WaterAid began work in Nigeria in 1995 to assist with the vast water and sanitation needs found in Africa's most populous country.
Nigeria has a culturally and ethnically diverse population made up of over 250 groups speaking 400 different languages. WaterAid works with local partner organizations throughout Nigeria, who understand local issues, to implement practical water and sanitation programs, as well as lobbying locally and nationally to change governmental water and sanitation policies.
A mother collecting water from a dirty water hole in Nigeria.
Credit: WaterAid / Suzanne Porter
Although many of the world's most coveted natural resources can be found in Nigeria (namely oil, gold and diamonds), the majority of the population lives in poverty. It is estimated that only half of the 140 million have access to safe water, and even fewer to basic sanitation facilities.
The resulting cost in lost productivity, through both poor health and the time spent collecting water (approximately five hours a day in the dry season) is high.
Following a fragile political history and despite tensions and violence between the various ethnic and religious groups, the possibilities for development have improved.
WaterAid's achievements to date
- Developed a vulnerability ranking system using criteria developed by poor communities themselves in order to prioritize who should receive priority with assistance
- Successfully established partnerships between communities and government
- Shared good practices such as the Local Millennium Development Goals and its monitoring and evaluation system with others in the water and sanitation sector
A woman carries home clean water from a WaterAid-funded pump in Nigeria.
Credit: WaterAid / Suzanne Porter
WaterAid set up its first project in Etche in 1995 to deliver safe and sustainable water and sanitation services to some of the country's poorest communities.
In 1996 focus was moved to Benue State to manage the UK Department for International Development's (DFID) Water and Sanitation Project in Oju Local Government Area. In 1999 WaterAid expanded its activities to Plateau and Bauchi states, based on the high levels of poverty and low access to water and sanitation there.
Throughout these areas, local businesses are contracted to help communities with construction work, such as drilling boreholes, installing handpumps or building latrines and to run 'sani centers' which sell materials for latrine construction.
As well as helping communities establish water supplies and latrines, WaterAid and the local water and sanitation units (WASUs) promote good hygiene behavior such as washing hands and keeping latrines clean. A number of innovative approaches are used, including radio jingles, early morning megaphone announcements and school hygiene clubs.
To encourage work between communities and local governments WaterAid has developed a transparent system for selecting which communities to support and the level of subsidy each household is given. Through a 'vulnerability ranking system' households within communities determine their levels of poverty according to indicators which the community as a whole suggests themselves. By eliminating political interference and introducing a self-selection process, communities have a renewed faith and trust in local governments.
This method of working has proved so successful that is has been imported to other projects funded by the Nigerian Government. WaterAid is also assisting local governments in producing their local development plans. These not only prioritize work and forthcoming plans, but they also help them access funding from other international humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF.
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