Category Archives: water supply

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

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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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Update on Privatization of water supply in Lagos State

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/). That was in 2015, when Lagos State sort of took some kind of time out on the issue. 

Apparently the State is about to reopen the issue of privatization and a civil society group has come alerted the citizens of the state by raising the necessary red flag as shown below.

DEPO ADENLE.

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Lagos Water Privatization: Group urges Ambode to halt secret concession of water infrastructure

by Ben Ezeamalu, Premium Times, April 19

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) has urged Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to halt  his ongoing concession of water infrastructure in the state.

Akinbode Oluwafemi, a deputy Director at ERA/FoEN, said the governor should declare his stance on the controversial Public Private Partnership of the water sector.

“As we have said time and again, the failure of the Lagos State government to open up on the controversial water PPP gives room for us to suspect that something is in the offing and the people are deliberately being kept in the dark,” said Mr. Oluwafemi.

“We cannot stop demanding that the rights of Lagos citizens to a free gift of nature must not be subject to the dictates of privatizers whose only interest is profit.

“Worse is the fact that the Lagos State government is toying with a failed model of PPP that the World Bank private arm – International Finance Corporation  (IFC) advised it to embark upon even with documented failures in Manila and Nagpur, in the Philippines and India respectively.”

The group also accused the Lagos State government of failing to take a clear stance on the controversy surrounding the PPP advisory contract that the World Bank was forced to cancel last year, following pressures by labour and civil society.

“At a rally organised in March 17, 2016 by the Africa Water Hygiene and Sanitation Network (AWWWASHNET) in Lagos, Permanent Secretary, Mr Biodun Bamgboye debunked the PPP plans saying the Governor had no plans to privatise water,” Mr. Oluwafemi said.

“Suprisingly, Governor Ambode was quoted as saying PPP was the way to go just two days after.

Threats of underground water pollution imminent in Nigeria?

The title of the article below which was published in the Daily Trust of August 26, 2015 and written by Alex Abutu based on what Mr. Michael Ale, AWDROP National President told Daily Trust, sounds alarmist as its scope is very limited compared to its content.
Groundwater pollution in Nigeria cannot and should not be mainly ascribed to the activities of foreign borehole drilling companies. It is due to a number of causes – poor borehole design by incompetent drilling companies, point-source and non-point-source pollution, unregulated waste disposal practices, unscientific design and siting of sanitary landfills, improper decommissioning of non-productive or failed boreholes, unsupervised drilling activities of oil prospecting companies, etc. to mention A few. fairly detailed summary is contained in the table provided by Canter(1981) which lists 3 major sources of groundwater pollution – Waste disposal sources, Nondisposal sources and Depletion. Please click below for the  table on major sources of Groundwater Pollution.

Major Sources of Groundwater Pollution
Major Sources of Groundwater Pollution
The article focuses on the following:
• “large format equipment which is inimical to our environment”;
• Drilling of large number of boreholes;
• Poor design of boreholes that allow infiltration of overburden water into the aquifer through the screening of the overburden casing without appropriate grouting;
• Foreign drillers operating without license;
• Too many boreholes and well interference.
These are sweeping statements which are difficult to substantiate, for example, that using large equipment is unfavorable, detrimental or adverse to our environment in Nigeria. Furthermore, drilling many boreholes per day, if scientifically located and properly designed and supervised should not cause any problem with respect to well interference or pollution.
Currently, the National Water Law has not been enacted. However, in Part X of the draft National Water Resources Act of 2011, reference is made to the Code of the Regulation of Domestic Boreholes which was developed by the National Water Resources Institute (NWRI) and the Ministry. This Code’s section 4 is on Legal Consideration.
Section 4.1 is on Drilling Permit which states “No well shall be constructed unless the owner is in possession of a valid permit to do so … Permit shall be given by relevant Agencies designated by the Minister of Water Resources.” This is fine but has no legal backing until the Water Resources Act is enacted.
Section 4.2 of the Code is on Water Well Driller’s License: Section 4.2a states “A water well driller’s license shall be obtained from NWRI on application. Section 4.2b states “No person shall construct a well for the abstraction or monitoring of groundwater or for research if the person does not have a driller’s license granted in accordance with the provisions of this code. The requirements of the driller’s license shall be applicable to any person, company, corporation, or other entity engaged in the business or occupation that involves construction of water wells that may penetrate water-bearing strata (including constructing water wells, geothermal systems and environmental monitoring wells.”
Section 4.2.1.1.1 gives an exemption to the stipulation of the Code as stated above. As mentioned earlier, the National Water Resources Act is yet to be enacted, the Code is part of the Act, consequently the alarm raised by the article concerning foreign companies using unlicensed drillers cannot be resolved at this point in time.
Comments by DEPO ADENLE.
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Threats of underground water pollution imminent
By Alex Abutu , Daily Trust, Aug 26 2015

