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Nigeria is part of:
Africa · Western Africa ·
Water Basins of Nigeria:
Akpa · Cross · Lake Chad · Niger Basin · Oueme ·
Facts & Figures edit
Capital Abuja
Neighbouring Countries Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger
Total Area 923,768 km2
  - Water 13,000 km2 (1.41%) / 141 m2/ha
  - Land 910,768 km2
Coastline 853 km
Population 131,529,700 (142 inhab./km2)
HDIA 0.499 (2007)
Gini CoefficientA 43.7 (1995)
Nominal GDPB $220,300 million
GDP (PPP) Per CapitaB $2,200
Land UseC
  - Cultivated Land 329,334 km2 (36.16%)
     - Arable 300,736 km2 (33.02%)
     - Permanent Crops 28,598 km2 (3.14%)
     - Irrigated 2,820 km2
  - Non cultivated km2 (63.84%)
Average Annual RainfallD 1150 mm
Renewable Water ResourcesE 286.2 km3
Water WithdrawalsF km3/yr
  - For Agricultural Use 69%
  - For Domestic Use 21%
  - For Industrial Use 10%
  - Per Capita 68 m3
Population with safe access to
  - Improved Water Source 48%
     - Urban population 67%
     - Rural population 31%
  - Improved Sanitation 44%
     - Urban population 53%
     - Rural population 36%
References & Remarks
A UNDP Human Development Report
B CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia
C CIA World Factbook Country Profiles
D Aquastat - FAO's Information System on Water and Agriculture
E CIA World Factbook
F Earthtrends

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Country Profile: Climate, Geography, Socio-Economic Context

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with an estimated population of 132 million, growing annually at a rate of 2 percent. Nigeria is also the largest country in West Africa and has an average per capita income of US$290, about 20 percent lower than in 1975. Nigeria faces severe poverty, particularly in the remote southern areas. Urban poverty is rising – the World Bank estimates that about 48 percent of urban dwellers are living in poverty. About 30 million people were defined as extremely poor in 1996.

Country Profile: Water Bodies and Resources

Nigeria’s rainfall varies significantly across the country, creating three broad ecological zones that also define their potential for agriculture: the arid northern Sudan savanna; the wet Guinea savanna zone (Middle Belt); and the humid subtropical southern rainforest. The northern savanna receives the least rainfall (500 millimeters per year), the Middle Belt receives about 1000 millimeters per year, and it rains almost year round (2000 millimeters per year) in the humid rainforests in the southern region and strip of coastline.

The country has four large surface water basins, providing opportunities for irrigated agriculture as well as fisheries. The two largest, the Niger Basin and Lake Chad Basin, cover 83% of the country. Rivers and lakes make up approximately 16% of Nigeria’s total surface area. Two river systems – the Chad and Niger-Benue – dominate the country’s hydrology. Nigeria has extensive fadama areas, which are flood plains found along the country’s rivers, especially the Niger, Sokoto Rima, Benue, and Yobe. The fadama areas provide rich grazing and agricultural land and are internationally important areas for biodiversity.

Nigeria has annual internal renewable water resources of 221 cubic kilometers. Sixty-nine percent of water is used for agriculture, 21% for domestic uses, and 10% for industry. Forty-seven percent of the total population (30% of the rural population) has access to safe water. However, in many areas water service is intermittent, sanitation facilities unavailable, and water quality is substandard nationwide, suggesting that far more than half the population is unable to access sufficient clean water on a regular basis. Nigeria’s water resources have been degraded by soil erosion, siltation, salinization, saltwater incursion, and pollution from industrial sources and human and animal waste. Diarrhea and waterborne diseases are common and often deadly, especially for children.

Nigeria's rapid population growth has not been accompanied by an increase in the delivery of water supply, sewerage and sanitation services. The gap between those areas that have reasonably safe access to water supply and sanitation (WSS) and those without is growing wider. Urban areas experience greater coverage, whereas peri-urban, semi-urban, and rural areas are experiencing stagnation or a decline in service.

Assessing the status of Nigeria’s progress towards its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets is difficult. Lack of accurate data makes it impossible to determine whether Nigeria is making progress to meet its MDGs targets in the WSS sector. For instance, the United Kingdom’s Department of Foreign and International Development (DFID) classified Nigeria as “one of the four most off-track MDG countries in Africa.” In May 2005, the Nigerian Minister of Water Resources said that increased spending on water programs resulted in a huge increase in the access to safe water supply, from 35 percent in 1999 to 65 percent in 2004. A year later, the Ministry revised its access figure upwards to 68 percent. The World Health Organization (WHO), however, estimates that the figures are closer to 48 percent for improved drinking water and 44 percent for improved sanitation.

Regardless, Nigeria’s water infrastructure has suffered from years of poor operation and maintenance (O&M), and the very low access to improved sanitation constitutes a serious public-heath problem. Weak and inefficient institutions, unsustainable public sector spending, and persistent implementation failures have also contributed to poor access rates and sustainability.

