Business

World Water Day: Dangote, others make case for groundwater protection

A case has been made for extractive industries to prioritize the protection of groundwater in a bid to preserve the environment for the benefit of all.

To do this, businesses were urged to deliberately incorporate the protection of groundwater in their operational designs and sourcing of industrial production facilities.

These were part of the submissions by the Head of Community Affairs and Environment, Dangote Cement Plc, Engr. Tukur Lawal in his presentation to stakeholders in sustainability Ecosystem during a webinar to mark the 2022 World Water Day, recently hosted by the Lagos Business School Sustainability Centre in collaboration with Dangote Cement Plc and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

According to him, Dangote Cement has always engaged in the global best practice in this regard, pointing out that “some of the best practices by Dangote Cement Plc, include the Dry Cement Production Process, recycling and reuse of 20% of water at the company’s Ibese plant in South West Nigeria, as well as channelling of treated water to farmers in the surrounding communities,” a development he said has benefitted about 143 farmers in Zambia.

The virtual event, which had in attendance stakeholders from across Africa, was in line with this year’s theme ‘GroundWater: Making the Invisible Visible’ and it centred on the fact that groundwater is only 3% of the world’s fresh water and yet the largest and most widely distributed source of freshwater.

In her opening submission, Dr Igazeuma Okoroba, the Head of Sustainability, Dangote Cement Plc, said the web forum was organised to raise awareness and promote collaboration in the sustainable use of groundwater, which is an essential resource for everyone.

UNEP Water Specialist, Mr Patrick Lumumba M’mayi, who delivered a presentation on the theme, emphasised the need for collaboration and partnership between Communities, Academia, Government and businesses to tackle groundwater pollution and drive sustainable management of this precious resource.

“The question then becomes: How much do we invest in this resource so that it’s available for our use today and remains available for our generations yet unborn?”

Mrs Oreva Atanya, Manager, LBS Sustainability Centre also admonished the participants and stakeholders to leave with a sense of collective responsibility.

“While organisations like UNEP work based on requests from governments, companies in the extractive industry should also ensure they adhere to the highest environmental standard, NGOs and citizens have a duty as well,” she stated.

According to Kaine Chinwa, a scholar and participant in the panel discussion, it is important that Africa finds solutions locally to mitigate groundwater pollution which is already prevalent around the continent, especially in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.

World Water Day is to commemorate human reliance on water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. The day also brings attention to the actions needed to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6, which stipulates “Clean Water and Sanitation for All by 2030”.

This year’s theme ‘groundwater’ puts a spotlight on the hidden water resource which is of critical significance and increases the awareness of the importance of taking care of our groundwater.

Dangote Cement is Africa’s leading cement producer with nearly 51.6Mta capacity across Africa. A fully integrated quarry-to-customer producer, the company has a production capacity of 35.25Mta in its home market, Nigeria.

The Obajana plant in Kogi State, Nigeria, is the largest in Africa with 16.25Mta of capacity across five lines; the Ibese plant in Ogun State has four cement lines with a combined installed capacity of 12Mta; the Gboko plant in Benue State has 4Mta; and Okpella plant in Edo State has 3Mta.

Through its recent investments, Dangote Cement has eliminated Nigeria’s dependence on imported cement and has transformed the nation into an exporter of cement serving neighbouring countries

LBS Sustainability Centre brings together theory and practice on sustainability, builds leadership skills and supports constructive dialogue and collaboration between business, government, civil society and academics to find solutions to critical sustainability challenges.

The Centre achieves its mission through conducting research that is academically rigorous and policy-relevant; delivering courses on sustainability management in Executive Education, MBA, and custom programmes; and hosting business action platforms to enable constructive dialogue and collaboration between business, government, civil society and academics to find solutions to critical sustainable development challenges in Nigeria.

On the other hand, UNEP, since its inception in 1972, has been the global authority that sets the environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

UNEP’s mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

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