Will Lagos become the 12th city in the world that will likely run out of drinking water in the very near future? Depo Adenle.

The following eleven cities likely to run out of drinking water listed by the BBC are – Bangalore, Beijing, Cairo, Cape Town, Jakarta, Moscow, Istanbul, Mexico City, London, Tokyo and Miami.

The BBC reported that one in four of the world’s 500 largest cities, i.e. 125 cities, are in a situation of “water stress”. Lagos whose Greater Metropolis has a population of approximately 21 million according to Wikipedia is one of them. Apart from its rapidly exploding population which is due to high birth rate and huge rural urban migration in the country. The other factors responsible for making this city ‘water stress’ are point source and non-point source pollution. Both groundwater and surface water are polluted (Explain these two terms)

Lagos is a ‘water stress’ city which may become a ‘water scarce’ city because of the way its water resources is being managed. Water stress occurs when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use. Water stress causes deterioration of fresh water resources in terms of quantity (aquifer over-exploitation, dry rivers, etc). Water scarcity is the lack of access to adequate quantities of water for human and environmental uses,

Water supply situation in Lagos metropolis has resulted in a preponderance of water vendors. It has also caused using poorly designed and constructed water supply boreholes which results in dependence on poor quality water and exposure to water borne diseases.

The following are the key factors that account for the likelihood of 11 cities running out of drinking water like Cape Town.

  • Very short rainfall season – Tokyo.
  • Poor management of a coastal limestone aquifer which causes seawater intrusion – (Biscayne Aquifer) Miami.
  • Climate change and sea level rise – Miami.
  • Inadequate planning and investments – Brazil.
  • Excessive leakages from water supply distribution network and water pollution – Bangalore.
  • Excessive pollution of surface water – Beijing.
  • Heavy pollution of the only available surface water source – Cairo.
  • Rising sea level as a result of climate change and excessive abstraction of groundwater – Jakarta.
  • Pollution problems caused by the industrial legacy of the old Soviet Union – Moscow.

Lagos shares some of the key factors listed above with the eleven cities and also suffers from pollution of surface and groundwater and a high degree of unaccounted for water(UFW) which was reported by the World Bank(2000) to be up to  63% in 1998. Unaccounted-for-water is the difference between the volume of water pumped into the distribution system and the volume of water sold or otherwise accounted-for. (Generally expressed as a percentage of total pumpage)..

Pollution of groundwater in Lagos is due to non-enforcement of the laws/regulations governing discharges of industrial wastewater into the environment and unscientific siting and construction of landfills.

The 11 cities most likely to run out of drinking water – like Cape Town (BBC, 11 February 2018).

Cape Town is in the unenviable situation of being the first major city in the modern era to face the threat of running out of drinking water.

However, the plight of the drought-hit South African city is just one extreme example of a problem that experts have long been warning about – water scarcity.

Despite covering about 70% of the Earth’s surface, water, especially drinking water, is not as plentiful as one might think. Only 3% of it is fresh.

Over one billion people lack access to water and another 2.7 billion find it scarce for at least one month of the year. A 2014 survey of the world’s 500 largest cities estimates that one in four are in a situation of “water stress”

According to UN-endorsed projections, global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40% in 2030, thanks to a combination of climate change, human action and population growth. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that Cape Town is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are the other 11 cities most likely to run out of water.

  1. São Paulo

Brazil’s financial capital and one of the 10 most populated cities in the world went through a similar ordeal to Cape Town in 2015, when the main reservoir fell below 4% capacity.

At the height of the crisis, the city of over 21.7 million inhabitants had less than 20 days of water supply and police had to escort water trucks to stop looting.

It is thought a drought that affected south-eastern Brazil between 2014 and 2017 was to blame, but a UN mission to São Paulo was critical of the state authorities “lack of proper planning and investments”.

The water crisis was deemed “finished” in 2016, but in January 2017 the main reserves were 15% below expected for the period – putting the city’s future water supply once again in doubt.

  1. Bangalore

Local officials in the southern Indian city have been bamboozled by the growth of new property developments following Bangalore’s rise as a technological hub and are struggling to manage the city’s water and sewage systems.

To make matters worse, the city’s antiquated plumbing needs an urgent upheaval; a report by the national government found that the city loses over half of its drinking water to waste.

Like China, India struggles with water pollution and Bangalore is no different: an in-depth inventory of the city’s lakes found that 85% had water that could only be used for irrigation and industrial cooling.

Not a single lake had suitable water for drinking or bathing.

  1. Beijing

The World Bank classifies water scarcity as when people in a determined location receive less than 1,000 cubic metres of fresh water per person a year.

In 2014, each of the more than 20 million inhabitants of Beijing had only 145 cubic metres.

China is home to almost 20% of the world’s population but has only 7% of the world’s fresh water.

A Columbia University study estimates that the country’s reserves declined 13% between 2000 and 2009.

And there’s also a pollution problem. Official figures from 2015 showed that 40% of Beijing’s surface water was polluted to the point of not being useful even for agriculture or industrial use.

The Chinese authorities have tried to address the problem by creating massive water diversion projects. They have also introduced educational programmes, as well as price hikes for heavy business users.

  1. Cairo

Once crucial to the establishment of one of the world’s greatest civilisations, the River Nile is struggling in modern times.

It is the source of 97% of Egypt’s water but also the destination of increasing amounts of untreated agricultural, and residential waste.

World Health Organization figures show that Egypt ranks high among lower middle-income countries in terms of the number of deaths related to water pollution.

The UN estimates critical shortages in the country by 2025.

  1. Jakarta

Like many coastal cities, the Indonesian capital faces the threat of rising sea levels.