FemaleDriller
A lady driller supervising a borehole drilling recently.
Nigeria is facing an imminent danger of underground water pollution if the activities of foreigners drilling companies are left unchecked, the Association of Water Well Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners has alerted.
The association said at the rate the foreign companies, mostly from Asia, are operating, the nation may run out of clean drinking water in the nearest future. “Asians have infiltrated our environment with large format equipment which is inimical to our environment.”
Mr. Michael Ale, AWDROP National President, told Daily Trust that: “An average Asian drilling company operating in the country drills close to three boreholes in a day and we have about 50 of such drilling companies scattered around Nigeria with each having at least four rigs. With this calculation, an average of 400 boreholes are drilled daily and this is enormous.”
“Another major issue is the fact that the underground water is gradually being polluted by the design of drilling embarked by the Asians as most of their designs allow infiltration of overburden water into the underground aquifer through the screening of the overburden casing without appropriate grouting. We are not talking of the cheap materials used during their installation. This is sad,” Ale added.
Investigation by Daily Trust in Abuja and environs showed that there is an upsurge in the number of foreigners in the borehole drilling business.
In Masaka, a suburb near Abuja, numerous signposts advertising the foreign drilling companies abound with some engaging in promos to woo customers.
Ale noted that most of the foreign drillers are not licensed to drill, wondering who allowed them to operate in Nigeria. “Our trained drillers and experts are jobless. So the environmental, social and economic importance is being maligned by these foreigners.”
According to him, many Nigerians who drill boreholes have adequate knowledge of the terrain but the foreigners do not. “Borehole needs to last for a lifetime but conduct a search on many boreholes drilled now, it is glaring that they are affecting one another because of the approach of the drillers, many of whom are quacks that have infiltrated the industry.”
“Some people have argued that the Asians made borehole affordable to most Nigerians but is it affordability or sustainability that we should be talking about? Yes their borehole can be affordable for 2-3 years but will pack up with time. It may be affordable but the client gets contaminated water because of the drill design,” he added.
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Threats of underground water pollution imminent
By Alex Abutu , Daily Trust, Aug 26 2015
A lady driller supervising a borehole drilling recently.
Nigeria is facing an imminent danger of underground water pollution if the activities of foreigners drilling companies are left unchecked, the Association of Water Well Drilling Rig Owners and Practitioners has alerted.
The association said at the rate the foreign companies, mostly from Asia, are operating, the nation may run out of clean drinking water in the nearest future. “Asians have infiltrated our environment with large format equipment which is inimical to our environment.”
Mr. Michael Ale, AWDROP National President, told Daily Trust that: “An average Asian drilling company operating in the country drills close to three boreholes in a day and we have about 50 of such drilling companies scattered around Nigeria with each having at least four rigs. With this calculation, an average of 400 boreholes are drilled daily and this is enormous.”
“Another major issue is the fact that the underground water is gradually being polluted by the design of drilling embarked by the Asians as most of their designs allow infiltration of overburden water into the underground aquifer through the screening of the overburden casing without appropriate grouting. We are not talking of the cheap materials used during their installation. This is sad,” Ale added.
Investigation by Daily Trust in Abuja and environs showed that there is an upsurge in the number of foreigners in the borehole drilling business.
In Masaka, a suburb near Abuja, numerous signposts advertising the foreign drilling companies abound with some engaging in promos to woo customers.
Ale noted that most of the foreign drillers are not licensed to drill, wondering who allowed them to operate in Nigeria. “Our trained drillers and experts are jobless. So the environmental, social and economic importance is being maligned by these foreigners.”
According to him, many Nigerians who drill boreholes have adequate knowledge of the terrain but the foreigners do not. “Borehole needs to last for a lifetime but conduct a search on many boreholes drilled now, it is glaring that they are affecting one another because of the approach of the drillers, many of whom are quacks that have infiltrated the industry.”
“Some people have argued that the Asians made borehole affordable to most Nigerians but is it affordability or sustainability that we should be talking about? Yes their borehole can be affordable for 2-3 years but will pack up with time. It may be affordable but the client gets contaminated water because of the drill design,” he added.

