Abuja Water Scarcity: Symptom of government Failure in Water Supply Delivery


Abuja Water Scarcity: A Symptom of government Failure in Water Supply Delivery


Two articles reproduced below demonstrate the pitiable situation of what happens when government fails in its duty to provide water. The first one appeared in the Daily Times of Nigeria of July3, 2012, while the second one is an article written by Andrew Walker of the BBC in 2009.

Water supply situation in most parts of the country will only improve if the huge funds that are always budgeted for water in annual budgets are not diverted into private pockets, and if planning is given its rightful place in the water sector. Today, it is common practice to publicize “constituency water project” by legislators at all levels. This is an uncoordinated approach to investing in water sector.

This blog has discussed corruption, uncoordinated efforts by all tiers of government and water projects that are unplanned for but embarked upon for the sake of politics ( see the following links:  https://weircentreforafrica.com/2011/08/31/corruption-in-…t-in-nigeria-2/



Finally, The Federal Capital Territory, where Abuja is located,  should be a model of reliable and efficient water delivery system for the State Water Agencies which are characterized by poor water supply delivery system  consequent upon lack of  planning, corruption and political interference.


Sachet water goes for N20 in Abuja

Pure Water

A union enforced closure of factories results in scarcity

July 3, 2012 ,By Chris Onyeose

Daily Times of Nigeria

Sachet water, popularly known as pure water, has now become scarce commodity in Abuja following a reported shut down of all water factories in the city.

Due to this development, a sachet of water now sells for N20 and above; as against the normal price of N5. A bag of sachet now sell for N180 and above in few areas that it is still available; as against N100.

“We heard that the pure water producers are on strike and since then we don’t even see it again,” said Philip Asoka, a trader at Wuse Market. “Even when we do, I was shocked when they told me N20 for one pure water. Since then I don’t even have interest again as I now carry water from home to my shop.”

One of the producers, who did not want his name published, said that their union, Pure Water Sellers Association, directed producers to stop business so that inspections can be carried out in their factories to assess the conditions there.

“There is nothing we can do about this as it’s our directives,” he said. “Though we feel sorry for our customers and the hardship they are facing now, we just have to do what is needed and the union is ready to fine any producer who will flout the order N50,000.”

The water vendors of Nigeria

By Andrew Walker
BBC News, Abuja, NigeriaThursday, 5 February 2009
water vendor

Isa earns a hard living pushing a heavy water cart around the rutted streets of the suburbs of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

He is one of tens of thousands of water vendors who deliver jerry cans full of water to houses built without any kind of sanitation.

“Kai! it is hard work, pushing my cart,” the 20-year-old says.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, and according to analysts has made over $1.1 trillion in revenues from the oil industry over the last 30 years; but most Nigerians still rely on people like Isa for their water.

He and a dozen of his friends sleep in a makeshift shelter behind a small household goods shop.

They wake before dawn to queue up at a nearby borehole, where they fill 14 yellow 25-litre jerry cans on their handcarts before setting off around the streets looking for customers.

Heavy load

Fully loaded, the carts weigh at least 350kgs.

The roads they push them over are dirt tracks, rocky and pitted, with sewers running down the middle.

“In the future I want to get another job, but at least I make enough money to live doing this,” Isa says.

The urban poor pay more for water than the urban rich

Isa pays around 10 naira ($0.07, £0.05) per jerry can at the borehole and sells for double that.

He makes around 700 naira a day ($4.70, £3.20), to cover food and living costs.

A large Nigerian family may need around 10 of these jerry-cans every day, customers say.

That adds up to about $486 (£339) every year, a massive pressure on a country where the average person lives on $2 a day.

This is a pattern repeated around the world, according to the UN Development Programme.

The urban poor in developing world cities including Abuja pay much more for their water than citizens of rich cities such as New York or Tokyo, precisely because the poor have to depend on private providers rather a piped municipal supply.

Govenment failure

Virtually none of the suburbs of Nigeria’s capital city have what is known here as “pipe-borne water” provided by the government.

Private individuals have to drill boreholes for themselves.

They are most often fitted with two sets of taps – one for the household, and another facing the street so the owners can make a bit of money on the side.

John, a 25-year-old borehole manager, says the place he looks after in Nyanya Gwandara earns his boss 7,000 naira ($47, £32) a day.

“The man is from Kogi State where he lives, far away. He dug several boreholes in this area for an investment,” he says.

His customers are grateful.

“We cannot wait for the government to do anything, we are relying on other wealthy people to dig boreholes,” says Janet Daniels, who lives in the area.

She cannot afford to buy the water from the delivery boys, so comes every morning to the borehole to save money.

She fills two 20-litre buckets every morning and carries them on her head back to her home.

“I have to boil the water that we drink because its a very shallow borehole, and sometimes its got little particles of stuff in it.”

Otherwise the quality of the water from here is ok, she says.

Husseini, another water vendor working at a borehole in Nyanya Gwandara, says people like the water from this hole, and he even charges more for it on his rounds.

Scummy rivulets

But other water vendors try and find free sources of water like streams and ponds.

These scummy rivulets are often fed by the sewer-streams that run through the middle of the streets.

Diseases like polio, cholera and other types of gastric infection disproportionately affect those in poverty, who get water from bad streams.

Abuja, like other cities in Nigeria, is rapidly growing.

The government has fallen so far behind in providing water here, it may never catch up.

Over the last year the price of a jerry-can of water has doubled.

These problems will only get more acute, and the price of water will only go up.

2 responses to “Abuja Water Scarcity: Symptom of government Failure in Water Supply Delivery

  1. This subject has always made me sad whenever I think of it. In my early childhood, we had a water tap in our household in Isalegangan, Lagos Island. There were also public water fountains along some streets. As I grew older, the water tap started getting dried up just as the public fountains disappeared. For several years that I lived in Ikoyi (late 70s to late 80s), I and several other workers carried plastic jerry cans in the booths of our vehicles so as to fetch water home on our way back from the office or wherever.
    The above is to show that it is not only Abuja that is experiencing inadequate supply of water. It is a problem that pervades the entire country. The question is whether something can be done to improve on the situation, especially as we have set ourselves the assignment of chasing a mirrage of wanting to be in the first 20 economies in the world by 2020 ( 8 years hence). What is our current per capita water supply in comparison with that of the current top 20 economies in the world. We are facing this problem because not enough budgetary allocations are given to the water sector. The little that is given is mismanaged and often times embezzled. The population is fast growing and settlements in Nigeria are as a rule established before we start thinking of extending services to them. Costs of putting up new water works (infrastructure, energy, chemicals, salaries) are going up by the day.
    The above make me doubt if our generation can again see the glorious days of the past.

    • Mr. Hanidu,

      A lot can be done to improve the situation and these include transparency and accountability in the water sector as well as other sectors, proper planning, budget tracking and monitoring (with the involvement of CSOs and other civil society organizations), coordination of activities in the sector so that wastages would be avoided, involvement of beneficiaries at every stage of water schemes, etc.


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