The Niger Basin Authority has pledged to implement an Operational Plan that would preserve the region and enable it meet its full potential.
This was the thrust of the presentation by the Executive Secretary of the Authority, Mrs Toupta Boguena, at the ongoing Extraordinary Session of the Council of Ministers in Abuja on Tuesday.
She listed drought, population increase, as part of the causes of depletion in the river basin, saying efforts are on to preserve the region to enable it meet its full potential.
According to her, the authority is implementing an Operational Plan from the just concluded 11th Summit of the Heads of States and Governments with active participation of the nine member countries.
“For implementation of our operational plan, the authority will provide jobs for youths in the area of agriculture, livestock, fishery and conservation of the basin’s natural resources.
“ In line with the shared vision of the member states, the authority has begun developing an institutional framework for the use of water resources based on the Water Charter.
“This framework, subsequently ratified, contains binding principles, shared strategies and investment plans would provide a solid foundation for the cooperative development of cross-border water resources.’’
This plan, she said, selected 350 investments and capacity building actions to benefit all countries in the region to the tune of 7.2 billion U.S. dollars.
The executive secretary said the execution of these investments would contribute towards improving the living conditions of the populace through an increase in production and access to hydropower.
She also said that it would secure agricultural, pastoral and fishery production and restore lands degraded through erosion.
Boguena emphasised the need for all member countries to strengthen collaboration to promote the vision of the basin.
She decried the rise in insecurity of lives and property, saying that it was a challenge impeding provision of improved living conditions for people living in the region.
Boguena also identified youth unemployment as a factor fuelling insecurity in the region.
President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Mrs Amina Mohammed, the Minister of Environment, said there was need to devise a new sharing formula to enable all member countries fulfill their financial obligations.
He said the Secretariat of the Authority was assessing the challenges and that proposals were currently being examined to enable all member countries to contribute to effective execution of projects in the region.
“The achievement of the investment plan will contribute to improving the living conditions of the basin population, through a significant increase in food security.
“It will also enable interconnections in terms of electricity and facilitate navigation on the river and its tributaries, thus strengthening regional integration.’’
The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, said the meeting was a follow up to the summit of Heads of states to audit the organisational structure to meet future aspirations of the Basin authority.
He said Nigeria was providing up to 30 per cent of the budget, hence the need to review the sharing formula for effective project implementation.
Adamu also said that the authority had put measures on ground for climate resilience action plans to alleviate the effects of climate change along the river basins.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the authorities’ mandate is to facilitate the coordinated and cooperative management of the Niger Basin.
The member states of the river basin organisation are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.