But in Jakarta the problem has been made worse by direct human action. Because less than half of the city’s 10 million residents have access to piped water, illegal digging of wells is rife. This practice is draining the underground aquifers, almost literally deflating them.

As a consequence, about 40% of Jakarta now lies below sea level, according to World Bank estimates.

To make things worse, aquifers are not being replenished despite heavy rain because the prevalence of concrete and asphalt means that open fields cannot absorb rainfall.

  1. Moscow

One-quarter of the world’s fresh water reserves are in Russia, but the country is plagued by pollution problems caused by the industrial legacy of the Soviet era.

That is specifically worrying for Moscow, where the water supply is 70% dependent on surface water.

Official regulatory bodies admit that 35% to 60% of total drinking water reserves in Russia do not meet sanitary standards

  1. Istanbul

According to official Turkish government figures, the country is technically in a situation of a water stress, since the per capita supply fell below 1,700 cubic metres in 2016.

Local experts have warned that the situation could worsen to water scarcity by 2030.

In recent years, heavily populated areas like Istanbul (14 million inhabitants) have begun to experience shortages in the drier months.

The city’s reservoir levels declined to less than 30 percent of capacity at the beginning of 2014.

  1. Mexico City

Water shortages are nothing new for many of the 21 million inhabitants of the Mexican capital.

One in five get just a few hours from their taps a week and another 20% have running water for just part of the day.

The city imports as much as 40% of its water from distant sources but has no large-scale operation for recycling wastewater. Water losses because of problems in the pipe network are also estimated at 40%.

  1. London

Of all the cities in the world, London is not the first that springs to mind when one thinks of water shortages.

The reality is very different. With an average annual rainfall of about 600mm (less than the Paris average and only about half that of New York), London draws 80% of its water from rivers (the Thames and Lea).

According to the Greater London Authority, the city is pushing close to capacity and is likely to have supply problems by 2025 and “serious shortages” by 2040.

It looks likely that hosepipe bans could become more common in the future.

  1. Tokyo

The Japanese capital enjoys precipitation levels similar to that of Seattle on the US west coast, which has a reputation for rain. Rainfall, however, is concentrated during just four months of the year.

That water needs to be collected, as a drier-than-expected rainy season could lead to a drought. At least 750 private and public buildings in Tokyo have rainwater collection and utilisation systems.

Home to more than 30 million people, Tokyo has a water system that depends 70% on surface water (rivers, lakes, and melted snow).

Recent investment in the pipeline infrastructure aims also to reduce waste by leakage to only 3% in the near future.

  1. Miami

The US state of Florida is among the five US states most hit by rain every year. However, there is a crisis brewing in its most famous city, Miami.

An early 20th Century project to drain nearby swamps had an unforeseen result; water from the Atlantic Ocean contaminated the Biscayne Aquifer, the city’s main source of fresh water. Although the problem was detected in the 1930s, seawater still leaks in, especially because the American city has experienced faster rates of sea level rise, with water breaching underground defence barriers installed in recent decades.

Neighbouring cities are already struggling. Hallandale Beach, which is just a few miles north of Miami, had to close six of its eight wells due to saltwater intrusion.

Advertisements

Are some of the clauses of the new ‘Water Resources Bill’ a back door to resurrect the Grazing Bill?

Many Nigerian news outlets, including The Punch, Nigeria Business News and The Nation have commented on the new Nigerian “Executive Water Resources Bill”. Their comments have focused on three contentious Clauses of the Bill:  Three, Four and Five:

“The right to the use, management and control of all surface water and groundwater affecting more than one State pursuant to Item 64 of the Exclusive Legislative list in Part l of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, and as set out in the First Schedule to this Act, together with the beds and banks, is vested in the Government of the Federation to be exercised in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

“As the public trustee of the nation’s water resources, the Federal Government, acting through the Minister and the institutions created in this Act or pursuant to this Act, shall ensure that the water resources of the nation are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable and equitable manner, for the benefit of all persons and in accordance with its constitutional mandate.

“States may make provisions for the management, use and control of water sources occurring solely within the boundaries of the state but shall be guided by the policy and principles of the Federal Government in relation to Integrated Water Resources Management, and this Act.”

One can understand the concerns of those who have written against these clauses because of the political situation in the country. An earlier Bill to provide for grazing reserves for herdsmen all over the country, including far South where cattle is not generally owned, was defeated. There, however, have continued to be confrontations between herdsmen and farmers which have led to killings by herdsmen in several communities.

In an ideal situation, a Water Resources Bill should not contain contentious clauses that look ordinary when the background political history of the country for which the Bill is being proposed is not rigged or something out of the ordinary.

The Federal Government, an amalgamation of diverse nationalities may have finally got rid of military regimes but the years of military’s “command-and-control” system has rendered it a pseudo- presidential system.  This was how the Abacha regime created 774 Local Government Authorities (LGAs) by fiat without rational basis for doing so. The orphan of the Abacha regime has been the basis on which subsequent governments have operated.

The military also tinkered with the creation of River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) without proper consideration of their functions and responsibilities vis-à-vis those other water resources institutions in the country.

These RBDAs should ideally be facilitators of the activities of other water resources institutions rather than project-executing institutions. In their bid to be project executors, the RBDAs have, in a number of cases, duplicated the activities of other institutions without coordination. This has led to a lot of waste in resources with many projects wasting away in several states without the states being aware of them.

Ideally, in the literature of integrated water resources management, water resources should be managed on the basis of a ‘unit river basin,’ which, at the smallest level, can  mean the basin of a small river common to two neighbouring settlements,  going up all the way to mean a river that could be common to multiple states in Nigeria. [Internationally, a ‘unit river basin’ could be common to multiple countries.]

