Category Archives: Water Issues: General

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.

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.

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: ( ):

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.



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.

Nigeria National water master plan captures development up to 2030

The Deputy Manager of the Master Plan Project seems to be assuming two important data – Nigeria’s population growth rate and water demand. While his sweeping statement about these two, sounds pleasing to the ear, one may ask if the Ministry of Water Resources has any fairly reliable information about Nigeria’s population growth rate and water demand.

Our population figures have always been flawed. When the Chairman, National Population Commission, Chief Festus Odimegwu felt uncomfortable about the reliability of the census figures, he resigned his appointment in 2013. Oduimegu was quoted in the Punch Newspaper of October 2013 as saying “During the 2006 census, workers locked out the commissioners over the creation of new areas. When the NPC did its own census in 2006 and said Lagos State was 9 million, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was the governor then came out and declared that the population of Lagos was 17 million.

“Nigeria has run on falsehood for too long. We must stop this falsehood and put a stop to all of these. The Boko Haram problem is partly as a result of that. Because the 2006 census wasn’t correct, the former board of the NPC was unable to publish the figures.

“If they try it, there will be an uproar. We must make Nigeria work. We can’t do that unless we know the statistics. We can’t build infrastructure without demographic data. As long as the figures in Nigeria are wrong, corruption will continue to thrive. We must have an organised data before we can plan for Nigeria.”

With respect to having to consult the master plan for how much water is available, one will like to ask if the nation has any clear idea about how much groundwater is available in each hydrologic area. It is true that we have a fairly good idea about our surface water hydrology but a lot needs to be done about groundwater hydrology.

Finally, it is really a shame that we have to wait until JICA is ready to help us before we can build on what it did in 1995. Are we really an independent country?

Comments by DEPO ADENLE


National water master plan captures development up to 2030

Published on Wednesday, 08 January 2014

Written by NAN

The National Water Resources Mater Plan review now at its final stage, captures water development plan and population growth up to  the year 2030.

Mr Kenneth Sumonu, an Assistant Director in the Department of Allocation and Authorisation, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, said this while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.

Sumonu, the Deputy Manager of the master plan project, said that every area in the country was captured in the master plan of its development agenda.

He added that the master plan would serve as a guide to the country’s development from 2013 to 2030, considering the nation’s population growth and water demand. While this sweeping statement sounds pleasing to the ear, one may ask if the Ministry of Water Resources have any idea about Nigeria’s population growth rate and water demand.

He noted that the country’s water resources were not properly harnessed, thereby necessitating implementation of the master plan for adequate utilisation of these resources.

“The final stage is so important because now, we can say we have a national water master plan that every sector can key into for their development agenda.

“It is very important that the master plan is a guide to ensuring sustainable development within our present demand and it’s from 2013 to 2030.

“Any development that has to do with water, you have to consult the master plan for availability of water. With respect to having to consult the master plan for how much water is available, one will like to ask if the nation has any clear idea about how much groundwater is available in each hydrologic area. It is true that we have a fairly good idea about our surface water hydrology but a lot needs to be done about groundwater hydrology.

“We have abundant water supply resources; we have huge potential even up to 2030; but they are not properly harnessed because water is not evenly distributed.’’

He said the weather data, meteorological data, hydrological data and population growth were the major areas captured in the plan.

Sumonu said the final copy of the document would be presented to the Ministry of Water Resources for full implementation on Jan. 20, 2014.

According to him, the master plan also made reference to Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020, National Water Road Map, MDGs and the Africa Water Vision in developing the plan.

He explained that the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the organisation in charge of the review, developed the first master plan in 1995.

He said that the Federal Government subsequently requested the organisation to update the document for effective management of the country’s water resources.

The assistant director commended the organisation for the job, stating that the master plan was part of the support from the Japanese Government to Nigeria. (NAN)

Probing the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the River Basin Development Authorities Over Misuse of Public Funds: A Welcome Decision

About a month ago the report shown below was filed by Premium Times. The reasons adduced for the probe by the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts are two:

1. Refusal of the agencies to answer queries raised by the Auditor General of the Federation.

2.The Committee’s displeasure over “the manner the basin authorities were administered over the years.”

