Amaka Agbu, Port Harcourt
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says that it would strengthen its collaboration with the European Union (EU) through the Niger Delta Support Programme (NDSP) to resuscitate abandoned water infrastructure across the nine Niger Delta states.
NDDC acting Managing Director, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, stated this when a delegation from the EU-funded NDSP3 pilot project paid him a courtesy visit at the commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.
He stressed the importance of institutionalizing community-based management structure for the maintenance and sustainability of basic infrastructure in the Niger Delta region. He also harped on the need to develop a framework to ensure community ownership of water projects in the region.
Prof. Brambaifa commended the EU delegation for collaborating with the NDDC to ensure sustainability of water projects in the Niger Delta region, especially with the realization that water was one of the basic needs of life.
He declared: “We are looking forward to strengthening the collaboration with the EU because water is life,” noting that the ground water in the Niger Delta region was polluted, such that even with the abundance of water in the area, there was hardly enough fit for drinking.
The NDDC acting chief added that “we definitely need sustainable water projects because it is part of our mandate to bring potable water to the inhabitants of the Niger Delta region.
It is one thing to organize a project like this, but it is another to ensure its sustainability. You don’t just start a water project and two months later you come to see that it had been vandalized.
“We are committed to this partnership with the EU to work out modalities to ensure that any water project we commission should be able to stand the test of time.
We must find ways to safeguard our projects because it is one of our core mandates to bring sustainable development to the people of the region.”
The NDDC chief executive pledged to take the Niger Delta region to the next level in line with the mantra of the Buhari administration.
He called on the EU delegation to convince the international body to increase its financial commitment to the water project so as to help the region with safe drinking water that would address the challenges of water-borne diseases in the region.
Responding, Team Leader of the NDSP, Albert Achten, told the NDDC boss that there was need to expedite action on the pilot project because its life span would terminate in May this year.
He therefore, enjoined the partners to push for an effective and timely implementation of the EU and NDDC-NDSP3 pilot project, remarking that in the last two years a synergy had been developed between the EU-funded NDSP and the NDDC.
According to him, the key part of the synergy was the pilot project for reviving 45 abandoned water schemes in the nine Niger Delta states, recalling that the collaboration took off officially in November last year at a two-day strategic retreat for the NDDC board and management in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.
Further to that, he said that on February 2, the NDDC demonstrated its commitment to the project by writing to the ministry of budget and national planning about the programme.
He however, stressed that time was running out since the contract between the EU and the budget ministry would end in the next few months, adding that “we solicit the continued support of the NDDC for the project, especially as it concerns the release of funds.
“The NDSP part of the project is financed by the EU, but the logistics for some of the activities are expected to be taken care of by the NDDC.”