Country Profile: Legal and Institutional Environment

Legal Framework

The Water Resources Act of 1993 gives the government the right to use and control all the country’s surface and groundwater for the purpose of developing the country’s water resources and coordinating their distribution, use, and protection. The federal government has authority over water shared by more than one state; otherwise, each state has authority to regulate the water resources within its boundaries. The federal government also has control of the country’s dams. The Water Resources Act of 1993 permits people access to water for domestic use from public-access sources. Those with statutory or customary rights to land can take water from any underground water source or water course for domestic use, watering livestock, or personal irrigation systems. State-level water legislation and local water boards govern water use.

The 1979 River Basins Development Authorities Act establishes and regulates 12 river basin authorities (within the country’s four large river basins). The river basin authorities are under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The individual states have authority over the water resources within their boundaries, and most have issued legislation to create state water boards to manage, supervise, and control the use of the state’s water resources. State Water Boards report to the governors of each state.

A 2004 National Water Resources Policy sets out numerous principles to guide management of the country’s water resources, including: (1) water is considered to be a national asset and resource common to all, the use of which shall be subject to national control; (2) the nation’s water resources shall be managed to achieve optimum, long-term, environmentally sustainable social and economic benefit for society; (3) the law should provide for water-use rights (rather than water-ownership rights); (4) planning and management of Nigeria’s water resources shall take place within a framework that facilitates awareness and participation among all users at all levels; (5) water resources shall be assessed, developed, apportioned, and managed in such a manner as to enable all users to have equitable access; (6) operational management of water resources and services shall be decentralized to the lowest practicable level in accordance with the established eight hydrological areas as the basic units of water resources management in Nigeria; and (7) fees shall be charged for commercial extraction of water. To date, these principles have not been supported by federal legislation.

National Guidelines for Regulating Water Supplies in Nigeria have been prepared and States are encouraged to adopt the contents as state law. However, only Lagos has done so.

Tenure Issues

In urban and peri-urban areas, water charges are based either on the volume of water consumed or on a flat rate, and the rates are subsidized. In most rural areas, water is supplied to the population free of charge. Water scarcity is common in many towns and cities, and those who can afford the expense often buy water from private water vendors.

Under customary law, a grant of land generally confers rights to all products of the land, including water resources. People can take water for domestic use from lakes, rivers, wells, and boreholes. There are usually no restrictions on rights to use large bodies of water. Use of small bodies of water often requires permission of the clan or household occupying the land with the water resource. Anyone improving a spring or other water source earns rights to that water source.

Water-related disputes tend to be resolved by traditional dispute-resolution processes and procedures, such as through the use of customary leaders and tribunals, mediation, arbitration, and adjudication. Lack of water law specialists, lack of specialized legal input into water-related contracts, and pervasive non-compliance with contract terms have increased the potential for water disputes

Institutional Framework
Key Agencies Nigeria's Water Sector
Key Agencies Nigeria's Water Sector

Nigeria’s three tiers of government share responsibility for managing water resources and for providing water, which results in confusion and inefficiency. The Federal Ministry of Water Resources is the national coordinating body for the water sector. The Ministry develops and implements national irrigation policy, implements the Water Resources Master Plan, formulates legislation, and undertakes studies and research. The Ministry is assisted by 12 River Basin Authorities and the National Water Resources Institute. The River Basin Authorities are responsible for the development of surface and groundwater resources for multipurpose use, constructing and maintaining water-resource infrastructure, and supplying users with stored water. The National Water Resources Institute creates and implements training programs on water resources and advises the government on water-resource need and priorities. Water supply is the responsibility of the states, and each state has a State Water Board.

The state water agencies (SWAs) are responsible for establishment, operation, quality control, and maintenance of urban and semi-urban water supply (and sometimes rural). The Local Government Authorities (LGAs), of which there are 774, are responsible for the establishment, operation, and maintenance of rural water supply schemes and sanitation facilities in their areas although only a few have the resources and skills to address the sector. Only few LGAs have rural water supply divisions able to construct small water systems such as open wells and small impoundments of surface water.

Sanitation access has gradually grown in importance despite persistently low access rates, particularly in urban areas. By 2004, the FMWR began the process of revising its sanitation policy but the policy has not yet been adopted. Sanitation remains a state government responsibility, but piped sewerage is almost non-existent. Except for Abuja and limited areas o f Lagos, no urban community has a sewerage system, Until a more focused public approach is developed, sanitation will remain primarily a responsibility of individual households. In addition, policy implementation does not remain the sole reason for poor coverage. The lack of awareness, poverty, poor planning, poor funding, and poor implementation of hygiene programs by different agencies also hamper efforts to expand sanitation access.