The probe is supposed to be in form of public hearing. If one considers the above first reason which is on the Auditor’s queries and the fact that the Ministry has refused to honor invitations from the House Committee it is difficult to see what a public hearing will achieve. It will be in the interest of the public if an insight can be given on the number and nature of queries so far given. Many thanks to Premium Times for shining its probing lights on the activities of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. It did so about a year ago, July 27, 2012 when it wrote on “INVESTIGATION] The Massive MDG Fraud (2): How Nigeria’s water ministry steals billions, then leave the taps dry.” (  I doubt if there was any official response to this 2012 article. Apparently the Federal Ministry of Water Resources is becoming another ‘untouchable ministry.’ The second reason for the probe is on the displeasure of the House Committee “over the manner the basin authorities were administered over the years.”

A reader of the current Premium Times report may be suspecting that the concern of the House Committee is about only how funds are being used in the RBDAs. The reader’s suspicion may not be unfounded but may miss a more profound reason. Our RBDAs have lost focus. This becomes glaring if one considers what they are currently engaged in (production of sachet water ‘pure water’ and bottled water) comparison with the articles of the edict that established them.

The following summarizes the functions of the RBDAs:

• To undertake comprehensive development of both surface and groundwater resources for multipurpose use, with particular emphasis on the provision of irrigation infrastructure and the control of flood and erosion for watershed management.

• To construct, operate and maintain reservoir dams, dykes, polders, wells, boreholes, irrigation and drainage systems and other works necessary for the achievement of the RBDAs functions and to hand over all lands to be cultivated under irrigation schemes to the farmers.

• To supply water from RBDAs completed storage schemes to all users for a fee to be determined by RBDA concerned, with the approval of the Minister of Water Resources and Rural Development

• To construct, operate and maintain infrastructure services such as roads and bridges linking projects sites, provided that such services are included forming an integral part of the approved projects.

• To develop and keep up to date comprehensive water resources master plan, identifying all water resources requirements in the RBDAs area of operation through adequate collection and collation of water resources, water use, socio-economic and environmental data of the river basin.

DEPO ADENLE ============================================================ Nigerian lawmakers to probe water resources ministry, agencies Premium Times, July 17, 2013 The lawmakers will also probe the River Basin Development Authorities. The House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts said it would probe the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the River Basin Development Authorities over alleged misuse of public funds. The Chairman of the committee, Solomon Adeola, announced this in Abuja on Wednesday at a meeting with the officials of the ministry of and managing directors of the river basins. He said the ministry and its agencies had refused to appear before the committee to answer queries raised against them by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation. Mr. Adeola expressed displeasure over the manner the basin authorities were administered over the years. He said the probe, which would be in form of a public hearing, would be transmitted live on television stations across the country. “It will give the managing directors the opportunity to speak to Nigerians on how funds allocated to them were administered’’, he said. Mr. Adeola explained that the action became necessary following the refusal of the agencies to honour several invitations of the committee.

Causes of the Failure of Water Supply Donor Projects in Africa especially in Nigeria.

Causes of the Failure of Water Supply Donor Projects in Africa especially in Nigeria

 I define “enabling environment” for success of donor projects as availability of constant and stable power supply, and in the absence of this, readily available fuel at affordable price and the absence of corruption. On the other hand, “a poor enabling environment” would mean erratic power supply, frequent fuel shortage as well as expensive fuel and corruption.

 The quote from the Reuters article below: “In one case in Nigeria, boreholes and pumps relied on an unreliable electricity grid, with diesel generators installed as back-ups. But the high cost of diesel meant that the back-ups were largely unused and towns returned to using unsafe sources of water” is an apt summary of why donor projects fail in most African countries.

 I wonder if there is any alternative that is open to donors as far as having cost effective boreholes without having to resort to solar power for their water supply projects.



EU falls short on Africa water projects

REUTERS, September 28 2012
By Ethan Bilby

Brussels – More than half of the European Union’s projects to provide safe drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa failed to deliver, the EU’s audit watchdog said in a report on Friday.

The report by the European Court of Auditors examined 23 projects co-funded by the EU in six African countries between 2001 and 2010. The audit found that the projects, at a total cost of 400 million euros ($514 million), often lacked sufficient supervision and that checks were not always carried out to ensure that water was fit for human consumption.

The authors said that while equipment was usually installed properly, local communities did not receive enough support to manage the projects long term.

“Fewer than half of the projects examined delivered results meeting the beneficiaries’ needs,” the auditors said in a 43-page report.

In one case in Nigeria, boreholes and pumps relied on an unreliable electricity grid, with diesel generators installed as back-ups. But the high cost of diesel meant that the back-ups were largely unused and towns returned to using unsafe sources of water.

A British member of the European Parliament, Nirj Deva, said: “In these tough economic times it is vital that every pound we spend on foreign aid goes to the right place and achieves the right result. We can’t go on spraying around taxpayers’ cash willy-nilly with no proper regard for the eventual outcome and for value for money.”