Access to water through an ATM-style dispenser in Kenya: Is it possible in Nigeria?

One of the problems of Small Town and Rural Water Supply is how to collect effectively and efficiently revenue from communities for the services provided.

Sustainable rural and small town water supply depends to a large extent on the ability of Water Consumers Association, in the case of Small Town, and WASHCOM in case of rural water supply, to collect revenue for services rendered.

In the early part of 2005 this blogger was involved in a scoping study of community water supply management organized by WaterAid in Benue State. It was discovered that the facilities that were managed by WASHCOMS that collected revenues efficiently were running well compared with those that were the reverse was the case. Similar results have been observed in the European Union Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme (WSSSRP) in Nigeria.

The success recorded in Kenya slum of Mathare using ATMs should be given a trial in Nigeria.

Comment: DEPO ADENLE.
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Kenya slum Mathare gets cheap water through ATMs

BBC Report, 22 June 2015
From the section Africa

Residents of the Mathare slum area of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, are now able to access water through an ATM-style dispenser. People living in slums traditionally rely on vendors, who are expensive, or polluted sources to get drinking water. But the new system, where people use a smart card, is designed to provide cheaper and cleaner water.

The water company is opening four of these dispensers in Nairobi and there are hopes the scheme will be expanded. A version of the scheme has been used in rural areas in Kenya, but it is thought this is the first time that it will be used in an urban area.

Residents swipe the smart cards, topped up at a kiosk or through a mobile phone, at the dispenser and water starts flowing from the tap.

The Nairobi City Water and Sewerage company says it is charging half a Kenya shilling (half a US cent) for 20 litres of water. This is much cheaper than the rates being charged by the water vendors, reports the BBC’s Abdullahi Abdi in Nairobi.

The dispensers have been set up through a partnership between the local government and the Danish water engineering company Grundfos.

The company says that this public-private partnership model could be developed in other countries.

Meanwhile in another part of Nairobi residents are complaining about a water shortage.

The BBC’s Ahmed Adan in the suburb of Eastleigh says that vendors are selling water at 50 Kenya shillings for 20 litres – 100 times the price at the new water dispensing machines.

Having clean drinking water is one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and it is thought that worldwide more than 700 million people still do not have access to it.

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).

 

Privatisation of Water Supply in Developing Economies: Lagos State Case

It is common practice in most developing economies to withhold information from stakeholders during periods of reform even when there are no ulterior motives. This practice usually puts ideas of corruption or unsavory intentions that may enrich the public servants and or politicians  involved in the reform  aimed at better services delivery.

Corruption has been the bane of governments’ efforts in improving water supply service delivery in Nigeria. Politicians often see Water Corporations or Boards as ready made institutions where public funds can be easily siphoned without the public being aware. This is why one finds a Water Corporation purchasing 25-year supply of alum and large supplies other chemicals that have limited shelve lives.

The article below from Premium Times captures the main reason behind the failure of Lagos State Water Corporation/IFC in their bid to privatize Lagos State Water supply — “And this advisory contract is undisclosed by both the World Bank and the Lagos government, and both the privatization the IFC is designing and the advisory contract itself are being carried out in secrecy, without public participation and input from Lagosian stakeholders.
“This lack of transparency leaves residents with very little information about important developments that will affect them directly.”