However, this has not been the case in Nigeria. In the unwholesome pseudo presidential system the country operates, any bill that gives the central Government outright control without clear limiting conditions will cause a lot of conflicts.

Rather than the centrall Government  assuming management and control of interstate rivers and aquifers, it should facilitate the joint management of such resources by the states blessed with such resources.

In the USA’s government system after which the Nigerian governance system is supposedly patterned, there are water rights and water laws which form the basis for the management of the country’s water resources. The Federal Government of the USA is not structured like Nigeria’s Federal Government, and it does not practice a unitary system.

For example, the water of the Colorado River Basin is managed on the basis of a Compact negotiated between the “basin states”, not dictated by Washington. The Compact apportioned Colorado River water between Upper and Lower Basin states and, as a result, is considered a defining document in Colorado River management. In this example the USA Federal Government does not control and manage the waters of this huge river basin.

Nigeria should borrow a leaf from how this is done. In other words Nigeria’s central government should serve as a facilitator in developing compacts between states that share interstate rivers just as international bodies such as the UN or the World Bank serve as facilitators in the management of international Rivers/waters such as the River Niger and Lake Chad. They do not manage such water bodies for the riparian Nations.

 

Interstate River Banks and Interstate Aquifers

There is the need to avoid glossing over this new Bill for at least two contentious issues: interstate river banks and interstate aquifers.

Interstate river banks:  The waters of a river can be classified as interstate because the river flows through several states. The river bank DOES NOT flow. It is physically fixed where it is located and cannot be interstate. For example, the banks of the River Niger inside Nigeria cannot be claimed by any upstream riparian. Furthermore, the management of the shores of Lake Chad inside Nigeria cannot be managed by the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) although the LCBC could advice the government of Nigeria on proper management of the lake shores if the quality of the water resources of Lake chad will be impacted through improper use of the lake shores.

The second issue of interstate aquifers requires a high degree of mapping of aquifers that are common to more than one state especially in the sedimentary rock areas of the country.  This will require that aquifer boundaries be properly defined. Detailed hydrogeologic mapping of the degree required for this kind of exercise is yet to be carried out in Nigeria which makes it impossible to determine the riparian states for such aquifers. Furthermore, the government should also merely serve as facilitator and technical advisory body in managing interstate aquifers.

As river banks are fixed physically throughout the course of any river, any idea of the river and the land forming the bank in the river’s journey is therefore absurd but considering the enthusiasm of the central government to acquire grazing reserves, critics of this Bill are justified to cry out because we cannot be sure that the clause(s) that vest management and control of river banks – though an impossibility in this case – will not be a back door to resurrect the “Grazing Reserve Bill.”

3rd June 2018.

DEPO ADENLE, PH.D. (HYDROGEOLOGY) is a retired Water Resources expert, and sends this from Ibadan.

Nigeria’s waste disposal challenges: The case of Lagos.

The world is drowning in ever-growing mounds of garbage by Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, Nov. 21, 2017

Below are the highlights of the Washington Post article on “The world is drowning in ever-growing mounds of garbage” with focus on Lagos Nigeria by DEPO ADENLE.

  • Lagos population was 7 million in 1992 and has tripled.
  • Waste disposal site location was based on remoteness  from population. This is the practice in Nigeria.
  • The first waste disposal site discussed in this article is Olusosun which is directly off the main highway near the overhead bridge exit to Ikorodu, and from which a whiff of burning trash sometimes blows across the city’s standing traffic jams. This blogger experienced the usual burning sensation in this area as you enter Lagos in those days.
  • In 2017, Lagos had two outbreaks of Lassa fever, a sometimes deadly virus, spread by rodent urine or feces that has been linked to poor sanitation. The Lassa fever outbreak in Lagos is more as result of people living in shacks built around this garbage disposal site. The outbreaks of Lassa fever in other parts of Nigeria were in areas that are remote from waste disposal sites but characterized by high population density and very poor sanitation and hygiene.
  • Landfill/waste disposal sites are usually not chosen on the basis of Environmental Impact Assessment. The story of Bariga in the Washington Post article being discussed gives an insight into how waste disposal sites are chosen – not on the basis of planning but convenience. The case of Bariga is also discussed.
  • With the city’s population surging, some of the city’s coastal slums had run out of usable land and started filling in swampy areas with rubbish. Residents of one community, Bariga, agreed a few years ago to allow garbage collectors to use their neighborhood as a dumpsite. They took the trash and extended their property into the bay, covering it with sawdust and building homes on top. Walking on Bariga’s reclaimed land feels like balancing on a trampoline, the ground sinking slightly beneath your feet with each step”.
  • While one cannot fault the author of this article it is doubtful if any Nigerian will build houses on refuse dumps. They may build shacks which are made up of wooden poles and plastic sheets or any other material that can shield them from the environment.
  • A documentary produced by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in Nigeria highlights how high rentals and poverty in Lagos, one of the fastest growing cities on the continent, have driven thousands of residents to build shacks at “Dustbin Estate,” a slum in Awodiora, Ajeromi Ifelodun, to the west of Lagos. (Lagos slum residents live among garbage at “Dustbin Estate” – UrbanAfrica.Net, April 2013.  https://www.urbanafrica.net/news/lagos-slum-residents-live-among-garbage-dustbin-estate-0/).
  • The author of the article noted that Lagos has reacted to its waste challenges by treating it as opportunity and has built a local/international garbage economy—“Across the city, local entrepreneurs and international businesses have opened sorting and recycling plants that export plastics, metals and paper to China and India”.
  • But recently the government has come up with a new plan.
  • It has identified a new dump site in the city of Badagry, 40 miles from Olusosun. It would be a world away, hidden from the growing city, at least in the short term.
  • “It won’t be another eyesore,” promised Adejare, the environment min
  • One issue that was not addressed in the report is the probable impact of waste disposal in landfills that are not scientifically constructed on groundwater quality.

