Reporter CHRISTIAN NWANGENE
The Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Suleiman Hussein Adamu, has called on key players in the water sector to take steps to prevent vandalism of hydrological equipment/stations across the country to mitigate flooding and other natural disasters.
The Minister made the call in a message at the National Sensitization workshop on Security and Prevention of vandalism of Hydrological Equipment/Stations, held in Enugu, southeast Nigeria.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Dr. Didi Esther Walson-jack, the Minister said that for the nation to have reliable data for early prediction of flood incidents and other natural disasters, it was pertinent that stakeholders took the responsibility to protect and guard hydrological equipment installed in their domains against vandalism.
”The role of hydrological data input to other sectors of the economy is crucial, including its contribution to research, infrastructure development, productivity and food security. Recognising this, the ministry has over the years reiterated the positive correlation between availability of reliable data and successful planning and implementation of water resources projects.
“Despite this obvious advantage, there is growing evidence that hydrological networks are in decline due to vandalism. Therefore, preventing the vandalism of these equipment will contribute to the effort of mitigating flood disasters and provision of necessary data for integrated water resources management.
“It is also promote and facilitate free and open exchange of hydrological data and its services and products to support public Programmes. Hence, there is need for concerted efforts by the key players in the water sector to join hands to reduce the incidence of vandalism of these equipment,” he stated.
In a presentation, the Director General, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), Mr. Clement Onyeaso Nze, said hydrological stations established across major rivers in the country helped in the collection of data that were necessary for water sources infrastructure.
According to the NIHSA DG, it is counter productive for the government to spend billions of naira in the installation of the equipment, they get vandalised.
”Permit me to State that the need to protect and secure our hydrological stations cannot be over-emphazied. The professionals in the water sector are well familiar with the fact that no meaningful and sustainable water projects can be achieved without accurate and reliable historical hydrological data. The Agency has been striving to expand the network of its hydrometric stations to meet the recommended density for Nigeria by the World Meteorological Organization, WMO, but has been limited by funding,” the NIHSA DG noted.
In a goodwill message, the Enugu State Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, represented by his Special Adviser on Water Resources, Mr. Dubem Onyia, Jr. said the State government was ready to collaborate with the agency to build a sustainable environment.
He noted that hydrological data was key to providing early warning signals to check environmental disasters.
“Enugu State has not been very lucky with floods this year, as there have been incidences of flood in Igbo-etiti, Uzo-Uwani, Enugu East, Isi-uzo, Aninri, Ezeagu, Nkanu East and Nkanu West Local Government Areas.
“Therefore, the State is open to partnerships with the Agency not just in protecting these equipment, wherever that are located in the State, but also to provide more of such locations across the State as likelihood of occurrence of flooding in the State is now very high.
“There must be co-operation and synergy between the Communities where these equipment/stations are located and the local, State and Federal authorities to guarantee their safety,” he remarked.
In a message to the occasion, the Director General, National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA), Retired Air Vice Marshall, Mohammadu Mohammadu, commended the contributions of the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency towards addressing water related issues in the country, especially the publication of its Annual Flood Outlook (AFO), which had provided his Agency with a working tool to manage flood related emergencies in the face of climate change in Nigeria.
“Our ability to predict flooding, plan for drought and support healthy ecosystems depends on the continuous improvement in our measurement of hydrological elements that help us protect our water resource system.
“In fact, it is difficult to overstate the importance of the availability, reliability and accuracy of data from water without monitoring that equipment. Automated notification provides timely warning about hydrological events and alerts hydrographers to any faults or station health indicators that require immediate attention.”
There were goodwill messages from, governments of Ebonyi, and Anambra States, traditional rulers, security agencies, as well as, Anambra Basin Authority, NEWMAP and other critical stakeholders in water resources management.