Over the last decade, Nigeria has faced significant challenges in ensuring access to clean water, particularly for the poorest and most marginalized communities. According to the World Bank, approximately 60 million Nigerians lacked access to drinking water in 2018. Climate change has exacerbated these challenges, with more frequent and extreme flooding polluting fragile water sources and more prolonged droughts drying up springs. The changing climate has also impacted bodies of water such as rivers and lakes, as well as aquifers and other groundwater reserves. In 2022 Nigeria experienced its worst flooding, with intense rainfall contributing to the disaster. Inadequate drainage systems and poor urban planning have also made flooding a recurring problem in most parts of Nigeria. Additionally, a review of integrated water resources management approaches found that Nigeria suffers from poor water governance, weak policy formulation, and lack of implementation.
Climate factors have also impacted water usage in sectors such as agriculture and industry. Droughts have affected crop yields and livestock production, leading to food insecurity and economic losses. A study on spatiotemporal changes in droughts under different climate change scenarios found that drought frequency in affected areas in Nigeria is likely to increase. Inadequate access to clean water has also contributed to public health crises, with 3 in 10 people in Nigeria lacking clean water close to home, putting them under constant threat from waterborne diseases like cholera.
While research does not confirm specific bodies of water impacted, it is clear that climate change has had a significant impact on Nigeria’s water resources, including rivers, lakes, and groundwater reserves. The reduction in flow rate and network length of large water bodies has directly impacted crop and animal productivity. At the same time, floods, erosion, and droughts have threatened agriculture production and caused soil erosion. These impacts have had significant consequences for the people of Nigeria, particularly those who rely on small-scale agriculture for their livelihoods.
Nigeria has developed several policies and programs to address climate-related water issues. Here are some of the policies and programs that Nigeria is implementing:
- The Nigerian government has developed a National Water Policy outlining strategies for managing and developing water resources in the country.
- In 2021, the Nigerian government declared a state of emergency in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector and launched initiatives to improve access to clean water and sanitation facilities.
- WaterAid Nigeria is working with the government to ensure that access to clean water is at the heart of their climate adaptation and development plans.
- The government is also partnering with the private sector to change water management practices and improve access to clean water.
While Nigeria has progressed in addressing climate-related water issues, there is room for improvement. Here are some suggestions for strengthening these policies and programs:
- The government should prioritize the implementation of the National Water Policy to ensure that water resources are managed sustainably and equitably.
- The government should invest more in water infrastructure development to improve access to clean water and sanitation facilities, particularly in rural areas.
- The government should work with communities to develop and implement climate adaptation strategies tailored to their specific needs and circumstances.
- The government should also improve water governance, policy formulation, and implementation to ensure water resources are managed effectively and efficiently.
This Post was submitted by Climate ScoreCard Nigeria Country Manager Juwonlo Michael.