Tag Archives: water and sanitation services delivery

Corruption in the water sector makes access to potable water and sanitation a moving target in Nigeria, Continued

by Depo Adenle

 Below is my response to issues raised in Mr. Hanidu’s comments used on Monday, October 3, 2011:

What I reported happened around 2001. I was at the Gombe office of one of the external donors. What happened was due to poor coordination between Federal and State Governments/external donors. The external donor was assisting the state in rural water supply and sanitation. The representative of the external donor was baffled about what happened and that was why he shared the information with me. If there had been proper coordination, what the FGN contractor did would have been avoided.

However, I want to give you an example of the fraud that goes on in FGN projects. The picture I am offering here was taken around June 2011 at Bembe village between Gbongan and Orile Owu, Osun State. I saw a sight that was profound, albeit very strange:  a woman was drawing water from a hand-dug well just outside the fence of a Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) borehole!  I asked the woman why she was not drawing water from the taps provided next to the fence of the borehole but she responded that it had never worked.

What baffled me was that a huge overhead tank was provided along with the generator house which can be seen in the picture below. This water scheme must have been commissioned with a lot of fanfare and a silent rural community was deceived and then left without water. The villagers told me that the project was commissioned during Obasanjo era.

FGN Rural Borehole at Bembe village near Orile Owu, Osun State, Nigeria. Picture Credit: Depo Adenle, 6/2011.

I heard that in some states on state water projects, civil servants collect N15,000.00 to look the other way instead of insisting on proper pumping tests for rural water supply boreholes. I do not know whether something similar had happened in the case of Bembe village.

As it is in case of journalists, I cannot give the name of the State that stockpiled chlorine but that illustration is just to show the level of waste that has its root in corrupt practices.

As for the ever- increasing population, it is not what will make the MDG goals shifting targets. The challenges posed by corruption are huge. Planning for projected growth in population is certainly a must for developing countries. Is it not true that we usually wait until any situation reaches crisis level before we act? When you set a goal you must plan to meet such goals.

It is no use making laws that will not be enforced. There are plenty of statutes in our Penal Code to deal with thieving politicians but these are never applied. No politician in Nigeria has ever been recalled. Until Nigeria has its own Spring of Awakening:  rallies of discontent as in the Middle East, we are not going anywhere with respect to fighting corruption.


by Depo Adenle, Ph.D. (Hydrogeology)


[Being Lead Paper on Institutional Issues at the First National Water & Sanitation Forum, 29 August – 1st September, 2006.]

This was a Power Point Presentation changed to a word document without alterations to the content.

Since this paper was presented, there have been changes in the Water Supply and Sanitation Institutional Landscape.  For example, some of the departments in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources have become Agencies.  The Nigerian Integrated Management Commission was nonexistent, and there have been progress in reforming the Sector through the assistance of Donor Agencies.



Outline of Presentation:

•          Introduction – Background statement on WSS institutions (definitions), the linkages between WSS Stds. & economic development vis-à-vis MDGs.

•          Institutional Aspects in WSS in Nigeria.

•          Critical review of WSS institutional issues in relation to attainment of MDGs in Nigeria in terms of coverage, access, policy, framework and strategies

•          key institutional issues in WSS service delivery vis-à-vis attainment of the MDGs:

–        How do they affect coverage and access?

–        How are these institutional issues reflected/addressed in policies and policy reforms on WSS and in the institutional framework?

–        How are they reflected/addressed in strategies to improve WSS delivery & Attainment of MDGs? And

–        How are they considered in the requirements for the attainment of MDGs?

•          What are being done:  What initiatives are being taken by all actors.

•          What needs to be done : The Way forward

Background Statement (Institutions & MDGs):

•          Definition of institutionsWebster’s New World Collegiate Dictionary – organisations, working rules or establishments founded for a specific purpose of public interest based on an accepted custom, law or relationship in a society or community.

•          Laws upon which the governmental organisations are based – FG Laws or Decrees; State Laws/Edicts; LG Bye-Laws, etc.

•          Paper will therefore focus on organisations, their mandates as stipulated by laws or customs, etc.

•          WSS Linkages to economic development – Direct correlation between poor WSS Stds. & decline in indicators in health, education & productivity (low enrollment in schools, especially of girls, etc.); Hence link between poor WSS stds. and poverty.

•          MDG Goal 7 target: Reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

Institutional Aspects of WSS:

•          Three levels of govt. share responsibility for delivery of WSS services – Federal Govt.; State Govt.; Local Govt. + a fourth level – the community

•          Three levels of govt. are responsible for delivery of sanitation services – Federal, State and LG.

•          Among other issues the paper will focus on the following:

–        Which are the institutional issues that are essential to improving WSS service delivery with respect to coverage and access that need to be addressed, that need to be considered in WSS Policy, institutional framework and strategies for the attainment of MDGs?