The link to the full article is –

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/the-world-is-drowning-in-ever-growing-mounds-of-garbage/2017/11/21/cf22e4bd-17a4-473c-89f8-873d48f968cd_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-high_lagos-globalwaste%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.622c9e808fbf

By DEPO ADENLE.

 

Urban gate-guarded communities’ water supply woes: Bangalore (India) vis-avis Lagos communities (Nigeria)

People who live in urban gate-guarded communities are affluent and can afford the cost of providing necessary amenities for their families. In Nigeria, the attraction of such highbrow communities usually centers around three considerations: adequate security, water supply and uninterrupted power supply.

These same considerations apply in India.

People who live in Bangalore, a gate-guarded community, are rich IT professionals, hence the reference to it as India’s “Silicon Valley”. They want and can afford the best for their families. In Nigeria the population of such communities is mixed consisting of successful young professionals and entrepreneurs.

What got this blogger interested in this topic was the short video provided by the BBC News on Bangalore, the ‘Indian silicon valley’. As a result of the increasing population pressure, the water supply in this community has reached breaking point.

This situation is the subject of the BBC video, Bangalore water woes: India’s Silicon Valley dries up. The web link to the the BBC video:

(http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-india)

And the subtitles of each frame are given below:

  • This is the first city in India which has actually physically run out of water.
  • Morning rush hour and these tankers take over Bangalore streets.
  • They are carrying precious commodity – water.
  • If we don’t supply water then there is no water for them.
  • Earlier these used to be wetlands.
  • At that time we were getting water at a depth of 300 feet.
  • Now it is 1,400 t0 1,500 feet.
  • Thousands of tankers haul millions of litres of water across Bangalore daily.
  • Bangalore is one of India’s fastest growing cities, its Silicon Valley.
  • But its traditional water sources are drying up and are also contaminated.
  • So many people now depend on water delivered by private tankers controlled by cartels sometimes called “water mafia”.
  • I would think in some form it does operate like a cartel but it’s something nobody wants to talk about openly.
  • Software professional Subir Bose lives in an upmarket gated complex.
  • Like the other 200 families here, he’s at the mercy of tanker operators.
  • Yes we are still getting water but the quality of water is suspect.
  • The negotiations have become tougher with them because the rates are going higher.
  • Bangalore has 400,000 bore wells diminishing its ground water.
  • It is estimated that about 400 t0 500 million litres of water must be extracted every day.

Mr. S. Vishwanath, a conservationist, says in conclusion of the video that “So if bore wells dry out the city starts to lose its lifeline. So the crisis is how to revive and keep these bore wells alive. Bangalore has been in water management since 1890s. So it needs to start to become a pioneer once again to solve the crisis that grips it”.

Currently the situation in Nigeria, i.e. heavy dependence on water tankers in high brow communities, is not caused by population pressure on the groundwater resources. Rather, it is caused by not paying due attention to proper water supply borehole location vis-à-vis location of onsite sanitation, poor borehole construction practices and skimping on borehole cost which is necessitated by having to drill down to up to 200 to 300 meters as noted by a Nigerian news-site, Naij.com, which states that if people in gate-guarded communities in Lagos want to have access to potable water without depending on groundwater they have to buy water from water tankers or drill deep boreholes.

In the case of Bangalore, the exponential increase in the number of boreholes necessary for the exploding population of this affluent community and the lowering of the water table to a point where groundwater abstraction cost becomes prohibitive has resulted in huge dependence on water tankers which calls for proper management of the groundwater resources in order to wean it from dependence on water tankers.

Lagos Island, where the highbrow communities are located, is characterized by:

  1. Shallow water-table.
  2. Absence of centralized sewerage system, hence the use of septic tank system for the disposal of household and human wastes.
  3. These septic tanks are usually about 3 meters deep.
  4. High cost of drilling deep boreholes (200-300 meters deep) which many household cannot afford.

P.S. Ola, O.M. Bankole and A.Y.B. Anifowose (2010) describe the area as having a complex lithology of alternating sequence of sand and clay deposits  up to a depth of about 270m. They delineated seven aquifer horizons at the following depths: 3-10m; 40-70m; 60-100m; 110-140m; 150-180m; 178-210m and 212- 240m, corresponding to aquifer thicknesses of 15-25m, 15-30m; 10-45m; 20-40m; 10-42m; 10-30m and 20-45m respectively.

If above four characteristics are considered each on its own or jointly for example, two of them, especially ‘1’ and ‘3’, they may be responsible for why water supply boreholes in Lagos Island area cannot be relied upon as a source of potable water for the following reasons:

  • Pathways through contamination from on-site sanitation can reach groundwater supplies are through the main body of the aquifer and pathways created by the design and construction of the water supply boreholes. These are called localized pathways.
  • As indicated above these areas are in the unconsolidated recent sediments. Aquifer vulnerability with respect to its contamination in Lagos Island will be a function of the intrinsic characteristics of this geologic terrain.  This vulnerability is dependent on travel time for water to move from ground surface to the water table. It is necessary to note that the water table of the near surface aquifer in this area is shallow. The greater the travel time the greater the opportunity for containment attenuation, hence the need for reliance on deep boreholes, and in addition great lateral distances between on-site sanitation and water supply boreholes will also offer the opportunity for containment attenuation. The latter requirement to ensure long travel time is a luxury in these areas because of the ubiquitous presence  of septic tanks.

Most of the gate-guarded communities on Lagos Island claim to have central water supply equipped with water treatment plants. The prices of properties are really high and one would expect that such communities would have top quality communal services, but some do not.

