WaterAid partner with the National Water Resources Institute to deliver equitable sustainable total sanitation at scale in Nigeria

3 min read
MoU with NWRI

In 2018, the Government of Nigeria declared a state of emergency in Nigeria's water, sanitation, and hygiene sector, and launched a National Action Plan for the revitalisation of the sector. This was in response to Nigeria's WASH crisis where according to the NBS, only 11% of Nigerian households have access to both basic water and sanitation services. Additionally, a national sanitation campaign tagged ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ was launched to address the particularly grim sanitation crisis and deliver an open defecation free Nigeria by 2025.

The five interrelated pillars outlined in the National Action Plan – governance, sanitation, financing, sustainability and monitoring, and evaluation – highlight how crucial a multi-partner approach is to realising the overall objectives and goal of the plan. Last year, at the World Water Week in Stockholm, WaterAid entered into a partnership with the Government of Nigeria, through the Ministry of Water Resources, to provide technical assistance and capacity strengthening support to stimulate sector actors towards achieving the longer term goals of the National Action Plan – which are to ensure universal access to sustainable and safely managed WASH services for every Nigerian by 2030 and to institutionalise the enabling environment required to support the effective and sustainable management of Nigeria’s WASH services.

MoU signing
Image: WaterAid/Rachel Ogunlana

While the declaration of a state of emergency and the launch of the National Action Plan demonstrated the highest form of political will and commitment for the delivery of sustainable WASH access in Nigeria, institutional and capacity gaps, particularly related to the designing, planning and implementation of rural sanitation programmes in Nigeria, continue to threaten the achievement of these plans which will not be realised without the right context-specific sanitation approaches and accompanying capacities to implement sanitation programmes in rural communities of Nigeria.

Over the years, rural sanitation programming has shifted from construction-driven approaches towards social mobilisation and behavioural change approaches; with market-based approaches gaining momentum. Although these innovations have been important steps forward, they have resulted in mixed outcomes and shown that applying a blueprint of single approaches across large areas or even countries, does not always work and is simply not enough to reach everyone, everywhere.

Additionally, the cost of facilitating and delivering sanitation approaches is often not well-understood or monitored. Fast-tracking progress requires a new way of thinking and planning for rural sanitation. To address this, WaterAid collaborated with Plan International UK and UNICEF to develop guidance on programming for rural sanitation for programme policymakers, planners and implementers, outlining how to design an equitable and sustainable rural sanitation programme at scale.

MoU signing
Image: WaterAid/Rachel Ogunlana

WaterAid Nigeria's partnership with the National Water Resources Institute (NWRI) will combine the WASH expertise of WaterAid and the training expertise of the NWRI to contribute to bridging knowledge and capacity gaps for the delivery of equitable sustainable total sanitation at scale in Nigeria. It will systematically support and improve sector capacity building for sanitation programme development, influencing policy and practice in the long term across the WASH sector in the country. Under this partnership, we will develop modules and run certified short courses on the ‘Rethinking Rural Sanitation’ guide – an approach developed by WaterAid in collaboration with Plan International UK and UNICEF – to guide policymakers, planners and implementers on rural sanitation programming.

The partnership will promote learning and capacity building on rural sanitation in Nigeria working through a systems-based approach to embedding the principles and approaches to enhance sustainability, equity and scale towards universal access by 2030. It will review and integrate the emerging framework for rural sanitation promotion in Nigeria; and integrate learnings from WaterAid’s implementation of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Sustainable Total Sanitation (STS) project, with the Rethinking Rural Sanitation (RRS) guidelines to develop and deliver the modules and certified short courses on the RRS and STS emerging framework training guides. The partnership will not only contribute to delivering the sanitation pillar of the National Action Plan but also to the realisation of Sustainable Development Goal 6 in Nigeria.