–        What are the current policy issues on institutions in the FMWR’s NWSSP of 2000, the National Water Policy, the proposed National Water Sanitation Policy; FMENV’s National Environmental Sanitation Policy of 2005?

Review Of Current Institutional Issues In WSS:

•          General Issues

–        Lack of clear and coherent regulation –

–        Uncoordinated approach to water laws administration

•          Decree 101 and Minerals Act, Cap 226 FMWR minister and Solid Minerals minister have same power to issue water license, to remove hydraulic work, to impose license fee, pollution control, and to impose other fess & charges.

•          NIWA Decree 13 and Water Resources Decree 101 grants similar powers to NIWA and FMWR.

•          RBDA Act, Cap 396 at conflict with NIWA decree.

–        Laws inadequate – the flaws identified in the water laws.

•          Virtually all the laws on WR (Fed. & State ) are rule-oriented and fail to recognize the role of the private sector and communities as important stakeholders.

•          Present laws lack proper provisions & mechanisms of intersect oral coordination, tariff setting and conflict resolution.

•          Institutional responsibility not backed with enforceable authority – RBDAs/SWAs relationship

–        Accompanying Rules & Regulations (1997) for Water Resources Decree 101, 1993 outdated with respect to the current realities and not yet implementable;

•          Institutional constraints: Two types of institutional impediments stand in the way of expanding access to water supply and sanitation services Lenton, R. &Wright, A. (2004):

–        Lack of appropriate institutions at all levels, and

–        Chronic dysfunction of existing institutional arrangements. (At the community level, potential users of services are often constrained by the absence or underutilization of institutions to facilitate collective and/or individual action. At the national and sub-national level, sanitation often has no institutional ‘home’ at all, creating a policy vacuum and a corresponding lack of prioritization in budgetary decision-making).

–        RBDAs set up as development agencies not management agencies & are thus not managing WR within basins.

•          FMWR encroaching on the functions of RBDAs – Gurara Dams, borehole drilling; RBDAs engaging in bottled water business, real estate business, hospitability services, etc.

•          Lack of clear definitions of the functions and relationship of sector institutions –

•          Mandates of institutions as stipulated by laws and edicts that establish them create overlaps, etc;

–        Multiplicity of organisations and other bodies involved in WR sector which has led to a situation of conflicting mandates and responsibilities, giving rise to inefficient and ineffective water resources development and management.

•          Conflict created as a result of Water resources not managed on unit basin basis – e.g. the KYB case – conflict between downstream and upstream users.

•          Conflict between agencies – little cooperation between federal & federal agencies – FMWR and FMENV, and between federal and state agencies.

–        Involvement of the three tiers of govt. in rural water supply without collaboration results in weak coordination & inconsistent & conflicting mandates & responsibility.

–        Too many agencies claiming ownership for sanitation but not its responsibility (NWSSP of 2000).

–        Water supply and regulatory functions are often combined in a single institution. This is especially true of all RBDAs, as well as all SWAs.

–        Poor consultation and coordination – sectoral management of water and sanitation; duplication of schemes (small water supply schemes); Planning, development and management.

–        Lack of integration of WSS sector activities & initiatives – FMENV National Environmental Sanitation Policy/ FMWR draft National Water Sanitation Policy.

–        Over-centralization – WSS development and management not yet at the lowest possible appropriate level. (Examples worthy of studying/fine-tuning and replicating – UNICEF assisted and WaterAid programmes).

•          Widespread interference in affairs of water agencies – tariff setting, programme activities such as planning, prioritization of projects, etc. (Politics & its implications).

•          Shortage of qualified, honest & transparent manpower;

•          Lack of stakeholder participation –Schemes not demand driven; top down approach. Several boreholes drilled by FGN & at times by State governments not properly handed over to communities breakdown shortly after completion.

•          National Council on Water Resources – not functioning effectively – Meeting of the Tech. Committee too close to the annual meeting & not meeting as many times as may be necessary.

•          No role for women – There is an inadequate involvement of communities, especially women, in all aspects of project work, which has resulted in low community ownership and poor service sustainability

•          Lack of technical and managerial capacity in the WSS sector especially at the LG and community levels.

Specific sub-sector issues:

•          Urban WSS institutional  issues

•          Very low operational efficiency (UfW very high, up to 63% in 1998) due partly to unmotivated staff, highly politicized tariff setting and poor maintenance culture.

•          Weak commitment of state govts. to institutional reforms – David Henley (2000) “… Trained people go elsewhere where they can earn more; experienced managers get moved, system fails as soon as Bank finance dries up; …We find that promises made by Government  to improve operations and revenue generation are not and cannot be kept; … We find autonomy is given and taken away;…”

•          World Bank WSS Interim strategy Note of 2000 “ … there is the problem of agency responsibility for sanitation, poorly developed sanitation policies.”