A company called Neighbourhood Review provides information on some of the Lagos communities, such as Greenland Estate, Cooperative Villa Estate, Femi Okunnu Estate, Cadogan Estate, Igbo Effon Estate, Royal Garden Estate, Thomas Estate,  Marshy Hills Estate and Chevy View Estate to mention a few.

Here are two of the reviews:

“Cooperative Villa Estate: The estate has a water supply unit but was not functional at the time of this review. All houses in the estate have their boreholes and reservoirs.

Femi Okunnu: The estate has a water supply unit but was not functional at the time of this review. All houses in the estate have their boreholes and reservoirs”.

Lessons learnt in the case of Bangalore are summarized above by Mr. S. Vishwanath, a conservationist, who recommends adequate water resources management. While in the case of Lagos Island, transparency concerning claims on infrastructural provision by the estate developers is necessary, especially with respect to provision of communal services.

Finally, there is a need for proper water supply borehole construction and effective public awareness concerning borehole location vis-à-vis on-site sanitation.

 

Governments’ water supply policy should be geared to correcting their bad deeds instead of criminalizing citizens efforts towards improving access.

The Minister also wondered aloud whether there would be groundwater left for future generations considering the present rate of groundwater abstraction! This is a troubling statement coming from a country’s Minister of Water Resources because groundwater development at the current rate cannot completely empty the aquifers in Nigeria as the country is not in a climatic zone (arid) where there will always be recharge to the aquifers either in the Sahel or the humid regions of Nigeria. 

At the just concluded 53rd Annual International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Society for Mining and Geosciences at Abuja, the Minister of Water Resources bemoans the ubiquitous drilling of boreholes by individuals in Nigeria even within the distance of a few meters as small three meters. This kind of observation is common among government officials, both permanent and transient who are always ready to focus on the symptoms of a phenomenon rather than the cause, and are usually ready to pass the buck to the average Nigerian.

Individuals do not need to engage in drilling boreholes except in isolated and rural areas in countries where governments and/or corporations accredited for water provision meet their service-to-the-people responsibilities. Drilling within short distances of each other, therefore, would never arise if the government does its part concerning provision of potable water for its citizens?

It is common knowledge that each family in Nigeria is a ‘micro government’ because it has to generate its own energy, provide its own water as well as organize its own garbage disposal and its own security (neighborhood vigilante), etc.

Government and its officials should stop finger-pointing at what it considers an over-reach by its citizens who are merely doing all they can for survival in the face of failure of government to provide good governance – a major part of it is service to the people – at every level.

Nigerians are all witnesses to the situation at Abuja, Lagos and other big urban centers where every flat in multi-storey buildings has its own electric generator resulting in a cacophony of noise pollution which any visitor from another country cannot miss, and the air pollution is immense.

Should the government crack down on these unintended polluters as is the case in some urban centers go unchallenged? In the same vein, the Minister of Water Resources should not attempt to blame and criminalize the attempts of families that are just trying to provide water for everyday use by drilling domestic water supply boreholes.

This blog has cried out about the adverse impact of corruption on the provision of potable water supply in Nigeria.

There have been reported cases of advance procurement for several years of some water treatment chemicals by politically-appointed Water Board members. Transparency International reported that billions of Naira tha would have been used to improve access to potable water have been corruptly embezzled since independence.

Here is a quotation from this blog: (https://weircentreforafrica.com/2011/08/31/corruption-in-the-water-sector-makes-access-to-potable-water-and-sanitation-a-moving-target-in-nigeria-2/ ):

Luke Onyekakeyah’s article on  Corruption in the water sector some years ago noted  that “conservatively not less than $1 trillion dollars have been pumped into the public water sector since the past 46 years of independence. This figure excludes private expenditures in the water sector. Nigeria being a corruption-ridden nation, over 60 per cent of this amount was corruptly embezzled.”

While the source of Onyekakeyah’s data for this article published in The Guardian [a Nigerian newspaper], a couple of years ago is unknown and while the figure may seem outrageous, goings-on in the water and sanitation sector in the country would tend to buttress the claim about the adverse impact of corruption on low figure on access to potable water.  Sixty percent of a trillion dollars of those years should be adequate – then and now – to significantly change the current statistics on access to potable water and good sanitation in Nigeria”.

It is common knowledge that most water corporations in the country only supply water to Government Housing Estates or GRAs and that less than 10 percent of the population of any urban area gets its water from water corporations. I have noticed while staying at a hotel in a high-income area of Abuja, the country’s capital that the ‘mairuwa’(cart-puller water vendors) sell water in jerrycans to households. If this could happen in that kind of area in the country’s capita, it is easy to imagine what people in less-privileged areas of the country.

The Minister also wondered aloud whether there would be groundwater left for future generations considering the present rate of groundwater abstraction! This is a troubling statement coming from a country’s Minister of Water Resources because groundwater development at the current rate cannot completely empty the aquifers in Nigeria as the country is not in a climatic zone (arid) where there will always be recharge to the aquifers either in the Sahel or the humid regions of Nigeria. 

Even in the Sahel part of the country, there is appreciable rainfall during the wet seasons although in the Sahel, there is the need to manage groundwater abstraction so that future cost of abstraction will not be prohibitively high.

The Minister’s point on the need to carry out modeling of our ground water is in the right direction. There is a need to model the country’s surface water resources which is impossible to achieve without having good long-term data. The Government needs to invest in collection of good quality data in the management of its surface and groundwater resources. It is important to know how much government devotes to this important area of water resources management.

Government at state and local government levels should invest more in the provision of potable water instead of seeking to tax or criminalize the efforts of citizens who are actually assisting governments in what is an essential part of their functions of service to the people.

