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WaterAid Urges Service Performance Improvement In WASH Sector

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A frontline international not-for-profit, WaterAid has harped on the need for utilities and service providers in the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector to prioritize performance improvement and gain credibility in order to reassure the investors.

WaterAid noted that scaling up service delivery will go a long way in encouraging prospective investors from both the public and private sector as well as donors to have faith that their investments will yield returns.

Global Water Sector Advisor, WaterAid United Kingdom (UK), Dr. Rob Fuller made the observation while speaking at the 2022 edition of the Lagos International Water Conference (LIWAC), with the theme, “Unlocking Investments and Sustainable Access to Clean Water and Sanitation Services: The Regulatory Imperative”.

LIWAC is organised annually by the Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission (LASWARCO), with the support of WaterAid and other development and private sector partners, to unlock great opportunities for private sector investment to promote access, efficiency, sustainability in water, sanitation and hygiene services.

Dr. Fuller who was Guest Speaker at the two-day event said professionalization of the WASH service delivery sector, especially in urban contexts and megacities like Lagos, is critical to the mission to achieve equitable access to safe water and sanitation.

Lending her voice to Fuller’s assertion, WaterAid Nigeria Country Director, Evelyn Mere underscored the importance of having a strong water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) policy in Lagos State.

Describing policy as a critical strategy in driving investments into the WASH sector in the state, Mere stressed that having a WASH policy will improve investors’ confidence and draw meaningful investment into the sector in Lagos, especially from the private sector.

“Policy is key to attracting meaningful investment into the sector, especially from the private sector. Investors expect certainty, security and clarity of roles and responsibilities and stability of institutions that will guarantee stable operations and return on investment.

“The sector is capital intensive and requires huge funding to operate optimally. Only a policy backed up by clear legislation that protects all players will evoke the confidence necessary for investment to flow into the sector”, she added.

She said WaterAid is currently supporting the review of the WASH Policy in Lagos State and has engaged with the state through the Water Regulatory Commission, over the past two years, providing support for LIWAC, as part of its commitments aimed at achieving sustainable access to WASH services in the state.

Executive Secretary of LASWARCO, Funke Adepoju said Lagos is a significant megacity, with over 24 million people, a projected annual growth rate of 3.2 percent, and according to the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission, the seventh fastest-growing city globally, with the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and internally generated revenue in Nigeria.

“The agenda for a greater Lagos cannot be complete without igniting the water economy”, she further explained.

Also speaking at the event featuring renowned experts in the WASH sector from Nigeria and across the globe, Engr. Benson Ajisegiri, Veteran WASH Sector Reform Specialist, spoke on the WASH crisis in Nigeria, saying most states and agencies are operating with extremely low capacity.
Engr. Ajisegiri observed that Lagos has a huge market for water supply. He however, pointed out that investors need to feel protected by an effective policy because, according to him, policy demonstrates intentionality on the part of the government.

Earlier in his opening remarks the Lagos State Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello said resolution of the multifarious challenges confronting the water and wastewater management sector in Lagos requires a dedicated and thoughtful approach in delivering the ideals of SDG 6 to the citizenry.

On Day 2 of the conference, LASWARCO with support from WaterAid Nigeria and Arctic Infrastructure hosted an Investment Café which presents an opportunity to bring the needs of the WASH sector in Lagos to non-state actors and the private sector for innovative financing and investment opportunities.
Executive Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who graced the Café segment of the event, acknowledged that financing for the water sector has been a challenge for the state.

He said: “According to a 2015 World Bank Survey, bridging the financing gap of Lagos’ WASH sector will require an estimated $1.3 billion investment per year, over the next ten years. Most of the financing for water and sanitation comes from public budget and donor financing, hence this call of action for the private sector to explore the myriad of opportunities in the water sector and sanitation services sub-sector to deliver the value that is required to make the needed commercial gain.

“Investment in water is a pro-poor intervention and it is the way to go. Government needs to do its part, but we all have to meet ourselves midway to make it sustainable”.

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