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NGO WANTS AGRIC MINISTER TO FOCUS ON RURAL WATER SUPPLY

By NBF NEWS
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A non-governmental organisation, Women Environmental Programme, has urged the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources to give proper attention to the provision of water supply especially for rural dwellers.

WEP's Executive Director, Mrs. Priscilla Achakpa, made the call while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.

Ackakpa said, 'In the past, most of the ministers had not really cared about the issue of water; the concentration had always been on the issue of agriculture.

'We urge the new minister to give prominence to water and sanitation especially in the area of affordable water because we are tired of drinking pure water that is not healthy.

'We don't want privatisation of water. How many people can afford water? But we need to see how we will be able to make provision for water points for rural communities.'

She said the provision of water was important in the achievement of the sanitation target, adding: 'sanitation is dignity.'

The executive director noted that the water, sanitation and hygiene campaign in the rural areas would not be meaningful without adequate water supply.

'When we talk to rural dwellers about WASH campaign, they look at us and wonder, what are these ones saying? This is because in the first place, they don't have access to water.

'Here, you are talking to them to wash their hands with soap or wash after performing critical tasks; they will look at you as if you are crazy,'' she said.

Achakpa expressed regret that the provision of water supply had not been given adequate attention in the urban areas as well.

She said, 'I live in Gaduwa Estate in Abuja, an estate that was built by the Federal Government and yet we depend on boreholes to meet our water needs.''

According to her, privatisation of water is not helping people to meet their water needs as most Nigerians cannot afford to drill borehole, buy bottled water or even pay for water service.

She underscored that importance of water to development and said it should top the agenda of the new minister.

Achakpa further said that the water sector should be de-merged from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources for it to receive utmost attention.

'We cannot do without water. Water is life and therefore merging water resources with agriculture to me is not right.

'And if they must be together, equal attention should be given to both water and agriculture sectors without abandoning one sector,'' she said.