Despite big water projects, millions in Nigeria’s rural communities still struggle to get access to safe drinking water

Frustration in Nigeria’s rural areas is still focused on basic needs: access roads, electricity, potable water and health care. Even those who leave the rural areas for the cities face a similar challenge based on population explosion.

And one basic need that is a challenge in both urban and rural areas is access to safe drinking water.

  • The United Nations Children’s Fund cited the 2013 Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey published in 2013 by the National Bureau of Statistics, which showed that nearly 70 million Nigerians lacked access to safe water in 2011.
  • In March, UNICEF said that most of these people without access are poor and live in remote rural areas or urban slums.
  • It said 1,400 children under the age of five died each day from causes linked to lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene globally.
  • And based on that evidence, it placed Nigeria as the third country globally with most people without access to safe drinking water.
  • Really, Nigeria is not on track to reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for water and sanitation. The country’s MDG target of supplying 74 per cent of the population with safe water by 2015 seems a mere dream as it stands.

In Nigeria’s Cross River State where government is making effort to ensure its urban and rural areas have access to safe water, the challenge has been there for many years.

Capital intensive government water projects have been in the pipeline for decades but implementation in Cross River State only started in 1999 after the military intervention of 1993 ended.

Water provision in Cross River has indeed become a case study in Nigeria and many state governments have continued to visit Cross River State to understudy its example.

Apart from the Ikom River which runs through some communities, in others it is far off their locations. Thus, such communities make do with streams, ponds, wells, lakes and rain water. Expectedly, during the dry season, these water sources dry up compounding the water problems of rural dwellers.

The consequence is that residents have to trek long distances into the forest during day and night in search of water. And when found, they have to take turns to fetch the impure water that drops from rocks or gushes out of the ground. Children do most of this search which affects their time of going to school.

Read full article: Nigeria: Potable Water for Cross River Communities (

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