Category Archives: Water Sector Reform

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.

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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

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Congressional Black Caucus Against Lagos Water Privatisation

On February 27, 2015 this blog raised similar concern about the issue of privatizing Lagos State water supply as shown in the link:

https://weircentreforafrica.com/2015/02/27/privatisation-of-water-supply-in-developing-economies-lagos-state-case/

 

Congressional Black Caucus Against Lagos Water Privatisation

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has expressed worry over the planned privatisation of water in Lagos in a letter signed by 23 of its members.
The members, represent half of the CBC, said the disproportionately harmful effect water privatization schemes, including public-private partnerships, have on people of color around the world, with signers pointing specifically to efforts to privatize water in Lagos, where the World Bank has pushed privatisation as a solution despite its abysmal track record.
The letter cites two US examples, Detroit and Baltimore. By prioritizing revenue over access, much as a private utility would, the cities have raised rates and forced the shut off of water access for tens of thousands, drawing the concern of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water.
As part of a global movement to oppose corporate control of water, spanning from Jakarta to St. Louis, Baltimore recently avoided potentially perilous contract with global private water corporation Veolia. Detroit Representative John Conyers, Jr. led the signers with Rep. Karen Bass, ranking member of the Africa subcommittee. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, the Democratic co-chair of the Nigeria Caucus, and Reps. Maxine Waters and Emanuel Cleaver, two former CBC chairs, are also among the influential signers.
In the US, from Detroit to Baltimore, aggressive collections policies are curtailing people’s access to water, disproportionately affecting communities of color as the letter’s signers note. In Lagos the World Bank has lobbied for decades to privatise water systems.
In 2012, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the private investment arm of the World Bank, held a conference in Senegal to persuade African leaders to privatise their water systems. The conference featured Manila, Philippines as a model for replication, despite that project’s record of massive rate hikes, quality concerns, and communities with severely limited access. International arbitration recently found that major pieces of the Manila deal violate Philippines law.
The letter read in part: “We wish to express our solidarity with the people of Lagos, of Detroit, and of cities around the world as they raise their voices in support of public water, participatory governance, and universal access..Water is a fundamental building block upon which individual and collective economic prosperity relies..When people cannot access or afford clean water, the impact on their health and livelihoods is devastating” … “and these circumstances force families to make painful economic choices.”
Meanwhile the Environmental Rights Action /Friends of the Earth Nigeria(ERA/FoEN) has commended the CBC for its letter of solidarity with Lagos residents and people in the global struggle to access clean,safe drinking water, describing the action as “timely” in halting the planned privatisation of water in Lagos.
ERA/FoEN Director, Corporate Accountability & Administration, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “The solidarity letter from the CBC is an encouragement for anti-privatisation groups to scale up our campaign against policies that prioritise profits over rights. We expect the Lagos State government to halt the privatization plans and instead defend the rights of the vast majority of Lagos residents that water privatization will disenfranchise.”
Oluwafemi, who recently visited CBC offices to seek support for the campaign against water privatisation in Lagos promoted by the Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC), thanked members of the caucus for supporting the campaign by Lagosians to defend their right to a free gift of nature.
ERA/FoEN and a coalition of labor , human rights and environmental groups have taken to the streets, creating enough pressure that water privatization was a central issue in the recent elections.
Supporting the move, Shayda Naficy, Challenge Corporate Control of Water campaign director at Corporate Accountability International said:” Around the globe, the human right to water is under threat and people of color are disproportionately affected,” said “Whether it’s the World Bank or Detroit City hall, this fundamental right must be upheld. The best way to do that is to keep water systems democratically accountable and in public hands.”
The CBC members learned recently that the coalition of Lagosians, in the face of this relentless lobbying from the World Bank, have raised the visibility of the plans and organized to stop it in its tracks. The campaign has engaged directly with candidates and elected officials on the issue, and marched through the streets of Lagos, but privatization remains a risk. The group’s most recent visit to Washington, DC made clear to members of Congress that what threatens water in Lagos threatens the water of people across the U.S. as well.
Congressional co-signers of the letter include Alma Adams(D-NC), Karen Bass (D-CA), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Donna Edwards(D-MD), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX),Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Robert Rush (D-IL), Marc Veasey (D-TX),Maxine Waters (D-CA), Frederica Wilson (D-FL).

 

Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission (LSWRC)

Lagos State should be commended on  the progress it has made in the area of water sector reform, part of which is the establishment of the State’s Water Regulatory Commission (LSWRC). It was established as part of the reform measures aimed at meeting the challenges of water services delivery in the State.

As indicated in the U-tube video produced by the Commission the  LSWRC is the first of its kind in Nigeria, third in West Africa after Ghana and Senegal.

The video gives information on the estimated quantity of water needed in Lagos State. It gives expected per capita consumption as 135 litres and information about the population of the State as 21 million.

The Governor of the State notes that the State intends to meet the State’s water demand by the year 2020 on the basis of its development plans.

The commission covers the following:

  • Tariff policy and tariff setting guidelines;
  • Tankers services guidelines;
  • The quality of services guidelines;
  • Complaint handling guidelines;
  • etc.

For more information on the Commission visit: www.lagoswaterreg.org.ng

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