Executive Director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, Akinbode Oluwafemi, has called on the government, relevant authorities and stakeholders in the water industry, to push efforts towards making water available through public ownership.
According to the director, privatisation of water in Nigeria is a threat at all levels. He observed that “for four consecutive years, we have wrestled against the private capture of our public water resources, disguised in the provision of the ‘packaged’ Nigerian Water Resources Bill” with activists battling plans by the government to privatise water through an unpopular and widely criticised National Water Resources Bill.
Olwafemi, speaking in commemoration of the 2023 edition of Water Day celebration, titled – ‘Our Water, Our Right,’ noted that privatisation of water denies Nigerians their right of access to clean water.
A 2020 report by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and UNICEF found that one-third of the Nigerian population drinks contaminated water at home and 46 million people are still practicing open defecation.
It also found that the amount and quality of water for individual use is lower than the required standard. The average amount of water each person receives in Nigeria is 9 litres per day while the minimum acceptable range is between 12 and 16 litres per day, according to national standards.
Similarly, data from Global Waters Organisation under the USAIDS says only 48 percent of the Nigerian population have access to basic clean drinking water sources.
Speaking, Oluwafemi admitted that though through no fault of Nigerians, citizens have been saddled with the task of providing water for themselves, further making access to clean water more difficult and expensive for people who cannot afford to set up their own boreholes.
“Water privatisation is a failed option which only puts profits above people,” Oluwafemi noted.
He stressed that the evidence of failed privatisation schemes across the world for decades, have made it clear that the country must accelerate change, away from the exploitative model of privatisation, and in favour of democratic public ownership and control of water resources.
He maintained that the everyday experience of communities in Nigeria and Africa reveals the realities of the water crises suffered by hundreds of millions, which he said is a “sharp deviation” from expectations, arising from the 201 Resolution 64/292 of the United Nations Assembly, which explicitly recognises the human right to water and sanitation.
The CAPPA boss also found the continued role of water privatising corporations and their representatives in the United Nations gatherings very disturbing.
“For instance, AquaFed, the organisation representing the abusive industry on the world stage is coordinating World Water Day! This is a slap in the face of water just and must end!” He pointed out.
In addition, he said there have been “Very disturbing accounts of the abuse of multinational corporations, such as Veolia and Suez, both members of AquaFed, have led communities across the continent to reject water privatisation in its many forms, including so-called public-private partnerships.”
The director therefore advocated increased funding for public water systems, while also reiterating support for public, democratic control of water resources, by asking world authorities to shun privatisation agenda in Africa.
Source: Punch NG