Comments by DEPO ADENLE

How Civil Society helped block secret plot by Lagos Govt., World Bank to privatise water
February 19, 2015Ben Ezeamalu

The announcement sent a collective sigh of relief to the water corporation staff and civil society activists. After months of negotiation on how to privatize the water supply in Lagos, between the World Bank and the Lagos Water Corporation, the bank has called off the talks.
But before the bank’s decision, activists and civil servants had mounted pressure on the water company against such a move, which they said would raise the cost of having access to water beyond the reach of ordinary Lagosians.
The Corporation’s staff, who stood to lose their jobs, went a step further to threaten to do “everything to frustrate” the move.
Last month, the World Bank issued a statement announcing a breakdown in talks between its International Finance Corporation and the Lagos Water Corporation.
“Contrary to recent reports, IFC has not signed any agreement with the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC),” the bank said in the statement. “LWC expressed interest in working with IFC and we had a number of discussions on how we might be able to assist the company. In the end, IFC decided not to advise LWC. We continue to support the government and people of Nigeria in achieving their development goals.”
Shrouded in secrecy
The latest round of negotiations between the bank and the LWC to design a water privatization scheme in the state began 18 months ago.
With public outcry on the danger of such a move, the LWC maintained that it was not going into privatization, just discussions on how to optimize water supply to Lagosians.
But details of their negotiations were kept away from the public, including civil society groups who had pushed for information disclosure.
In October last year, a rights advocacy group, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), said it made attempts to obtain information relating to the negotiation but continually met brick walls.
“Despite the World Bank’s 60-day disclosure policy, the Lagos contract had not been disclosed on the bank’s website and had been hidden from civil society,” said Akinbode Oluwafemi, Director of Corporate Accountability, ERA/FoEN.
With pressure from Nigerian groups, hundreds of other civil society bodies and activists across the United States began calling and sending out messages to the World Bank demanding full disclosure of the project.
“Our investigations indicate that the IFC is currently being paid by the Lagos government as an official advisor to develop a plan for the city’s water privatization,” Mr. Oluwafemi said.
“And this advisory contract is undisclosed by both the World Bank and the Lagos government, and both the privatization the IFC is designing and the advisory contract itself are being carried out in secrecy, without public participation and input from Lagosian stakeholders.
“This lack of transparency leaves residents with very little information about important developments that will affect them directly.
In December, a PREMIUM TIMES’ Freedom of Information request for details of the negotiations with the World Bank also met a brick wall. An official at the LWC headquarters at Ijora declined to answer questions put to him and promised to e-mail answers or arrange an interview with the Group Managing Director, Shayo Holloway.
He did neither.
Lagos State has two major waterworks at Iju and Adiyan, providing a combined supply of 115 Million Gallons Per Day for the 20 million residents, according to information on LWC’s website.
Expansion of other waterworks – micro and mini waterworks – spread across the state has been ongoing for years, and provision of tap water is still limited to a fraction of the population.
The corporation says its current installed capacity is 210 million gallons per day, whereas the actual water demand in Lagos is 540 million gallons per day.
Most residents solve their water needs through self-help, patronizing water vendors, digging wells, or sinking boreholes in their homes.
No Privatization Plans
Before the World Bank announced its decision to shelve talks with Lagos State government, the LWC management had continued to insist that it had no plans to privatize the corporation.
Mr. Holloway said, in a statement December, that the Lagos State government was only trying to partner with the private sector “in a bid to increase water supply and alleviate poverty”.
“According to Engr. Holloway, PPP (Public Private Partnership) is not Privatization. Privatization involves the sale of government-owned asset to private investors, while PPP involves fresh injection of private capital into the efficient management of government-owned assets,” said the statement published on the corporation’s website.
“In order to meet the demand gap as well as the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) 2015, LWC has developed a Lagos Water Supply Master Plan (2010 – 2020) which outlines the infrastructure development programmes into short, medium and long term phases.
“By year 2020, water demand is expected to be 733 million gallons per day, while the water production will be 745 million gallons per day, leaving us with the excess of 12 million gallons per day. The need to bridge the gap has necessitated the involvement of the private sector by way of injecting more capital to improve efficiency of existing state-owned assets.”
The LWC refused to make public the nature of its partnership with the “private sector.”
