ABUJA, May 26, 2021—Daramola Bosede resides in Ado-Ekiti Southwest of Nigeria. Like many women, she is responsible for ensuring that her family has access to water for their daily use. Yet this seemingly straightforward task is complicated by a myriad of challenges commonplace across the country. She regularly had to resort to using her family’s meagre resources to pay exorbitant prices for water from commercial sellers, without any certainty that the water was actually clean and safe for her family.
60 million Nigerians without access to basic drinking water and 80 million people without improved sanitation facilities
In 2018, Nigeria’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector was declared to be in a state of emergency by the Government. In 2019, a combination of inadequate infrastructure, a lack of required human capital, poor investment, and a deficient enabling regulatory environment – amongst other challenges – meant that approximately 60 million Nigerians were living without access to basic drinking water. 80 million people had no access to improved sanitation facilities, while 167 million couldn’t access basic handwashing facilities.
In rural areas, 39% of households lack access to at least basic water supply, while only half have access to improved sanitation and almost a third (29%) practice open defecation – a fraction that has marginally changed since 1990.
. Access to WASH can impact years of schooling by freeing up time that children spend collecting water to attend school, reducing the prevalence of disease that can keep them out of school, and contributing to a safe and healthy learning environment while at school.
In recent years, the Government of Nigeria has strengthened its commitment towards improving access to WASH services, with President Muhammadu Buhari declaring a State of Emergency in 2018 and launching the National Action Plan (NAP), a 13-year strategy for the Revitalization of Nigeria’s Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Sector aimed at ensuring universal access to sustainable and safely managed WASH services by 2030, commensurate with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ensuring universal access to sustainable and safely managed WASH services by 2030
. One of these initiatives was the National Urban Water Sector Reform Program (NUWSRP).
The NUWSRP outlined several objectives including sector reform, water utility sustainability and commercial viability, infrastructure improvement, service reliability and performance enhancement, and increased access to quality piped water networks in urban areas nationwide.
; and the certification of a total of 33 Local Government Areas within nine States as Open Defecation Free (ODF).
Improving the infrastructure to provide 6 million Nigerians with water
“Due to the infrequent water provided by the Water Board, which flows for about 30 minutes a day, twice a week, I must patronize local water pushers, spending up to 1,500 Naira a day (approximately 4 dollars). Because I am not getting the water directly from its source, the hygienic quality of the water is unknown to me. I therefore, resort to buying a lot of sachet water, which is meant to be cleaner, for bathing, cooking, and drinking”, explained Isah Mohammed (pictured above), a resident of Benue state. “I use two washing machines for my business, the water challenges we face here gets as bad as having to store the soapy water and water used to rinse clothes to recycle for other uses. Since the provision of water to the community through the project, these things have stopped, and the kegs I used to store water before have been kept away as they are no longer used.”
This year, the World Bank Group will continue its support to the Government of Nigeria through the Nigeria Sustainable Urban And Rural Water Supply, Sanitation And Hygiene (SURWASH) Program with activities designed to enact necessary policy reforms and enhance the capacity of institutions required for effective and sustainable service delivery.
It will support an integrated package of investments to expand access to and increase the use of WASH services in urban and rural areas and small towns. This includes the development of priority infrastructure to improve water supply service delivery and WASH infrastructure in institutions (schools and healthcare facilities) and public places such as markets and motor parks.
The SURWASH Program is projected to provide 6 million Nigerians with basic drinking water services, support 1.4 million in accessing improved sanitation services, develop improved WASH services in 2,000 schools and Health Care Facilities, and assist 500 communities in achieving ODF status.