The Lagos State Government is set to commission a Testing and Reference Laboratory that would aid the prevention of an outbreak of waterborne diseases.
The State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, disclosed this today while speaking at the opening of the Y2021 Lagos International Water Conference held at Eko Hotels, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu, represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, stated that the laboratory will be commissioned in a couple of weeks, adding that the facility will make Lagos the first African Megacity to adopt leading technologies in the community-based off-grid water supply.
He explained that, through the Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission (LASWARCO), the State government had been able to curb unwholesome water production and indiscriminate drilling of boreholes, which is a major contributor to the lower aquifer, flooding, saltwater intrusion and pollution from other sources.
The Governor emphasised that access to clean water is extremely essential, which to a large extent determines how well people flourish even when other basic rights are in place, stressing that LASWARCO produces 210 Million Gallons per Day (MGD) against the daily water demand estimate of 540 MGD according to the State Water Supply Master Plan.
He stated that government is not oblivious of the gap and its consequences on the health of the populace, maintaining that his administration remains dedicated to its goal of becoming a global point of reference in the provision of sustainable, safe water and sanitation for its increasing population.
Sanwo-Olu further stated that in furtherance of its commitment to affordable and sustainable clean water supply, his government has signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding with WaterAid, an International Non-governmental Organisation, on capacity building for approved regulation and expansion of clean water access.
Commenting on the theme of the conference, “Water Security and Investment Opportunities in Megacities: A case of Lagos State”, Sanwo-Olu said, “it speaks to the huge gap between daily water demand and supply in the State, how we can achieve water security and also harness the investment opportunities in the water sector”.
He added that the conference will transform lives, impact the economics of water management, regulation and help to chart a new trajectory for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) initiatives as well as environment sustainability in Lagos State.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, noted that this year’s Conference was intentionally organised to focus on solutions and results capable of unbundling the obstacles to financial viability and access to clean water and sanitation through experimental knowledge.
He said “water, no doubt, is indispensable to human existence; its security and access to inhabitants of a State like Lagos, with a surging population of over 24 million people and projected annual growth rate of 3.2 per cent, is of critical concern and surely demands attention which the present administration of Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu is poised to resolve for the benefit of Lagosians”.
The Executive Secretary of LASWARCO, Mrs. Funke Adepoju, said the conference was aimed at deepening conversations around expanding access to water and investment opportunities, adding that recommendations at the end of the conference would be very useful going forward.
In her goodwill message, the Country Director, WaterAid Nigeria, Evelyn Mere stated that access to sustainable and equitable safe drinking water remains a challenge in Nigeria, with over 60 million people in the country lacking access to basic water supply. She stated that the changing climate is making life harder for the poorest people in Nigeria, who are already struggling to get clean water.
Mere disclosed that for Lagos to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets on universal access to water, an annual sector spending of N300 billion would have to be committed, while Nigeria would have to spend $2.1bn annually on capital, operations and maintenance to meet SDG 6.
She reiterated that with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging across the world, the need for quality water, sanitation and hygiene services has never been more important.