But according to information obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, the water corporation’s plans involved a concession of the state-owned major water works to private investors who would produce water and sell to the government. And the government would then sell to the final consumer.
Dissatisfied workers
On December 17, the corporation’s workers’ union, the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees, AUCPTRE, held a meeting with the management where they aired their disagreement with the planned “partnership”.
Tomiwa Odusanwo, the chairman, AUCPTRE branch of LWC, insisted that the management was planning to privatize the corporation.
“You cannot know my management beyond me,” Mr. Odusanwo told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview in January.
“We were not carried along. The funny thing is that we heard it over the news, read it in newspapers, and because we have seen how it was recorded in other African countries, even in western world.”
“The Iju and Adiyan water works are going to be in concession as well. There are some foreign investors now, in their master plan for 2010-2020, that those investors will use their money and construct mini water works.”
At a workers’ meeting at the LWC headquarters in Ijora, Mr. Odusanwo and his colleagues were unanimous that they won’t go the way of the staff of the recently privatized Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, who protested for months over the non-payment of their severance benefits.
“The management of Water Corporation, presently, are after capital projects. They are not after welfare of the staff or anything that will benefit the staff. That is why we are saying no to that privatization,” said Mr. Odusanwo.
“Because presently now the corporation is owing pension, gratuity, plus pension to PENCOM close to N1 billion. As I speak to you now our deducted pension was not remitted adequately to our PFA (Pension Fund Administrator).
“The corporation is indebted seriously. So with privatization, many of us will be laid off without going home with a penny and that will be so disastrous for us.”
The involvement of the World Bank and its investment arm – the IFC- in water schemes across the world has not exactly been a success story.
Recently, many cities that, in expectation of availability of affordable potable water, signed a two decade or longer water concessions with private investors, have terminated the contracts and returned their water systems to the state.
According to Transnational Institute, an organization that studies global needs, 180 communities and cities across the globe, from Accra to Kuala Lumpur, have returned water provision to public control in the past ten years.
In January, the IFC announced it had no ongoing water concession projects in Africa, after about 30 per cent of its water investment in Africa over the past two decades resulted into a failure.
“Like in Manila, in Ghana, World Bank corporate partners attempted to privatize and profit from water,” said Mr. Oluwafemi.
“Poor service, limited access and chronic quality problems forced the Ghanaian government not to renew a bank-backed contract for a private corporation to manage the country’s water.
“Around the world, the IFC advises governments, conducts corporate bidding processes, designs complex and lopsided water privatization contracts, dictates arbitration terms, and is part-owner of water corporations that win the contracts it designs and recommends, all the while aggressively marketing the model to be replicated around the world.
“Not only do these activities undermine democratic water governance, but they constitute an inherent conflict of interest within the IFC’s activities in the water sector, an alarming pattern seen from Eastern Europe to India to Southeast Asia.”
In Lagos, commercial sale of water by individuals is big business, with a 20-litre jerry can selling for N20 in most areas in the metropolis.
However, the cost of the water provided by the LWC comes at a cheaper rate, depending on the location.
In Dolphin Estate, Victoria Island, for instance, a flat pays a monthly rate of N800 for water while a duplex is billed N2, 400.
Water rates on the mainland costs even cheaper.
In Surulere for instance, a flat is charged N500, while a duplex is N800 monthly. At the Ojota axis, where there are a lot of single room apartments (popularly known as ‘Face-me-I-Face-You), a room is N100. A flat is N500, and a duplex N800.
According to civil society groups, water privatization negates the 2010 United Nations recognition of water as a fundamental human right.
“If the IFC was successful in securing a large-scale water PPP in Lagos, it would mirror that of the electricity sector privatization, which has imposed sky-rocketing electricity bills without delivering improved service,” Mr. Oluwafemi said.
“The IFC’s track record in the water sector is frightening: prices sky rocket, utility workers lose their jobs, water quality suffers, low-income communities have their water shut off, governments incur devastating debt, and public sovereignty is threatened by undemocratic arbitration.
“Privatization is not the solution for Lagos: it leads to corporate profits and has never provided universal access.
Additionally, if the IFC deal (had sailed) through, it would have opened the doors for several contracts for water corporations to take over the water system, and bidding by 2015.”

