With a population of almost 200 million, Nigeria is the largest country in Africa. It is also the largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa: its Gross Domestic Product GDP quadrupled between 2005 and 2015. However, this rapid economic growth has not translated into rapid poverty reduction or the provision of basic social services, including the delivery of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services which has not kept up with the exploding population growth.

Although access to basic water and sanitation services are considered basic human rights, a lack of adequate capacity, financing, institutional arrangements, accountability mechanisms and national policies prevent effective and sustainable provision of these services. Addressing these barriers requires strong political leadership exhibited in concrete action aimed at improved sector investment, carrying out institutional reforms and addressing gaps in human resources, at the minimum.

According to the 2019 National Outcome Routine Mapping of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Service Levels (WASH-NORM), 30% of the people in Nigeria (60 million people) do not have access to clean water, 84% (167 million) do not have handwashing facilities with soap close to home, 56% (112 million) lack decent toilets and 23% (46 million) practice open defecation. 

NAP launch
Image: Bayo Omoboriowo

To address the WASH crisis in the country, the Federal Government of Nigeria launched the National Action Plan for the Revitalization of the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector and declared a State of Emergency in the WASH sector in 2018.  The National Action Plan is a three-phase plan to revitalize the WASH sector comprising:

  • an 18-month emergency plan,
  • a 5-year recovery programme,
  • a 13-year revitalisation strategy

The National Action Plan comprises five interrelated components: Governance, Sustainability, Sanitation, Funding and Financing, and Monitoring and Evaluation. In addition to the National Action Plan, a national sanitation campaign tagged ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilets’ was launched to address the sanitation crisis and deliver an open defecation free Nigeria by 2025.  

Delivering the National Action Plan

The goals outlined in the NAP areveal that a multi-partner approach is key to realising these objectives. 

WaterAid and the Minister of Water Resources

Hinged on the fact that Nigeria is a priority country for WaterAid, achieving WASH progress in the country will have a transformational impact on WASH access at a global scale. To this end, WaterAid and the Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Water Resources signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to provide technical assistance and capacity strengthening support to stimulate sector actors towards achieving the longer term goals of the NAP - ensure universal access to sustainable and safely managed WASH services for every Nigerian by 2030 and institutionalise the enabling environment required to support the effective and sustainable management of Nigeria’s WASH services. 

In addition to the principles outlined in the MOU, the following interventions, investments and engagements by WaterAid, are geared towards delivering the NAP: 

  • Strategic communications and advocacy support through the secondment of a Communications Specialist from WaterAid to the NAP secretariat has been provided. Similarly, continued remote support is being provided to the CNC Secretariat in developing and sharing multi-thematic, cultural and context sensitive messages via social media and communications platforms. 
  • As part of the efforts to address the sanitation component of the NAP, WaterAid has conducted a context analysis of urban sanitation in Enugu, Kano and Warri cities to document experiences and provide insights on the key barriers and opportunities for increased progress in expanding inclusive sanitation services across the sanitation value chain. The study findings will be disseminated to key stakeholders in the Nigerian WASH Sector with a view to developing an effective framework for Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) in Nigeria.  
  • Following the state of emergency declaration, WaterAid has been able to influence and support the review of the WASH policies and Water Sector Laws in Bauchi and Enugu States.  Similarly, In Bauchi, the state government has firmed up plans to declare a state of emergency in its WASH sector and launch its ‘Clean Family; Happy Family’ behaviour change campaign to improve access to WASH in Bauchi.  In Enugu, the State Governor has directly requested for WaterAid’s support in developing a framework for addressing the faecal waste management crisis in the state which some of the findings from the previously mentioned study will help in developing.
  • With support from the NAP and CNC secretariats, government stakeholders in Bauchi State have commenced the development of a State Action Plan and an Open Defecation Free (ODF) roadmap. These will feed in and contribute to achieving the objectives of the NAP and Clean Nigeria campaign as well as encourage other states to buy into the state of emergency declaration. Also, the levels of commitment demonstrated will better place the Bauchi State in a position to access the National WASH fund. 
  • WaterAid is piloting the Sustainable Total Sanitation Emerging Framework in Kirfi Local Government Area of Bauchi State to improve sanitation access, end open defecation and create entrepreneurial opportunities in the sanitation space by engaging the private sector. The adaptive and composite approach integrates Sanitation Marketing with Community-Led Total Sanitation, public awareness and communications activities through Hygiene Behaviour Change (HBC).  
  • In Plateau State, an intervention state, WaterAid has supported the state government in the declaration of a State of Emergency in the WASH sector in September 2018 and the setting up of a committee to develop a State Action Plan. While this has not translated into immediate action by the government, WaterAid and its local Civil Society partners are currently conducting advocacy to the political leaders in the state that has led to a public commitment by the Speaker on working with the new Commissioner of Water Resources to back up the declaration with resources to support a State Action Plan. 
  • In August 2019, WaterAid Nigeria co-hosted a closed meeting with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the World Bank at the Stockholm World Water Week to provide clarity on investment and partnerships opportunities to be created by the government towards ensuring improved WASH access for everyone everywhere in Nigeria. This was done to deliver on our commitment to act as a global advocate for Nigeria’s WASH sector to address the low level of international development support in the sector in Nigeria. 
  • WaterAid has been working with the Federal Ministry of Environment on reviewing the National Environmental Sanitation Policy to align it with the prinicples and goals of the NAP. We have also been working to facilitate partnerships between the Ministry and Technical Expertise from the Global South (particularly the Centre for Science and Environment, India) to aid knowledge transfer on technologies and approaches to accelerate access to safely managed sanitation in rural communities across Nigeria. WaterAid is also currently in talks to work with the ministry on modelling inclusive facilities and safely managed sanitation processes in a peri-urban community in Abuja, FCT. 
  • WaterAid is working with the National Coordinating Office (NCO) of the NAP to convene an organised private sector forum with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) on mobilising private sector interest and funding for the provision of basic WASH services in Urban Communities in Nigeria. We are also working with the NCO on convening a National Civil Society dialogue to develop an advocacy strategy and equity principles that will guide the NAP implementation particularly as it will affect access to WASH for vulnerable populations. 

WaterAid will continue to support other aspects of NAP and place Nigeria on track to attain Sustainable Development Goal 6. We will continue engagements in our focal states to support the implementation of state level action plans to end open defecation, improve sanitation access and good hygiene practices to ensure sustainable WASH access for everyone, everywhere by 2030.