LIWAC 2023 LASWARCO begins registration for Lagos International Water Conference (LIWAC) 2023

THE THIRD LAGOS INTERNATIONAL WATER CONFERENCE

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THE THIRD LAGOS INTERNATIONAL WATER CONFERENCE

Water is one of the most important substances on earth. It is so important that both plants and animals need water to survive. It is, however, essential that the water people drink and use for other purposes is clean and free from germs and pathogens. Therefore, to make water potable, its production must conform to the World Health Organization’s standard. Producing sufficient water for the world population has been a great challenge as many countries are currently grappling with water stress.

According to the journal on livable cities by the State of Green, Denmark, Water plays into many of the other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For instance, it is difficult to imagine achieving SDG II on Sustainable Cities and Communities without also implementing solutions for sustainable urban water management. In developing nations, urban population growth is increasingly putting pressure on urban water supply. It also means wastewater treatment plants must treat an increasing volume of wastewater, sewage collection and treatment systems in creating livable cities.

Without proper sanitation, sewerage and clean water supply, there is no livable city. Therefore, placing water at the center of the city’s urban planning and investments creates a strong foundation for sustainable growth. It increases chances of developing long-term solutions, which successfully integrates the role of water with the needs of both local citizens and nature. The Challenges facing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) could also represent opportunities. There is no gain saying that limited access to water supply and sanitation has a number of damaging effects on developmental outcomes. It negatively affects the health sector, affects education and economic activities, and hampers work efficiency and productivity.

Confronted by the reality of a global water challenge, the Lagos State Government in its characteristic style of setting the agenda for the rest of the continent on critical global issues initiated the annual Lagos International Water Conference (LIWAC). A brainchild of the Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission (LASWARCO), the conference, which has become an annual event since 2020, intends to encourage exchanging transformational and innovative ideas towards finding lasting solutions to water supply and sanitation challenges, especially in a megacity as Lagos with a projected annual growth rate of 3.2%. Highlights of past editions have already attracted investment through partnership with WaterAid to strengthen capacity building and promotion of water sector regulation in Lagos. Signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on the LUWASH programme is also part of the major outcomes of previous editions of the conference.

Other notable highlights of past conferences include enhancing urban water service delivery in Lagos by improving infrastructure and accountability, strengthening regulatory oversight of the Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission, and strengthening the financial, and technical capabilities of Lagos Water utilities and private water vendors among others. The 3rd edition of the conference, a 2-day event, was held last June at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island. A gathering of global water leaders, it sought to unlock great opportunities for private sector investment to promote access, efficiency, and sustainability for water, sanitation and hygiene services. The Theme for LIWAC 2022, “unlocking investments and sustainable access to clean water and sanitation services: The Regulatory Imperative”, focused primarily on knowledge sharing, facilitating efficiency through regulation and how regulation can pave the way for investment opportunities.

It also dwelled on women in focus, Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) for sustainable WASH services as well as maximizing localized and global investment opportunities for WASH In Lagos, challenges of water supply include limited distribution network (coverage is only about 44%), inadequate power supply from the National grid, obsolete equipment and technology, high level of unaccounted-for-water due to illegal connections, pipes leakages, pipeline destructions due to road construction and the public perception that water should be provided free of charge, which was the case until 1997.

Tayo Ogunbiyi is Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja

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