Cholera in Nigeria: an update

Towards the end of last year, this blog carried an essay on cholera and wondered whether October should be referred to as cholera month in Nigeria.

Below are updates by two institutions – Weekly Trust and UNICEF.

The causes given for the outbreak have been adduced in previous in both learned and general publications. Yet the situation is not improving from year to year. What should the three tiers of government do? If we cannot control cholera, God help us if there is Ebola outbreak.

DEPO ADENLE.

Cholera Ravages Nigeria

by Ruby Leo, Lami Sadiq & Onimi Alao, Abubakar Auwal, Isa Liman & Ahmed Mohammed, Bauchi, Weekly Trust, Nigeria, Saturday, 12 April 2014

… kills over 100 since January A new wave of cholera epidemic blowing across the country may have claimed hundreds of lives since January and does not seem to be abating anytime soon with the onset of the rainy season, Weekly Trust findings reveal.

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed an outbreak of the infectious disease in 14 states, where it said 9,006 cases were reported, with 106 deaths in the first quarter of 2014, adding that the situation was not this critical last year. But state health officials say the casualty figures for the last three months could be much higher as some deaths that happened outside health facilities, which are many, are not officially reported, while many others do not even know the cause of death.

Cholera, according to experts, is an acute infectious disease caused by a bacterium, Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae) which results in painless diarrhea (the main symptoms are watery stool and vomiting); and infection in most cases comes primarily from drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person, including one with no apparent symptoms.

The NCDC report shows that Bauchi, where 6,910 cases were reported with 48 deaths, is the worst hit of the 14 states; Kano had 1,270 cases with 16 deaths, while three of the 28 cases in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) ended in fatalities.In Kaduna State, 350 cases were recorded with 19 deaths, while four died from the 97 cases reported in Benue, six died in Taraba from the 190 cases reported and six again in Ebonyi from 16 recorded cases. The NCDC report said the lot of the country turned for the worst in the 12th week.

Between weeks 1 and 12 of 2014, 9,006 cholera cases with 81 lab-confirmed and 106 deaths from 58 local government areas (13 States and FCT) were reported. But Bauchi State Commissioner for health, Dr. Abubakar Sani Malami, told a news brief on Thrusday that 59 people died of cholera in the state in the last three months. He said 54 of them died in their homes and five in hospital. “The state recorded a high casualty figure because some of the victims were treating themselves at home,” he said.

Local health workers and Medicine San-Frontiers (MSF) told Weekly Trust in Zamfara that over 1,117 cholera cases were reported in at least five local government areas of the state within two weeks. These are Gusau, Durumi, Gukkuyum, Sakura and Maradu. At least 72 of the victims died of the infection, not including those who gave up the ghost before they could get medical help, local officials said. But reports by MSF indicate that the death toll from the epidemic could be as high as 350 people in Zamfara alone.

Hospital sources said about 90 fresh cases were reported at the Shagari Primary Health Care Center among other health facilities in the state this week alone. Many more are being expected. Balira Bello, who is receiving treatment at the Shagari facility, blamed her infection on the unavailability of clean drinking water to the people in the Birnin Ruwa area of Gusau, the state capital. Two other residents, Balkisu Mamman and Shafa’atu Garba, said they fetch their drinking water from broken pipes which usually pass through unsanitary environments.

One of the worst hit communities in Plateau State is Anguwan Yashi, in Namu area of Qua’an Pan Local Government Area, which recently saw the influx of thousands of refugees from neighbouring Nasarawa State fleeing from communal crisis, putting pressure on the only source of drinking water and other facilities in the village. The Plateau State government has confirmed that 11 people died of cholera while the community puts the casualty figure at more than 30. None could, however, dispute that over 100 people had been infected and treated from the disease. The district head of Namu, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq, said mortality numbers have been down-played, adding that most of those killed by the scourge were women nursing their children. “Both indigenes of the village and the displaced have been affected because we now live together. And I can count over 10 of the indigenes that have died from this disease, including my brother’s wife, my neighbour and her daughter,” said Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq, the district head of Namu.