Finally, to avoid the kind of embarrassing technical mistake by the minister, it would be necessary for government officials to be properly briefed whenever they need to make public pronouncements at professional or technical gatherings.

DEPO ADENLE

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, on Wednesday (March 29, 2017) expressed worry over the increasing rate of indiscriminate drilling of boreholes by quacks in the country.

Borehole 2017

Mr. Adamu said this at the 53rd Annual International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Society for Mining and Geosciences in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the conference is entitled: “The Extractive Industry: imperatives for Wealth Creation and Employment Generation”.

He called on the members to show enough concern, just as he said the society had a lot to do in the water resources sector.

Mr. Adamu said it was time Nigeria sought ways to protect its surface and underground water resources effectively.

“It is getting out of hand. You find a situation whereby within three meters, households are drilling boreholes; people are not mindful of the interference.

“We are spending too much money, whereas, we can have maybe a single unit to serve people. I think it’s time we look at these issues.

“I think it is very important we do not exploit our ground water resources to a point where there will be nothing left for the future generation of this country,” he said.

The minister said the National Water Resources bill, approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), would soon be forwarded to the National Assembly.

According to him, the bill consists of a modelling regulation to monitor exploitation of ground water resources.

He said that the bill when passed, would ensure the setting up of a hydro-drilling industry in the country.

He said the lack of proper regulation in drilling activities had made it an all comers industry, thereby undermining activities of members of the society.

However, Olugbenga Okunlola, President, Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, sought for a collective integration and corporation among governments, industry, academia and technical partners to support geosciences data collection.

This, Mr. Okunlola said, would help in the provision of pre-completion geosciences information to mining companies to support economically viable extraction processes.

He commended the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari on his emphasis on economic recovery and diversification in the solid mineral sector.

“This has been practically translated into viable increased funding for the major government institutions,” he said.

Premium Times, (NAN), March 29, 2017.

People Power Defeats ‘Death Sentence’ Water Bill In Nigeria — But The Fight Isn’t Over

This blog has expressed concerns about the dangers of carrying out privatization exercise without involving all stakeholders in the process: (https://weircentreforafrica.com/2015/02/27/privatisation-of-water-supply-in-developing-economies-lagos-state-case/). It also provided information about the views and concerns of the USA Congressional Black Caucus on the same issue (https://weircentreforafrica.com/2015/06/23/congressional-black-caucus-against-lagos-water-privatisation/). …

Peter Gleick (1999) in his paper on “The Human Rights to Water”  “argues that access to a basic water requirement is a fundamental human right implicitly and explicitly supported by international law, declarations, and State practice. Governments, international aid agencies, non-governmental organizations, and local communities should work to provide all humans with a basic water requirement and to guarantee that water as a human right.”

Lagos State failed to guarrantee water as a human right to the people of Lagos. 

It has attempted many times to privatise water supply and failed because of public outcries  arising from non-involvement all stakeholders in the process. Using its State Assembly to go around the problem by way of a “Lagos Environmental Bill” is not only a smart alec move but an ingenious and very unfair way to try another route for its failed attempt at privatizing its water supply.

The enlightened people of the State and the NGOs in the water sector should be commended for their efforts in exposing the Government’s clandestine approach to the issue of privatization.

As the title states the fight is not over; the public and the NGOs should be prepared for government’s effort for other forms of guerilla method to force water supply privatization on the good people of Lagos State.

DEPO ADENLE

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

People Power Defeats ‘Death Sentence’ Water Bill In Nigeria — But The Fight Isn’t Over

On World Water Day, a massive rally unfolded in Lagos, Africa’s most populous city, to protest the ongoing water crisis.

By Dominique Mosbergen

In a heartening about-face, the government of Lagos, Nigeria, has backpedaled on a controversial law that would have criminalized the informal water sector, which almost 20 million people rely on to obtain their drinking water.

Activists credit overwhelming public opposition for the reversal, and environmental and human rights groups are breathing a sigh of relief. But a huge protest that unfolded in Lagos on Wednesday ― World Water Day ― signals their fight is far from over.

“I can confirm that most of the anti-people provisions have been removed from the final version of the law,” Akinbode Oluwafemi, deputy executive director for Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, told The Huffington Post in an email this week.

But even with the revisions to the law, “it is still not yet uhuru,” Oluwafemi warned in a statement, using the Swahili word for freedom.

The United Nations, local activists and citizens alike had reacted strongly to a draft of the Lagos Environment Bill, passed hastily in February by the Lagos State House of Assembly. The bill went after the metropolitan area’s informal water sector ― including local “mai ruwa,” or water vendors, who have been known to charge exorbitant fees ― as well as residents who drill their own boreholes or fetch water from lakes or rivers.

According to activists, the draft included language so broad that it would have potentially threatened most residents’ access to drinking water. Lagos, Africa’s most populous city, located in a state of the same name, is the midst of a major water crisis. Only 1 in 10 people have access to water that the state utility provides. Oluwafemi called the state’s proposal a “death sentence.”

“When the State fails to provide adequate access to drinking water, no one should be criminalized or fined for fetching water from lakes, rivers, or any other natural sources,” Léo Heller, U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation, said in a statement last month, adding that the Lagos state government had gone “a step too far.”

For decades, the state has “neglected to invest” in water infrastructure in Lagos, Jesse Bragg, spokesman at the nonprofit Corporate Accountability International, explained from Boston earlier this month. It has instead favored the possible privatization of Lagos’ water utility through public-private partnerships, he said ― a plan that has repeatedly been met with public opposition, and has repeatedly failed.

Activists felt the draft of the environment bill was a way for the government to push its privatization agenda.

