Ebola keeps Liberian President away from water conference
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is absent at the 24th World Water Week in Stockholm Sweden.
No thanks to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) ravaging her country.
She is the Grand patron of the Global Water Partnership and was billed to deliver the keynote address.
In a prepared statement, Sirleaf said there was an urgent need to address the issue of water and sanitation, especially in the view of the outbreak of the EVD in West Africa.
According to the World Bank, 2.8 billion people live in areas of high water stress while 2.5 people have unreliable or no access to electricity. By 2035, the World Bank estimates that energy consumption will increase by 35 percent which will also drive up the demand for water by 85 percent, putting pressure in scarce water resources, especially in the developing countries.
Speaking on the sideline of the conference, Minister for Water Resources Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe said Nigeria is blessed with enourmous water resources but that her ministry is still working towards ensuring that 100 per cent of Nigerians have access to potable drinking water at all times.
Mrs Ochekpe: “From our own analysis, about 70 per cent of Nigerians have access to potable water. But our desire is to see that 100 per cent of Nigerians have access to potable water on a 24-hour basis and seven days a week.”
The World Water Week, which started as a research symposium in 1991, draws environmentalists, government officials, intergovernmental agencies, academics, civil society activists and researchers together to fashion a way whereby affordably potable water will be available globally.
Mrs Ochekpe said while Nigeria is building many more dams to generate hydro-power to complement what is derived from thermo and gas energy to boost electricity supply, there is a proportionate use of water for power generation.
She said water and power are interdependent, as water is important in generating power.
“Discussions are on to emphasize the importance between energy and water to show that the two are important in global development. Generally, we need water generate energy and we are working on that,” she said.
She said with the investment, the Federal Government was making on energy generation, Nigerians would soon witness significant growth in the economy.
She added that her ministry was working in collaboration with the ministries of power, agriculture and environment to see how water and energy can be appopriately utilised without hurting the other.
Mrs Ochekpe said despite campaigns in some quarters that African countries should not develop hydro-power technology, Nigeria would continue to pursue it as a solution to the energy crisis.
She said while Nigeria is blessed with enourmous water resources, the key is to effectively manage the use of water both for energy, agriculture and consumption.
“Hydro power is clean and renewable energy. It is less expensive. I don’t think Nigeria will subscribe to that clamour not to do hydro power. We are blessed with a lot of water resources. What will we use the water resources for?”
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