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The Persistent Problem Of Lack Of Access To Water In Sub-saharan Africa: The Case Of Nigeria

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Obinna Uguru (Glasgow, UK), Anita Meldrum

Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland1

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 7: Global challenges for water governance,

Introduction The public health burden due to water related disease caused by lack of access to improved water sources remains a major public health and developmental challenge in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa (JMP, 2014; WHO, 2008). With just a little over a year to the end of 2015, it is evident that, although the region has made some progress in relation to the water access MDG, there are still significant challenges to overcome. This is particularly so when judged with respect to the level of need, resources invested and citizens' expectations across the region. Recent reports (JMP, 2012, 2014) indicate that although the global MDG target of halving the proportion of population without water access by 2015 from the 1990 level was achieved in 2010, the SSA situation is different and not on track to achieving the target next year; or even in the near future. In fact, in 2000 the region had 25% of the world population without access, but currently accounts for more than 40% of the world's 748 million people lacking basic access to water(JMP, 2014). Although it is becoming evident that water governance is critical for sustainable solutions to the problem of water access in the region, understanding of the potential drivers of progress or lack of it in these countries is still evolving and not well understood (GLAAS, 2010, 2012). The aim and objectives of the study was to investigate the drivers of water governance outcomes and variables that impacts on water access in Sub-Sahran Africa most populated country, Nigeria. The analysis done carried out in this paper was done from National Perspective from available relevant records and reports. The study is important in highlighting crucial indicators influencing water resource governance outcomes in the country. Methods/Materials The methodology used in this study is document review and analysis. This involved Interpretative Analysis of reports and publications relevant to understanding the water supply sector and governance. Results and Discussion The finding from the study is summarised briefly under the Political, Economic, Socio-cultural, Technological, Environmental and Legal themes (Table 1): Political Factors The relationship between socio-economic development, the effectiveness and accountability of political institutions, is well understood and documented (Stalgren, 2006; Watkin, 2006). Strong political will and leadership is critical for efficient resource mobilisation and utilisation in the sector. The absence of these, more than any other factors is said to be the major drawback to the provision of water and sanitation infrastructure in many developing countries (Purvis, 2004). Economic Factors Recent UNDP report (UNDP, 2014) indicates that Nigeria still has very high proportion of its population below the absolute poverty line. This has significant influence in how water supply is funded and the options available for improved outcome. Therefore, if the cost of public water supply becomes too expensive for people, chances are that they may resort to unsafe sources. Likewise, the level of households' income and average purchasing power within the economy limits options that may be adopted by households. For example, even though household water treatment systems exist that are capable of delivering safe water sources for households, people may not be able to afford them. Socio-cultural Factors Socio-cultural issues in this context includes a matrix of belief systems, human attitudes and the collective behaviour of the members of a community that influences all aspects water resources management in a given society. Negative or undesired consequences of these interactions could sometimes lead to outcomes such as environmental degradation, corruption and other attitudes that weaken the performance of societal institutions. Socio-cultural issues cover aspects of general population awareness and debates about water and related issues. The less the people are aware of the real issues of safe water and how it affects their health and economic wellbeing, the less there is going to be public debate and political pressure needed to bring about change. The lack of understanding of basic scientific facts of how water is critical in local and national development may have resulted in the class with political responsibility not doing much about it (Akpabio, 2008; Akpabio, 2011). Technological and Technical Factors The main technological challenge facing the country at the moment is that of ageing water supply infrastructure and resulting technical losses (World Bank, 2013a). In the past, availability of appropriate technology had played a limiting role in improved water access delivery. But in recent times, a range of technological solutions now exists; at least in some parts of the world, able to increase the quantity of water available for the public by rendering previously available, but un-potable water, safe for human consumption (Hunter, 2009). In fact, it can be argued that technology already exist that can in some way address any form of water access challenge. Environmental Factors The state of environmental sanitation in Nigeria is poor, resulting in widespread water contamination and pollution, with the attendant public health consequences. A review of data on access to adequate sanitation in Nigeria between 1990 and 2008 reveals that only 32% of the population had access to improved sanitation (Institute, 2009). Similarly, a report by Nigeria's National Bureau of Statistics (2009), states that about 36% of households in Nigeria disposed of their waste within their compound and over 50% of the population surveyed disposed of their refuse at an unauthorised refuse heap. Only 1.7 % of the population disposes of their refuse in government approved bins/sheds. In the same period, 38% of households with access to sanitation used covered pit latrines, whilst 9% of the population studied had none and 10% flushed to a septic tank (NBS, 2009). Legal Issues In Nigeria, water sector law has experienced little institutional development in the last 50 years. Consequently, it is in dire need of structural reform in order to align with contemporary realities and modern global trends. According to (Longe, Omole, Adewumi, & Ogbiye, 2010) a study of water rights, laws, and land use in Nigeria, showed that water related laws are grossly inadequate and ineffective. The report further highlighted that there is a long way to go with respect to their sophistication and implementation. Conclusion The study systematically identified a range of category of factors that influences water governance in Nigeria. It shows that any effective water governance regime in the country must take these factors into considerations to realise sustainable progress. It draws the conclusion that that lack of access to safe water and sanitation is not only due in part to the geo-environmental constraints in many parts of the region, but largely water governance issues. 1. ADB/ADF. 2005, Federal Republic of Nigeria Country Strategy Paper 2005-2009. African Development Bank African Development Fund, Washington DC. 2. Akpabio, E. M. (2008). "Water is GodÂs": commonality View and the Challenges of State Institutions in Nigeria. Monpelier, France: XIIIth World Water Congress. 3. Akpabio, E. M. (2011). 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2011 IWRA - International Water Resources Association - - Admin