In a statement, the European Commission, the EU’s executive, disputed some of the auditor’s findings but acknowledged that the projects could have been run better in some cases.

“There is no room for complacency and there is always a need for improvement,” Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said.

“I want to reconfirm the EU’s strong commitment to making sure that everyone, no matter where they live, has access to clean, safe water and sanitation.”

A spokeswoman said that the Commission had improved monitoring of the projects since 2005 and that most of the projects examined in the report were started before reforms were introduced.

“This type of regular checking really proves that EU aid is under control and we are in constant communication with the authorities,” said Catherine Ray, the Commission’s spokeswoman on development issues.

Improving access to drinking water and sanitation are important steps in achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals – a series of eight challenges to increase health and reduce poverty in the developing world by 2015.

One of the aims is for the number of people without safe drinking water and sanitation to be reduced by half from 1990 levels.

The EU spent 1.01 billion euros ($1.3 billion) on water and sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa from 2001 to 2010, but the World Bank and the United Nations say that between $8 billion and $11.8 billion would be required each year until 2015 to reach the millennium goal on water and sanitation. – Reuters

Rain Water Harvesting and Life skills Development: Acton Students Show the Way

The article below was sent to me by one of the readers of this blog. It is a short article but contains several lessons which include water conservation, better use of students’ time, life skills development, and last but not the least, how our young ones can acquire tools of good citizenship.

The term rain water butt used in the article means “a water tank used to collect and store rain water runoff.”  M. K. C. Sridhar, A. O. Coker and S. A. Adegbuyi (2001) note that rain water harvesting has become a world-wide practice to meet the increasing demand for fresh water. According to them, in Nigeria it is widely practiced mostly in the southern part as the rainfall is widespread for over 8 months a year with mean intensity of 180 to 225 cm. Rain water harvesting is practised at individual level, household level, community level and occasionally at Local or State government level to augment the dwindling water supplies to urban centers. Their study describes the magnitude of rain water harvesting in selected communities in peri-urban areas obtained from a house to house survey, their behavioural practices in harvesting, storage and usage of the rain water, the quality of such waters and design of a sustainable system in one of the study areas.

It would be interesting to find out where rain water harvesting has been practiced at state level in Nigeria. In a study carried out by this blogger in March 2005 for WaterAid, it was discovered that at Obijago, a community of 1,371 people in Obi Local Government Area of Benue State, rain water harvesting was practiced using 8 concrete tanks. Considering the population of this community this blogger noted at the time that household rain water harvesting is also necessary in this community to supplement the effort of the local government.

Acton students’ novel way to harness the rain

Jul 25 2012 By Jane Harrison

WEEKS of rain may have got us down, but pupils at Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls have launched a project to conserve some of that water.

Girls at the school in Queens Drive, Acton, built a rain capture system, a large underground tank and a channel to run off the water from the geodesic dome they built earlier this year as an outdoor extension for the school.

They dug a channel, laid bricks and made concrete so they could pump the water, powered by a solar panel, to the nearby plants. The project, which uses maths, plumbing and steel-cutting skills, to name a few, is designed to help them work together and build life skills.

Teacher and specialist co-ordinator Mike Heyes said the girls were helped with the project by Darcy illiamson, who works on water management projects in India. He said the summer’s regular downpours would help the project, but had hindered their work to set it up.

He said: “We first planned this during the winter but hadn’t a clue the summer would be this bad so it is very muddy, but when it’s finished we can harness all this rain.

“At the time ground water levels were dropping across the country so we decided to do this to address the water loss. It’s really a grand version of a water butt at the end of your drainpipe.

“The girls have needed maths for things like working out the volume of the soil, they have learned how to how to mix cement and concrete, brick-laying and how to use silicone to make it water-tight, even
cutting steel.”

Fifteen girls are working on the project, which according to their maths teacher Hetal Patel, they are thoroughly enjoying.

She said: “They have been really keen and matured working as a team. If they want to go into engineering they now know what is involved. They have also surprised themselves becoming more confident about what they can do. It has been especially good for the quieter ones.”

Two of the pupils, Danielle Barbosa and Sivatharsini Sennappan, both 15, said they are revelling the challenge. Danielle, from West Acton, said: “I thought it was more of a man’s job and thought I couldn’t do it, but it’s fun. Some things have been useful like applying the maths.”

Sivatharsini, from Perivale, said: “I like this kind of thing, so I was really up for it, although my arms ache now. It has been good experience.”

Postscript: Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls is  in the U.K.