“Nigeria’s Megacity, Lagos, Faces ‘Unacceptable’ Water and Sanitation Crisis”

Human Wrongs Watch

A United Nations human rights expert on 22 December 2016 called on the Nigerian Government to increase funding for water and sanitation in next year’s budget to address the needs of 21 million residents of Lagos, the country’s largest city, which continues to grow while access to basic services dwindles.

In Lagos, Nigeria, residents navigate the polluted waters of Makoko, a fishing community mostly made up of structures on stilts above Lagos Lagoon, as smog spreads throughout the canals. Photo: UNICEF/Tanya Bindra

Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation, commented on the budget, shortly after it was presented by the State Governor to the Lagos House of Assembly, stating that the Government reports show high deficits in the sector, “representing clearly unacceptable conditions for millions of the megacity’s residents.”

According to Heller, the annual budget discussion is a chance for the city to take action in providing water and sanitation to the people. He also expressed concerns over the high numbers of vulnerable people.

“There is no question that the city’s water and sanitation sector has deteriorated to this point because of the way it has been managed for many years.”

The Special Rapporteur also presented a few alternative solutions to the problem for the Government to consider, such as increasing the effectiveness of the public service provider, adopting necessary financing schemes, and reducing water losses.

“For more than a decade, the Government has adopted a hard-line policy according to which the solution would seem to only attract private capital, notably via public-private partnerships (PPPs). Numerous civil society groups have urged the Government to guarantee their right to participate in these processes,” said Heller, adding that the key to an adequate solution is a participatory process.

In addition, the situation continues to worsen as the population of Lagos increases, and the resources become scarce, with an estimated 10 per cent of the population having access to water supplied by the State utility.

Residents have also been reported drilling their own boreholes, in hopes to get some water, causing various environmental and health issues, particularly contaminated water consumption.

The Special Rapporteur has reached out to the Nigerian Government earlier this year, and is still waiting for it to provide an update on the water and sanitation issue. (SOURCE: UN).

400,000 children could suffer from malnutrition in Northeast Nigeria

With about two-thirds of health facilities in parts of Nigeria’s restive north-east region either completely destroyed or partially damaged, UNICEF estimated that 400,000 children there could suffer from severe acute malnutrition over the next year.**

A 7 month old boy is assessed for malnutrition by a UNICEF Nutrition Officer at a UNICEF-supported health clinic at Muna Garage IDP camp, Maiduguri, Borno State, northeast Nigeria. Photo: UNICEF/Katerina Vittozzi

“If they do not receive the treatment they need, 1 in 5 of these children will die. Cases of diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia are on the rise, further endangering children’s lives,” on 14 December 2016 said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in a statement.

“These figures represent only a fraction of the suffering. Large areas of Borno state are completely inaccessible to any kind of humanitarian assistance. We are extremely concerned about the children trapped in these areas,” he added.

According to UNICEF, in the worst affected states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, farming has been disrupted and crops destroyed, food reserves depleted and often pillaged, and livestock killed or abandoned.

The impact on children is devastating […] what is already a crisis can become a catastrophe UNICEF head Anthony Lake

Lake added that UNICEF programmes on vaccinations, safe water and sanitation, and treatment for acutely malnourished children are making a difference in the areas it is able to reach but these are “nowhere close to enough.”


“Without adequate resources and without safe access, we and our partners will be unable to reach children whose lives are at imminent risk,” he warned.


Meanwhile, the UN health agency reported that of the 743 health facilities in Borno state, 35 per cent are completely destroyed, 29 per cent partially damaged and only 34 per cent intact.

Of the 481 health facilities not destroyed, 31 per cent of them are not functioning, mostly as a result of lack of access due to insecurity. Almost 60 per cent of health facilities have no access to safe water (32 per cent have no access to any water at all) and 3 out of 4 facilities do not have enough chlorine stocks to decontaminate the water used in the facility.

“High insecurity, difficult terrain and lack of health workers, medicines, equipment and basic amenities such as safe water are making access to essential, lifesaving health care extremely difficult for people in this conflict-affected area,” said the UN World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Wondi Alemu, in a news release.

WHO’s top priority is to help save lives and prevent sickness among the estimated 6 million people who need health assistance in this crisisWHO Representative Wondi Alemu

In response to the crisis, WHO along with its partners has been supporting the Nigerian government to provide essential lifesaving health services, gather and analyse key health information, and prepare for and respond to disease outbreaks.


Additionally, about 100 temporary health facilities have been set up to support the response, of which 49 are emergency clinics for displaced people living in camps.

However, the UN health agency said that more resources are needed.

“The UN and partners need $94 million to provide health services to 6 million people, more than half of them children,” it noted in the release, adding: “Of this [we] need $31 million to deliver on [our] response plans in 2017.” (**SOURCE: UN).

2016 Human Wrongs Watch

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