•          SWA staff from GM down are civil servants and operate as such.

•          Lack of autonomy of water supply agencies; Edicts that established SWAs provide that they operate as autonomous entities, in practice they operate like govt. depts. closely integrated into the civil service. They depend on subvention.

•          Have a decentralized organizational structure down to district zonal offices, which is a positive development.

•          Usually overstaffed. Staff to customer ratio ~ 70, compared to the average best practice of 3.5 in efficient utilities.

•          There is poor definition and assignment of responsibilities for regulation and effective control of the various aspects of the water and sanitation business.

•          Lack of technical & financial capacity at SWAs to efficiently monitor distribution systems;

 Small Town WSS institutional Issues –

•          Responsibility for Small Town WSS lies with the three tiers of govt. – federal, state and local with overlapping & uncoordinated roles and functions.

•          Services introduced with little or no community participation.

•          No single policy enforced to coordinate & lend focus to the various efforts & inputs, although the FMWR-STWSSP is now addressing the issue.

•          Most of the institutional issues identified for urban utilities are also relevant.

•          Because the small towns have been largely ignored by SWAs WS has been virtually left to informal arrangements – tankers, privately-owned wells, and hand-carried water containers.

Rural WSS institutional issues –

•          World Bank WSS Interim strategy Note of 2000 – “Nigeria has a policy of requiring community ownership and operation of rural water supply and sanitation.” However, it is difficult to see this in practice.

•          “Uncoordinated, conflicting programs have been adopted by various agencies, not in line with the stated policy.

•          Many communities have been served by multiple programs, many served by none, and a majority of facilities that have been provided are not operational.”

•          Lack of technical & financial capacity at LGAs to efficiently monitor mini water schemes – boreholes, etc “Federal government with the collaboration of international agencies, especially UNICEF, is helping states to build capacity of state, local and community levels before moving the responsibility for rural water supply to the LGAs in accordance with national policy.”

•          The Activities of WaterAid also – partnering with NGOs in 2 states Bauchi and Plateau, but in Benue partnering with the State govt. .

•          Treatment of WSS institutional issues in policies, WSS institutional framework & strategies:

–        National Water Policy (2004)

–        National Water Supply and Sanitation Policy (2000)

–        National Water Sanitation Policy (Draft, 2003)

–        National Environmental Sanitation Policy (2005) National Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme: A Strategic Framework (2004).

National Water Policy:

–        It states with respect to capacity & manpower development that the policy aims at developing competence and skilled manpower, training of middle and lower manpower and strengthening of NWRI.

–        The institutional arrangement suggested similar to existing ones. The objectives of the institutional arrangement are aimed at addressing the above issues and are:

•          To ensure proper co-ordination and collaboration among stakeholders and harmonization of activities in water resources development management.

•          To ensure a multi-disciplinary and inter-sectoral approach to water resources development and management.

•          To define clearly the functions and responsibilities of each tier of governments and Institutions set up to implement various activities in the water resources sector.

–        National Water Supply and Sanitation Policy (2000):

–        Offers reform agenda for the WSS sector that will be developed based on the following guiding principles:

•          Autonomy of WSS services providers;

•          Management at the lowest appropriate level “appropriate being key and a function of the specific conditions in the concerned areas and communities”;

•          Participation – “… involvement of important segments of the society that have been traditionally excluded”.

•          Policy making and regulatory role of government – “… as a facilitator, setting macroeconomic and sector policies that create an enabling environment. …precludes its intervention in the actual delivery of services, Which are more efficiently accomplished by autonomous entities,”

–        It defines institutional responsibilities of the FMWR,RBDAs, NWRI, SWAs and LGs and describes inter agency relationship.

–        National Water Sanitation Policy (Draft, 2003):

–        Provides an institutional framework for sanitation which gives a list of all institutions that should be involved at all levels with the FMWR & states MWR taking the lead in sanitation.

–        The creation of a sanitation division in the WS&QC Department of the FMWR and a water sanitation division in the department of water supply at state ministries.

–        National Environmental Sanitation Policy (NESP, 2005);

–        Institutional arrangements –  Technical Committees at all levels – National Technical Committees, State Technical Committees, and Local Government Technical Committees.

–        National level TC includes FMWR, Health and other relevant Ministries; same for the state TCs and LG TCs.

–        It defines the institutional roles of the members of the technical committees; E.G. The FMWR is responsible for 2 things:

•          Collaborate with FMENV on water sanitation activities including sewerage, storm water control and quality control of water supply;

•          Ensure access to adequate potable water supply for all Nigerians.

