ABUJA, Nigeria — Nearly 60 million people in Nigeria lack access to clean and safe water. The Federal Republic of Nigeria is comprised of 36 states, a Federal Capital Territory and 774 local government areas. These governments are responsible for water quality in Nigeria.
The federal government is in charge managing water resources; the state government focuses on responsibility for urban water supply and the local governments, together with communities, are responsible for water supply to rural areas.
Although significant progress has been made at the federal level to define institutional roles and develop supporting policies for water supply and sanitation service delivery, the state level is struggling. Reasons for this shortfall can be linked to a lack of publicity of the policy at the state level.
Poor water quality in Nigeria has caused several deadly diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid and poliomyelitis. Cholera alone has been the cause of thousands of deaths. This water calamity is unacceptable and has led to situations of untold suffering, affecting the impoverished and sustainable development.
“This water crisis particularly affects the lives of women, who carry the burden of fetching water and caring for sick children, and girls, who may be forced to miss school because of the absence of toilets, thus limiting their exposure to education and consequently, the opportunity to make choices that could help lift them out of poverty,” Haua Musa, a Nigerian citizen, tells Water Aid. Musa’s life revolves around accessing water, for bathing, cooking and cleaning. Many of her daily tasks depend on water, yet there is none.
In May 2007 the Nigerian Standard for Drinking Water Quality Act was proposed by the Director General of the Standards Organization of Nigeria and approved in April 2007.
This Act created a standard for water quality which is tailored to the World Health Organization guidelines. These guidelines include the documentation of water’s physical, chemical, microbiological parameters and maximum allowable limits for disinfectants in drinking water.
The enforcement of these standards will help improve water quality in Nigeria. It will also contribute to the reduction of persons affected by water-related diseases. This process can have the potential to increase the process of upgrading non-protected water systems in the country.
Over the years efforts for improvement of water quality has produced positive results. A 2015 survey from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme survey showed that water coverage has increased from 40 percent in 1990 to almost 70 percent in 2015.
More recently, WaterAid Nigeria launched a new strategy to help tackle the underlying causes of poverty and inequality and accelerate profound change through a shared goal of universal access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. The new Nigerian country strategy aims to overcome the failed targets and ensure that everyone everywhere has access to clean water and proper toilets by 2030.
Many are optimistic about the future of this program. With the continued work with the government, colleagues in the development sector, access to water, sanitation and hygiene for all Nigerian by 2030 is plausible.
– Needum Lekia