“We are particularly worried that the governor will sign a law that practically wills our right to a free gift of nature … to private interests whose sole concern is profits,” said Francis Abayomi, executive director of the Peace and Development Project in Nigeria.

Amid the opposition, Lagos lawmakers scrambled to assure their constituents that the bill, which also included provisions related to waste management and other issues, would “benefit all Lagosians.”

Akinwunmi Ambode, the governor of Lagos state, said the bill would “result in historic environmental victories” as he signed it into law on March 1. Tunde Braimoh, the House committee chairman on information, strategy and security, added that the bill’s more “contentious” provisions had already been removed before Ambode signed it.

However, to the chagrin of environmental and human rights groups, the law’s final language was not made public until almost three weeks later.

In a statement last Thursday, a coalition of activist groups called for the government to “stop hiding” the details of the new law. Government officials finally released the law’s language to the public over the weekend.

Lagos, home to 21 million people, is Nigeria’s and Africa’s most populous city. Water shortages, fueled in part by recurrent drought and violence, have been decimating Nigeria for years.

“We are so impressed that the Lagos government allowed the voice of the people to prevail in its decision,” Oluwafemi said in a statement after the revised language was released. “The Governor Ambode administration [is] demonstrating that it is a listening one and we commend this.”

But even as they celebrate their victory this week, Oluwafemi and other activists have stressed that they’re not about to rest on their laurels. On Wednesday, World Water Day, hundreds of people gathered in the heart of Lagos to protest water privatization.

Organized by the “Our Water, Our Right” coalition, an alliance of several African and international environmental and human rights groups, over 1,000 people were expected to attend the rally. They called on the government to turn its back on privatization and instead use public funding to improve water infrastructure and treatment, as well as welcome public participation in the decision-making process.

“This is not the end of the water crisis in Lagos,” Lauren DeRusha, an associate campaign director at Corporate Accountability International, said in an email this week.

People protest public-private partnerships in Lagos on World Water Day

Speaking on his mobile phone from the rally on Wednesday morning, Philip Jakpor, an activist with Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, said that 500 people had already joined the protest and “many more are joining as we go along.”

“We are saying ‘no’ to water privatization,” he said.

Jakpor explained that while the “most anti-people” sections of the new environment law were removed and it does include some positive water-related gains ― such as more rigorous regulation on commercial water users ― the legislation still appears to support water privatization “in the long run.”

“We still restate our opposition to public-private partnerships in the water sector, which the state is still pressing ahead with,” Oluwafemi said in a statement on Monday. “We are determined to challenge this false solution through lawful means, including public demonstrations, in the days ahead.”

See photos from Wednesday’s World Water Day rally in Lagos below. 

COMMUTERS AND TRADERS CROWD NIGERIAN COMMERCIAL CAPITAL.

Molue gridlock

LAGOS WATERtwoREJECT

OUR WATER OUR RIGHT

LAGOS WATER4

LAGOSIANS REJECT PPPLAGOS WATER5not solution

PPP IS NOT SOLUTION

Dominique Mosbergen Reporter, The Huffington Post

People Power Defeats ‘Death Sentence’ Water Bill In Nigeria — But The Fight Isn’t Over

Onitsha: World’s Poster city for worst air pollution.

The following bullet points summarize the crux of the matter or the underlying factors responsible for making Onitsha and many other developing countries’ cities places with air pollution problems:

  •  Very poor awareness about the health implications of air pollution.
  • Lack of, or poor enforcement of environmental regulations which may be due to budgetary constraints or poor commitment by governments at all levels to implementing regulations. Enforcement of regulations requires hiring and supervision of several environmental officers for numerous urban centers.
  • Poor coordination of the activities of environmental officers at the three tiers of government in Nigeria where the Onitsha case is a mere sample of what the situation really is in just about all communities, especially the urban areas. The Local Government Authorities employ Water and Sanitation Environmental (WES) officers whose activities are poorly monitored.

 The [Nigeria] National Environmental Sanitation Policy of 2005 is silent on the issue of air pollution. This may be responsible for the weak attention paid to this aspect of environmental sanitation in the country. The following eight constraints are listed in this policy as being responsible for hindering effective environmental sanitation in the country:

  1.  Lack of clear policy assigning responsibilities for environmental sanitation within the levels of government.
  2. Poor perception of environmental sanitation as an essential service and a major determinant of health and good standard of living.
  3. Inappropriate institutional framework.
  4. Duplication of responsibility by many stakeholders in the sector.
  5. Weak and poorly enforced Public Health Laws, State Laws and Bye-laws.
  6. Lack of adequate professional manpower especially at the state and LGA levels.
  7. Inadequate research activities.
  8. Inadequate environmental sanitation education and awareness.

 The sad story of Onitsha and other urban centers in Nigeria with air pollution problems discussed below should be viewed against the background of the observations made by this blogger and the constraints listed in the National Environmental Sanitation Policy.

DEPO ADENLE, February 16, 2017

=========================================

Welcome to Onitsha: the city with the world’s worst air

By Hadassah Egbedi/theguardian.com, 13 February 2017.

The Nigerian city has recorded the world’s worst levels of PM10 air pollution. But although the results are lethal, the problem is not taken seriously here.

onitsha-1b

Cooking fires and burning rubbish have contributed to record-setting levels of air particulates in Onitsha, Nigeria, according to WHO measurements made in 2016. Photograph: Hadassah Egbedi for the Guardian

 

Approaching Okpoko market through thick smog on the back of an okada (motorcycle taxi), the natural reaction is to cover your nose to protect yourself from the dust storm – but the effort is futile.

When a lorry zooms past, kicking up yet another red cloud of dirt, a trader turns the head of a sleeping toddler away from the road, a protective act that is as poignant as it is pointless.

