The Our Water Our Right Coalition (OWORAC) reconvened on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, after a long break. The scores of civil society practitioners, trade unionists, and community residents that turned up at the meeting including the vibrant conversations that characterized the reunion reflected the shared aspirations of OWORAC to rev up campaigns for water justice across communities in Nigeria and Africa.[spacer height=”25px”]
The meeting afforded the coalition members who hadn’t seen each other in a while, the opportunity to exchange comradely banters, share updates on water struggles, and kick-start the coalition’s routine advocacy campaigns on emerging issues of water security, and threats of water privatization.[spacer height=”25px”]
During the course of the meeting, the coalition also reviewed some of its wins and struggles in the journey for water justice in Africa which include but are not limited to – its public health campaign for the supply of adequate and clean water to Nigerians at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 – the strong opposition and successful country-wide campaigns against the passage of a National Water Resources Bill in Nigeria that sought to commercialize public access to water among other contentious details – the launch of a yearly Africa Water Week of Action to build resistance of civil society and labour to threats of water privatization across countries in Africa.[spacer height=”25px”]
[spacer height=”25px”]Further discussions included plans to draw a campaign calendar for the coalition’s advocacy activities on water justice; strategies to ensure social accountability in water as a campaign priority in the country’s forthcoming 2023 election cycle; proposals to trigger water campaigns in informal communities lacking access to water, and strengthen the capacity of trade unions such as Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) to challenge the corporatization of water, andincreasing redundancy of workers, as a result of poor water infrastructure, services, and management.[spacer height=”25px”]
As talks heightened at the meeting, the OWORAC bemoaned the lingering issue of water challenges in Lagos State. In particular, the coalition mourned the comatose conditions of the state’s major and mini waterworks that ought to be in good working conditions to supply water to residents. The city’s daily water demands outmatch the production and supply of the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC). Even though the Lagos State Water Supply Master Plan estimates daily water demand in the city at 540 million gallons per day (GMD), the LWC struggles to produce half of the estimated water supply. Lagos has three major waterworks and 48 mini waterworks, yet the city suffers perennial water challenges with interventions to address these challenges often focused on just the major waterworks. This deficit in water not only shortchanges inhabitants of critical water supply but also affects the productivity and performance of workers in charge of supplying water.[spacer height=”25px”]
Key outcomes of the meeting were the resolutions of the OWORAC to embark on campaigns to compel the Lagos State government to revive the functionality of mini waterworks in the city’s suburbs, schedule campaign outreaches to different communities lacking access to water, launch an offensive to demand public accountability in water management. The meeting finalized with renewed commitments from members to advance the struggle for water justice in Nigeria and Africa. The OWORAC is made up of activists from Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda among other African countries working collaboratively to push back against water privatization and injustice.