WaterAid welcomes Nigerian Government action plan on water and sanitation crisis

8 November 2018
Nigeria, Water
Image: WaterAid/Tom Saater

WaterAid has welcomed the launch today of the Nigerian Federal Government’s emergency response to its water and sanitation crisis, the first phase of a National Action Plan addressing its state of emergency.

While Nigeria is the largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, one out of three Nigerians does not have clean water close to home and two in three do not have a decent household toilet. This directly contributes to the deaths of nearly 60,000 children under five each year of diarrhoeal illnesses caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and poor hygiene. 

This emergency kills more people annually in Nigeria than have died in conflict with Boko Haram. Poor sanitation is also estimated to cost countries the equivalent of 0.9% of GDP – in Nigeria, this amounts to $3.38 billion USD[1] a year.

ChiChi Aniagolu-Okoye, the Country Director of WaterAid Nigeria, said:

“With 1 in 3 Nigerians without clean water, and 2 in 3 Nigerians without decent household sanitation, strong political will is what is needed to address the water and sanitation crises in Nigeria and at WaterAid we are delighted that the Federal Government and His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari is demonstrating the needed political will with the launch of the Action Plan.

“The National Plan of Action is a significant political milestone towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 to reach everyone, everywhere with clean water and decent sanitation by 2030 and our expectation is that state governments will follow suit in developing Action Plans to address the Water and Sanitation crises in their respective states.”

In a speech declaring a state of emergency in water, sanitation and hygiene and launching the action plan, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari said his government was committed to developing the water sector and that he ‘noted with dismay’ declining services, including a fall in the percentage of the population with piped water services (32% in 1990, 7% in 2015) and a fall in the percentage of people with access to improved sanitation (from 38% in 1990 to 29% in 2015).

In his address, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari said: 

“As we all know our country is vast with an increasing rate of urbanisation but recent indices for water supply and sanitation access requires that governments at all levels redouble efforts and work in synergy towards meeting the nation’s water supply and sanitation demands.”

In Nigeria:

  • 123 million people are without a basic household toilet
  • 60 million people are without clean water close to home
  • 166 million people do not have a way to wash hands with soap
  • 50% of schools are without basic toilets
  • 30% of healthcare facilities do not have a water source on site
  • Progress on sanitation is regressing. For every urban resident reached with a decent household toilet, another two join the queue to wait. 

The National Action Plan commences with an 18-month emergency plan, followed by a five-year recovery plan and a 13-year revitalisation strategy, towards the 2030 deadline set by the UN Sustainable Development Goals to eradicate extreme poverty and create a healthier, more sustainable planet. It commits the Federal Government of Nigeria and states to establish the institutional and funding foundations for sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services, and to accelerate development towards 2030.


For more information, please contact: 

In Abuja (6-10 Nov) and London: Carolynne Wheeler, news manager, [email protected], +44 7903 117715 

In London: Fiona Callister, global head of media, [email protected], +44 (0)207 793 5022

In Abuja: Oluseyi Abdulmalik, communications and media manager, [email protected]

Or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552 or email [email protected]


WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to clean water and sanitation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 25.8 million people with clean water and 25.1 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org/uk, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

  • 844 million people in the world – one in nine – do not have clean water close to home.[1]

  • 2.3 billion people in the world – almost one in three – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]

  • Around 289,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's almost 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[3]

  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[4]

  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.[5]

  • To find out if countries are keeping their promises on water and sanitation, see the online database www.WASHwatch.org


[1] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[2] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[3] washwatch.org

[4] World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage

[5] www.wateraid.org/uk