A team of experts from the European Union (EU) has urged the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to step up collaborative efforts with the EU towards providing potable water for people in the region.
The EU team made the call during a courtesy visit to Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, the Minister, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, in Abuja.
The Leader of the EU team, Mr Alobert Achten, said that the initiative, under the aegis of the Niger Delta Support Programme (NDSP), had been on for sometime but needed to be sustained.
“The NDSP has four components comprising employment opportunities and social services, public finance management, water and sanitation and micro-projects.
“The objective is to mitigate the conflicts in the region by addressing the main causes of unrest and violence.
“The water and sanitation component of this programme is mainly to enhance access to safe, adequate and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services.
“This component is already active in five states — Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers — and we are taking two local government areas per state.’’
The EU Representative, however, complained that the programme received little cooperation from some states.
He said that N2.4 billion from the EU was about to be lost because states were unable to pay their counterpart fund, adding that the deadline is the end of this month.
“All the contracts risk being cancelled and beneficiary communities will feel betrayed.”
He urged the minister to intervene in the interest of the Niger Delta region.
Responding, Usani appreciated the EU for showing interest in developing the Niger Delta.
“We all know the importance of clean, potable water and we are very happy for your intervention.
“I understand that you have had a difficult time collaborating with the ministry but that is about the change.
“I will, however, suggest an expansion of the programme because the region has nine states and I can see that you restricted your intervention to five.”
The minister advised the EU team to extend the programme beyond June 2017 to allow for a more effective partnership. (NAN)