The Nigerian Government has pledged renewed commitment to partner with UNESCO as part of measures to improve livelihoods of inhabitants of the Lake Chad Region.
Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu made the pledge on Wednesday, when he received Dr Hajo Sani, Nigeria’s Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to the UNESCO; in Abuja.
Adamu, while congratulating Sani on her appointment, said Nigeria in partnership with member states, had spearheaded efforts toward finding solutions to continued shrinkage of the Lake Chad Basin.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lake Chad basin is a freshwater source for over 40 million people.
Reduced rainfall between 1960 and 1985 caused the surface area to shrink by more than 90 per cent.
According to the minister, there are massive interventions ongoing in the basin, with the most important one being the inter-basin water transfer from River Congo.
Adamu noted that the partnership with UNESCO had led to successful hosting of the international conference on Lake Chad, saying consensus reached included the hydraulicity of River Chari and Logone.
He added that the Inter-Basin Water Transfer Project, although a long –term one would see ways to end extinction of the lake, saying opening bid for feasibility study for River Chari would soon be open.
The minister listed insecurity and advent of COVID-19 as major challenges, but expressed optimism that with strengthened partnership, the fortunes of the lake would improve.
Responding, Sani commended the minister on activities carried out in the National Water Resources Institute in Kaduna as a UNESCO Category Two regional centre for integrated river basin management.
She listed some issues surrounding member states’ delay in allowing inter-basin water transfer from their rivers.
Sani said the issues were poverty, diseases and natural disaster which greatly affected lives of the people.
Citing COVID-19 as a major challenge delaying the implementation of some projects earmarked by UNESCO, she called for deliberate interventions and commitment from the country.
“We specifically want to remind you about the participation of the ministry which is very key especially in the areas of water, there are some outstanding issues from the last conference that need to be revisited.
“Nigeria, being the giant of Africa cannot just fold her hands waiting. Even at UNESCO, Nigeria is being looked up to in programmes for livelihood support in the region,” Sani said.
She called for establishment of a desk in charge of communication with the National Commission On UNESCO for feedback mechanism and strengthening intergovernmental partnerships.