By Gabriel Ewepu
AS Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate 2023 World Rivers Day, the federal government has raised concerns over threat of climate change, indiscriminate pollution of water bodies and other factors.
The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Joseph Utsev, who raised the alarm along with the Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, Bello Goronyo, and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Esther Walson-Jack, pointed out that the 2023 World Rivers Day was a day basically set aside world over to draw attention to the World’s river courses and other waterways.
According to him, this is to highlight the many benefits of rivers, increase public awareness around them and promote improved stewardship of rivers.
He said the annual celebration of the World Rivers Day in Nigeria has contributed to the needed awareness on the importance of healthy waterways, noting that over 1.5 million people had been sensitized in Nigeria since the maiden edition was launched two years ago.
He also said the Federal Ministry of Water Resources has constructed about 260 dams across the country, and impounded nearly 70 billion cubic meters of bulk water in dam reservoirs for multipurpose uses.
He said: “According to the renowned River advocate, founder and chair of the World Rivers Day, Mark Angelo, Rivers in every country face an array of threats, and only our active involvement in promoting healthy practices on our rivers will guarantee their continued existence.
“Therefore, the main focus of commemorating the World Rivers Day is to draw attention to the importance of the world’s waterways or river courses through advocacy and sensitization as well as seek innovative ways of improving the quality and flow of our river waters, maintain healthy environment for aquatic lives and ensure efficient hydrologic connectivity.
“This year’s celebration is the 18th edition with the main theme as: “the incredible natural, cultural and re-creational values of rivers, lakes and streams in our communities” and sub-theme ‘Rights of Rivers’ to give attention to the protection of rivers that are in healthy states while consciously striving to restore those that have been negatively impacted in the past.
Earlier in his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, Esther Walson-Jack, noted that rivers remained integral part of Nigeria’s development.
“Please, permit me to emphasize the need for us as river advocates, to synergize and collectively ramp up effort towards protecting our rivers because it is the major source of fresh water for life sustenance.
“In Nigeria as you know, many Rivers are facing severe and increasing threats associated with climate change, pollution, urbanization, population growth and industrial development.
”These and many more are the reasons we need to scale up our national effort towards river remediation, protection and conservation for the present and future generations,” Walson-Jack said.
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