What Are Being Done

•          Initiatives towards addressing WSS institutional issues necessary for the attainment of MDGs:

•          Governments

–        Federal level – NEEDS

–        State Level – SEEDS

•          ESAs

•          World Bank:

–        Through the FMWR PMO – Assistance in:

•          Broad sector reform – to finalize policy & completion of institutional reform

•           urban water supply sector reform

•          Review of WSSP review

•          Regulation – estb. Of regulatory agency at the state level

•          Capacity development framework through the help of NWRI

•          African Development Bank (AfDB)

–        Several involvements in WSS.

–        Study on rural water supply & sanitation.

•          EU assistance:

–        PMU (Federal level), STU (State level)

–        DFID-JWL program in KYB Basin

–        Institutional reforms & IWRM in the KYB basin;

–        Promotion of new institutional arrangements that will encourage & ensure good water governance in line with IWRM;

•          Estb. of State IWRM committees to facilitate consultation & awareness raising; encouragement of NGOs & CBOs involvement

•          DFID – working through UNICEF & WaterAid

•          UNICEFs’ Assistance: 

–        Preparation of the National RWSS Programme Strategic Framework.

–        Involvement in capacity building though WATSANs

•          WaterAid – Develops the capacity of local partner organisations to implement water, sanitation & hygiene projects. For sustainability of its projects its partners train & supports local communities to plan, construct, manage and maintain their own projects (WaterAid Corporate Strategy 2005 –2010).

•          UN-Habitat WAC programme – WAC II Jos Programme, Nigeria –aims to develop a pro-poor WSS intervention through piloting & demonstration of activities of WAC so as to accelerate meeting the MDGs for WSS.

The Way Forward

•          Government should:

•          Adopt IWRM principles in all WR programmes.

•          Review available institutional structures and develop one that helps in minimizing fragmentation & overlap of functions between different institutions and (This will involve a careful consideration of the laws/statutes/decrees, etc. that establish these institutions). Complex institutional arrangements will not improve institutional performance. Instead, institutions have to be fully authorized and their formal position should be compatible with assigned responsibilities.

•          Provide the existing regulatory systems and coordination structures with the authority and appropriate resources they lack.

•          Create appropriate institutions at all levels. e.g. for proper management of river basins – River Basin Management Committee.

•          All water and sanitation projects should have capacity building component.

•          All water and sanitation agencies should have budgetary provisions for human resources development.

•          When allocating resources to national-level initiatives or decentralizing water supply and sanitation services delivery to local authorities, ensure that funds for both infrastructure and capacity building (e.g., for planning, operation, and maintenance) are provided in one package.

•          Fund NWRI and other related institutions to operate extension services with respect to carrying out refresher training at the state and LG levels.

•          Develop courses that are suited to the training needs of the local governments and communities.

•          Take measures to increase accountability of service providers to consumers, such as the reform of civil-service legislation and limiting political interference in planning, construction, and O&M.

•          Establish and provide resources for credible regulatory institutions.

•          Establish minimum national standards for water and sanitation services that focus on end goals (e.g., safe removal of excreta) rather than on specific technologies.

•          Create a national-level and state-level “institutional home” for the issue of sanitation, be it the FMWR or FMENV. This sanitation institution should set national standards, support implementing bodies, and hold local governments accountable for results. It should also create a national-level plan to guide policy-making and goal-setting for sanitation. (It may be necessary to hold an inter-ministerial summit between FMWR and FMENV, facilitated by an international expert that will once and for all assigning a home to sanitation  

•          Engage WaterAid as a partner on a nationwide basis where WATSAN is absent to assist in capacity development at local government and community levels.

•          Develop drinking water quality standards.

•          Put in place drinking water quality and surveillance policy guidelines, develop the capacity of the relevant government institutions to establish an effective water quality surveillance programme and implement the guidelines. The establishment of an effective water quality and surveillance programme especially at the community level could be the type of innovative action recommended by Wright (2005) in order to fast track attainment of MDGs’ water and sanitation target in Nigeria.

•          Address any gender biases within their institutions.

•          Service providers (SWAs etc). Should:

•          Improve pay scales and incentive structures to attract and retain qualified technical and managerial staff.

•          Restructure professional incentives to reward good performance in operations and maintenance, as well as service extensions to low-income communities.

•          Involve both women and men in water supply and sanitation services provision and integrated water resources management initiatives.

•          Restructure professional incentives to reward good performance in operations and maintenance, as well as service extensions to low-income communities.

•          Civic organizations such as schools, local NGOs, and community associations should:

•          Partner with service providers in projects to provide or improve services to poor communities.

•          Participate in public meetings, hearings, and other events related to public-service delivery to advocate for policies and programs that will improve water supply and sanitation services to the poor.

•          Include hygiene education in school curricula.

•          Use the issue of water supply and sanitation services as an entry point for promoting women’s empowerment. Promote women’s involvement in community management of water supplies.