This is a typical day in the southern Nigerian port city of Onitsha – which last year gained notoriety when it was ranked the worst city in the world for the staggering levels of PM10 particulate matter in its air.

Onitsha’s mean annual concentration was recorded at 594 micrograms per cubic metre by the World Health Organization – massively exceeding the WHO’s annual guideline limit for PM10s of 20μg/m3.

PM10 refers to coarse dust particles between 10 and 2.5 micrometres in diameter, while PM2.5s are even finer and more dangerous when inhaled, settling deep in a person’s lungs. Sources of both include dust storms, gases emitted by vehicles, all types of combustion, and industrial activities such as cement manufacturing, construction, mining and smelting. Onitsha scores highly on most of the above – as do other rapidly growing Nigerian cities such as Kaduna, Aba and Umuahia, all of which also featured in the WHO’s 20 worst offenders for PM10s.

In Onitsha’s very busy Okpoko market, my air quality monitor registers 140 for PM10s and 70 for PM2.5s – all way over recommended healthy levels, but still nothing compared to the readings triggered in other parts of this densely populated commercial and industrial hub.

The entire vicinity of the market is perpetually dusty, as wood-sellers saw lumber into different shapes and sizes. The air here is made worse by all the fine sand particles that fly off the back of trucks as they visit one of the many dredging companies on the bank of the River Niger, just behind the wood market.

 

5373

Some residents of Onitsha are unaware of the dangerous levels of pollution. Photograph: Hadassah Egbedi for the Guardian

One female traffic warden has been working in the same spot here for two days. How does she cope with the dust? “I am just doing my job,” she replies reluctantly. “Dust does not kill people.”

But she is mistaken. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep), around 600,000 deaths throughout Africa every year are associated with air pollution, while an October 2016 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) suggested that polluted air could be killing 712,000 people prematurely every year across the continent.

The warden’s attitude towards this invisible but deadly threat is widespread among Onitsha’s residents – but not necessarily because they are nonchalant about their health. Most are simply unaware of the issue.

Some say they have more pressing concerns, such as how to feed their family. Others have simply become accustomed to living in a dirty and polluted environment.

Onitsha is grossly polluted – not just in terms of the air quality, but also the solid waste that litters the streets, blocking drainages and canals. With not a single waste bin in sight, heaps of unregulated rubbish dumps occupy roadsides and street corners.

 

5472

Rubbish clogs Onitsha’s streets, drainages and canals. Photograph: Hadassah Egbedi for the Guardian

Ikechukwu Obizue, a businessman in the neighbourhood of Nwangene, says residents can only do so much when there is little corresponding effort by the city’s government.

“Onitsha is quite dirty, but the government is not doing anything about it. We do environmental sanitation monthly, but then the city returns to being dirty,” Obizue says. “It is the government’s responsibility to keep the city clean, not the work of the residents – people in this city are too busy hustling to make an income.”

‘We don’t take air pollution seriously’

In Nwangene, my air monitor shows 667μg/m3 for PM10s – a reading in excess of the 594 annual figure that gave Onitsha its title of the world’s most polluted city. What’s more, the smaller and even more dangerous particulate (PM2.5) reading of 290 is far in excess of the WHO’s annual figure of 66.

The air quality proves just as bad at Ochanja market, with PM10s registered at 586 micrograms and PM2.5s at 266. Yet in these highly polluted areas, few people show any sign of trying to protect themselves from the threat.

There are only a few air masks in sight. A good number of aluminium and copper recyclers are not wearing masks, even while smelting metal scraps. Worse still, most smelting activities are done in the open, releasing monstrous clouds of smoke into the core of the city.

At one of the few state-approved dump sites on Creek Road, Ikechuckwu works at a smelting workshop. He is sweating profusely as he sits on a pile of ash, taking a break from work. He explains he has been smelting iron for a little over five years – but says not to worry about his health.

“I know how to take care of myself,” he brags. “I am not wearing a nose mask because I don’t need it. I take medicine to cater for my health.”

5472-1

Residents conduct a monthly cleanup, but the city quickly fills with waste again. Many locals blame government inaction for the problem. Photograph: Hadassah Egbedi for the Guardian

It is hard to determine to what extent these high concentrations of particles are affecting the residents of Onitsha, since there is no official data – but the health effects attributed to sustained exposure to PMs, especially PM2.5s, are well proven.

For a state government that can barely manage its waste disposal system, however, regulating its air quality appears a far-fetched aspiration. The now defunct Anambra State Environmental Protection Agency was widely criticised for failing in its responsibility to effectively tackle environmental pollution, and in its place, the Anambra State Waste Management Agency was created – with little effect.

The state’s Ministry of Environment, Beautification and Ecology did not respond to the Guardian’s questions regarding air pollution in Onitsha.

Tipping point: revealing the cities where exercise does more harm than good

In at least 15 cities, air pollution has now become so bad that the danger to health of just 30 minutes of cycling outweighs the benefits of exercise altogether, according to new research.

“The major problem is that we don’t take air pollution seriously in Nigeria,” says medical practitioner Dr Nelson Aluya. “As the population increases and we become more industrialised, we ought to have active air-monitoring agencies and a federal environmental protection agency. We say they are there – but are they active?”

In truth, air quality monitoring and control is not on the radar of many African governments. Nigeria has a long list of environmental protection laws and regulations that are barely enforced.

“Even in the healthcare sector,” Aluya continues, “there is no standardised care to monitor those who have chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases resulting from exposure to bad air, and no standard procedure in hospitals to check for oxygen levels.

“So you see, we are in deep trouble. If we have not recognised the fact there’s a problem, then how do we solve it? Unfortunately, people will keep dying as stakeholders remain nonchalant.”