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"Nigeria needs N215b annually to develop water infrastructure"

Ajisegiri warned that the water sector would not move forward if there were no cooperation between the three tiers of government.

For Nigeria to meet its Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) by 2015, the country needs approximately N215 billion annually for development of water infrastructure, National Project Coordinator of the World Bank-Assisted National Urban Water Sector Reform Project, Mr Benson Ajisegiri, said on Sunday in Abuja.

"To put appropriate infrastructure in place to be able to meet the MDGs target for water supply, about N215 billion is to be invested annually." He said.

Nigeria, he noted, is currently investing not more than N82.5 billion into the sector, which is less than a quarter of the expected investment in water annually from the tree tiers of government.

According to him, the investment figure is from the Country Status Overview (CSO).

The Federal Ministry of Water Resources had developed an investment guideline to mobilise fund to fill the gap, said Ajisegiri, who also is an official of the Department of Water Supply.

The Water Investment Mobilisation and Application Guidelines (WIMAG) developed were to help mobilise funds for the development of infrastructure in the sector, he said.

"What we are trying to do is to use it as a central mechanism for mobilizing funds from the three tiers of government as well as the private sector and external support agencies so that we can have a pool of funds that we can use to finance the investment that is available in the water sector," Ajisegiri said.

"It is nothing other than to just have an instrument that will enable us to apply funds appropriately and that will enhance the implementation of the sector reform." He added.

Ajisegiri was optimistic that the Federal Government would meet the funding gap in the sector if the WIMAG is implemented.

He however warned that the sector would not move forward if there were no cooperation between the three tiers of government.

According to him, the guidelines would help check the problems that arise from the common incidence of duplication of efforts among government agencies and organisations in the sector.

"And sometimes, when the donor agencies are bringing fund, we discover that we don’t have investment plan, but with the guideline we are going to have investment plan that will involve the communities. The guideline will help communities to determine what they need because it will be captured at the state level, so every state will have an investment plan that will be submitted to the federal government." Ajisegiri said.

"And from there, you will know the areas in which you needed to apply for funds. The same manner, both at the federal, state and local government levels will cooperate to finance and develop infrastructure in the communities," he added.

He revealed that the document in question was developed in 2005, but had suffered setbacks in the implementation because of instability in the ministry.

With the creation of the Ministry of Water Resources, the document will be finalised and put it into operation by taking it to the highest authority for approval, he said.