The Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC), has said it will strengthen its collaboration with the European Union (EU) through the Niger Delta Support Programme, (NDSP) to resuscitate abandoned water infrastructure across the nine states in the Niger Delta region.
The NDDC Acting Managing Director, Professor Nelson Brambaifa, disclosed this on Wednesday when a delegation from the EU-funded NDSP3 pilot project paid him a courtesy visit at the Commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Brambaifa, who stressed the importance of institutionalising community-based management structure for the maintenance and sustainability of basic infrastructure in the Niger Delta region, also harped on the need to develop a framework to ensure community ownership of water projects in the region.
He commended the EU delegation for collaborating with the NDDC to ensure sustainability of water projects in the Niger Delta region, especially with the realisation that water was one of the basic needs of life.
The NDDC boss said: “We are looking forward to strengthening the collaboration with the EU, because water is life.”
Brambaifa noted 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.
He said: “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 organise 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 vandalised.
“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 Niger Delta.”
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer pledged to take the Niger Delta to the next level in line with the mantra of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led 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.
The 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.
Achten, therefore, enjoined the partners to push for an effective and timely implementation of the EU and NDDC-NDSP3 pilot project.
He stated that in the last two years a synergy had been developed between the EU-funded NDSP and the NDDC, stating that the key part of the synergy was the pilot project for reviving 45 abandoned water schemes in the nine Niger Delta states.
The leader of the EU delegation recalled that the collaboration took off officially in November last year at a two-day Strategic Retreat for the Board and Management of the NDDC in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
He further recalled that on February 2, 2019, the NDDC demonstrated its commitment to the project by writing to the Ministry of Budget and National Planning on the programme.
Achten said: “The project is up and running, as two very important tasks had been completed. However, time was running out since the contract between the EU and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning would end in the next few months.
“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.”