Others like 21-year-old Jane Botof in Rukuba, Bassa local government area were luckier. She suddenly took ill; vomiting and stooling. “What could this be?” her mother, Lilian Bot, wondered aloud; and driven by a growing panic, bundled her daughter into a commercial tricycle and was off to the nearest clinic. Thus, Jane’s was one of the 28 reported cases in the area last week. Three of the victims, one of them a pregnant woman, died chiefly because they got to the hospital late.

Cholera outbreaks were reported in several other parts of the state with no official records of cases, sometimes due to the remote nature of such locations or just because of the lackadaisical attitude of the people to health issues. At least two local areas of Sokoto State have experienced an outbreak of cholera this year, Tambuwal and kebbe, where scores of people have died of infection, investigations by Weekly Trust revealed. But the state government said only 13 out of the 152 cases reported there ended in fatalities. In Barkeji alone, a village located along Sokoto-Jega road in Tambuwal local government area where the disease was said to have first surfaced, 31 cases and five deaths were recorded between October 10 and October 21, officials said. In kebbe local government area, about 20 kilometres from Tambuwal, the disease resurfaced in six riverine communites, including Bakin Dutse, Tuna, ‘Yar-Romo, Nabasa, Fakku and Bashi, with eight deaths out of 121 cases reported.

Scores of people in Kano metropolis are now bedridden and agonizing as a result of the sudden outbreak of cholera in some parts of the state. The cholera epidemic struck the communities 10 days ago and has so far claimed the lives of over 12 persons.

In Lagos state cholera outbreak in five local government areas has so far claimed at least three persons, while scores of victims were treated and discharged, state commissioner for health, Dr. Jide Idris, said. “Although, many of the cases have been treated and discharged in several health facilities, three have been confirmed dead. Most of the suspected cases are from Ajeromi, Apapa, Lagos Island, Oshodi_Isolo and Surulere local government areas,” Idris said.

Health officials say cholera can be easily prevented by washing of hands frequently with soap and water for at least 15 seconds especially before handling food and after using the toilet; drinking and cooking with safe water that has been boiled and disinfected and avoiding eating raw food, taking food that is completely cooked and hot and avoiding improperly cooked seafood or meat, among other measures. “Especially in this period of the early onset of rain, a clean environment and lifestyle is key against cholera infection,” Plateau state epidemiologist, Dr. Raymond Juryit advised, adding that when cholera occurs, what determines safety of life is not seeking treatment in the wrong quarters, such as a chemist or arriving hospital late, but arriving hospital as quickly as when its symptoms manifest.

NCDC project manager, Prof. Abdulsalami Nasidi, said the federal government has deployed Rapid Response Teams to affected states to help contain the outbreak. He explained that drugs are being distributed to states to cushion the effects of the disease while chlorine powder has been also distributed to treat well water.

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UNICEF Nigeria Cholera Situation Report – 10 February 2014
Highlights
• As of 31 January 2014, 855 cholera cases (17 lab confirmed) and 20 deaths (Case Fatality Rate 3.3%) were reported from 28 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in 9 States. During the same period in 2013, no cases or deaths were reported.
• In the last three weeks an upward trend of cases has been observed compared to the same period in 2012 and 2013.
• In week four, 288 cases and 10 deaths were reported in four LGAs from Bauchi, Ebonyi, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Kano States. The majority of these cases, representing 79.5% (237/298), were reported in Bauchi from Bauchi LGA.
• In the on-going dry season, water sources have been stretched, contributing to the already low access to water and sanition. Only 58% of Nigeria’s population has access to water and sanitation, which poses a high risk for the spread of cholera cases to states which have not previously reported any cases (Fedral Ministry of Water Resources).
• No cases of cholera have been reported in Borno and Yobe so far this year, however during week one, Adamawa state reported one case. The risk of cholera outbreak in these states remains high given their precarious humanitarian situation (a State of Emergency has been declared in these areas). UNICEF and partners continue to support the government to strengthen coordination at State and LGA level, and intensify communication to raise awareness.