their fields.

MANGAL CHAND YADAV, Farmer (through translator): I’ve had to drill three times. It’s down to 260 feet. Five years ago, it was 180 feet.

HARI MICHAN YOGI, Farmer (through translator): It’s because everyone has a submersible pump now, the Coca-Cola factory. There’s not enough rain. These are the reasons.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Their cause was picked up by activists, like Rajendra Singh. He has worked across the region helping villagers conserve and collect rainwater through traditional methods.

RAJENDRA SINGH, Water Activist (through translator): Exploitation, pollution, encroachment, Coca-Cola is doing all three. That’s why I say that no company has the right to steal the common water resource. No company has the right to pollute water that is our life. No company has the right to encroach on our land that is our livelihood. Coca-Cola is doing all three.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The farmers also got the attention of international activists, according to Siddharth Varadarajan, an editor with the newspaper The Hindu.

SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN, Newspaper Editor: Activist groups have been quite effective and have managed to tap into anti-globalization and environmental and green groups across the world and have, you know, therefore, I think, managed to put Coke on the defensive internationally, to a much greater extent than has happened within India.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In 2005, when the University of Michigan banned Coke products, the company responded, and the ban was then lifted.

Coca-Cola agreed to an independent third-party assessment of some of its operations in India. That report determined that this plant in Rajasthan is contributing to a worsening water situation. It recommended that the company bring water in from outside the area or shut the factory down. Coca-Cola rejected that recommendation.

Already in 2004, Coca-Cola shut down one factory in south India amid a similar controversy. Its response now doesn’t surprise Varadarajan.

SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN: Clearly, if Coke were to give in one factory, as other communities essentially look at the experience of Rajasthan, it’s quite likely that there would be a cascading effect. So I suspect Coke will dig its heels in.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For his part, Coca-Cola’s India head, Atul Singh, says it would be irresponsible to leave.

ATUL SINGH, President, Coca-Cola India: You know, walking away is the easiest thing we can do. That’s not going to help that community build sustainability.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: So Coca-Cola, while insisting its impact on the water supply was minimal, said it would stay and help.

The company has agreed to subsidize one-third of the cost of water-efficient drip irrigation systems for 15 neighboring farmers. The government pays most of the rest; growers themselves must chip in 10 percent.

Coca-Cola has also set up concrete collection systems for rainwater. Typically about 70 percent of rainfall evaporates before it can seep into the ground. Water collected from rooftops is piped into shafts up to 150 feet deep. Despite drought conditions, the system has been a success, according to company spokesman Kalyan Ranjan.

KALYAN RANJAN, Coca-Cola Spokesman: We have still managed to recharge banks than what we withdraw, so what we see ourselves is we are part of a problem-solving mechanism rather than a problem in ourselves.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Are you saying you’re putting back more water than you’re taking?

KALYAN RANJAN: In Kala Dera, yes. In Kala Dera, yes.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The scientist who conducted the independent study of Coca-Cola’s operations is not ready to accept that claim. Dr. Leena Srivastava is with the Delhi-based Energy and Resources Institute.

LEENA SRIVASTAVA, Scientist: We haven’t been able to prove that. And it’s too short a timeframe to start talking about whether groundwater aquifers have been recharged in six months. I think we really have to wait and watch and see what the impact is.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And farmers and activists, like Rajendra Singh, remain skeptical.

RAJENDRA SINGH (through translator): They have an arrogance that says, “We have money; we can buy what we want.”

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They also are critical of the government locally for attracting Coca-Cola to a water-scarce region and nationally for ignoring water policy in a rush to attract industry and foreign investment. Editor Varadarajan says they have a point.

SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN: India has a completely irrational groundwater management policy, where, if you have the means and the resources, you can extract as much groundwater as you like and you can use this water which you essentially pump up for free — it’s unmetered — to manufacture products which you can sell for a high price, whether it’s bottled water, whether it’s a beverage, whether it’s industry.

And, you know, this is something which the Indian policymakers have simply not bothered to formulate a cohesive strategy to deal with.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: At stake is the nation’s food supply, says scientist Leena Srivastava.

LEENA SRIVASTAVA: We are heading very rapidly towards the situation of absolute scarcity. Without even adding on the problems that might come up because of climate change issues, we just don’t have enough. And food security in the future can become a major problem for the country.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Food security?

LEENA SRIVASTAVA: Food security, yes.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Based on the water scarcity?

LEENA SRIVASTAVA: Based on water scarcity.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In June, India’s prime minister proposed a series of measures to address broader climate change issues, including water. As for Coca-Cola, CEO Singh says, by the end of 2009, the company will become, quote, “water-neutral,” returning at least as much groundwater as it withdraws in India overall, though not necessarily at individual plants like Kala Dera.

He says it’s part of an emerging sense of corporate social responsibility.

ATUL SINGH: You know, I think the world has changed. If you’d asked me this question 10, 15, 20 years ago, I would give you a different answer.

Today, what I have seen — and this is globally, as well as in India — corporates have moved from philanthropy — you know, cutting a check for the art, you know, some art museum or some religious temple or, you know, helping a particular foundation — into real sustainability.

Are we building sustainable communities? And if we are not, consumers will choose products and services from companies who do behave in that manner.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He says Coca-Cola plans to invest several hundred million more dollars in the years ahead in what may soon become its largest market.