The Urban Sub-sector

Nigeria’s ability to achieve the MDG targets is impacted directly by its high population growth. Nigeria’s cities are growing at a phenomenal rate. In fact, urban areas are expected to comprise 60 percent of the population by 2015 compared with 30 percent in 1990. Lagos, its largest city, is expected to become the world’s third largest city by 2010.

There are 37 water agencies in the country – one for each State and one in the Federal Capitol Territory. Most are established as corporate bodies fully owned by State Government, but often run according to civil service rules. However, four of the 37, namely Lagos, Cross Rivers, Kaduna and Ogun State Water Agencies are undergoing reforms by introducing service public-private participation (PPP -mostly service contracts). Generally, each SWA is established under an edict to develop and manage water supply facilities within its respective state and to meet sound financial objectives. However, the operational efficiency of the most of the SWAs is low and unaccounted-for-water often exceeds 50percent.

SWAs often find it difficult to be operationally autonomous from the state government. Rate increases may be proposed by utilities, but are typically approved by the state – and political imperatives often keep rates unreasonably low. Urban areas are often water-scarce due to environmental and capacity issues and technical losses. Residents in these areas must buy water from private vendors at high prices.

The Rural Sub-sector

Local governments are responsible for rural water service. Local governments share the costs of service with SWAs and the federal government. This is the case for both capital improvements and recurring operation and maintenance since water is often supplied free of charge. Most rural areas depend upon boreholes or hand-dug wells for water supply. At best, Village Level Operation and Maintenance (VLOM) hand pumps are available. Sanitation facilities continue to be inadequate as sector disorganization, institutional conflicts, and the lack of defined responsibilities prevail.

Government Reforms and Interventions

In 2006 the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, with assistance from the European Commission (EC), prepared a comprehensive national water resources strategy that included: implementation of the national water policy; development of the regulatory framework governing water resources; harmonization of state and federal authority over water resources; management of conflict areas; and restructuring of the water-related institutions. The Nigerian government has been unable to execute its water strategy; major barriers in the sector are chronic problems with power supply, poorly maintained infrastructure, outdated information systems, weaknesses within state water authorities, and a regulatory framework that does not encourage the public-private partnerships believed necessary for investment in the sector.

Since the early 1990s the Nigerian government has implemented a series of projects focused on agricultural productivity and investment in fadama areas. With World Bank support, the first phase (Fadama I) focused on the development of simple, low-cost irrigation technology in fadama areas, irrigating roughly 55,000 hectares with pumps and tube wells. Fadama II (2004–2007) was a US $125 million project ($100 million from the International Development Association [IDA]) in 12 Nigeria states. The project worked with fadama user groups with common economic interests, such as farmers and pastoralists, and marginalized groups such as women and individuals with disabilities. Groups developed plans and applied for funding for income-generating community-level assets, such as water-pumps and generators. The project reports increasing incomes for 2.3 million households an average of 60% in the 2005–2007 period. Fadama III was launched in Zamfara State in northern Nigeria in 2009. The project will expand countrywide and receive IDA support of US $250 million. The project will concentrate on supporting demand-driven investments and empowerment of local communities with the aim of improving productivity and land and water quality.

In response to conflict over water resources in the Komadugu-Yobe River Basin – which was caused in large measure by inadequate planning and management of water resources – the government designed a project to support participatory and informed decision-making about the equitable use and sustainable management of the basin. The EUR €1.5 million project built a knowledge base, piloted improved water-management field interventions, adopted a water charter, and created an updated management plan.

Country Profile: Water Sector Coordination

See Sector coordination sub-page for detailed description

Country Profile: Trends in Water Use, Management and Sanitation

Country Profile: Challenges and Opportunities

Donor Involvement

USAID has supported numerous water projects in Nigeria. In 2010 it is partnering with the Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority to rehabilitate the Bakolori irrigation system and provide training to stakeholders on the operation and maintenance of the system. USAID is also continuing to help the government improve water access and quality through construction of hand pump boreholes and rainwater catchment systems, drinking water treatment and water-related hygiene programs.

The European Development Fund (EDF) financed a Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Reform Programme from January 2006 to December 2009. The objectives of the program were to increase access to safe, adequate, and sustainable water and sanitation services in six states and provide assistance on the reformation of the water sector. The project helped prepare a new proposed draft national water law (not adopted to date) and provided guidance on restructuring the water sector through focus on river basin authorities. The National Fadama Development Project, which has been funded by the World Bank, extended agricultural productivity in fadama (floodplain) areas by introducing the use of small pumps. The project formed more than 9000 community-based water user associations (WUAs) in the 1990s. The Fadama II Critical Ecosystem Management Project (2006–2011) has helped the local government form six state-level Water Committees. As of the FY09 Status of Projects in Execution (SOPE) report, three separate ongoing urban-focused water projects (totaling more than US $300 million) have rehabilitated two large water treatment plants in Lagos, built 12 smaller plants that are now functioning, and established 12,000 of 50,000 planned new water connections.


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Who is Who

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See also

External Resources



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