Nigeria is one of the 46 Sub-Saharan African countries most affected by the worldwide water crisis. 40 percent of the 783 million people who lack access to clean water reside in Sub-Saharan Africa, and more than 320 million people lack access to safe drinking water.
Africa is also a continent rich in natural resources such as oil, gas, gold, silver, zinc, copper, coal, dolomite, limestone, and marble. However, only 0.5 percent of these resources are extracted annually. The majority is buried under the surface of the earth.
Therefore, Africa has the potential to be a major player on the world stage with regard to water but lacks adequate management systems. The shortage of water on the continent is expected to increase due to an increasing population and changing climate conditions.
In order to meet the needs of its growing population, Africa must improve its ability to predict rainfall patterns and allocate resources accordingly. Currently, no effective long-term plans exist for water management on the continent.
Some countries like Ghana have taken steps forward to manage their water resources. In 2005, it was reported that Ghana had one of the highest rates of investment in water development projects in sub-Saharan Africa. The government has constructed over 1,200 kilometers of canals and pipelines and added capacity to existing facilities.
The nation has access to both surface and subsurface water. Nigeria appears to have enough water supplies, however only 19% of the Nigerian population has access to safe drinking water. This is because Nigeria is experiencing economic water shortage. Water is also used for agriculture, which accounts for 70% of the total water consumption.
The rain in Nigeria falls as thunderstorms, with average annual precipitation of about 40 inches (1000 mm). About 9 out of 10 people live in areas where there is sufficient rainfall to meet their water needs. However, much of this rainwater is lost through leaky pipes and open wells that are not protected from contamination. Rainfall patterns change over time, so even if a country like Nigeria has sufficient water resources, they may not be available where or when needed. For example, during periods of drought, many people are forced to make difficult decisions about how to use their limited water supply.
Nigeria's geography causes it to be vulnerable to climate change. Average temperatures in the north increase by about 1 degree Fahrenheit every decade, while those in the south decrease by about 1 degree F. There is evidence that these temperature changes are causing the Sahara desert to expand north into Nigeria. Climate change will likely lead to less rainfall and more severe droughts in Nigeria, although the extent of these effects is still being studied.
Access to clean drinking water remains a concern in Nigeria, with more than 86% of Nigerians without access to a securely managed drinking water source. The problem is exacerbated by poor drinking water quality and a lack of access equality. More than one in five children die before their fifth birthday, nearly all due to easily preventable or treatable illnesses such as diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria.
Despite these challenges, several initiatives have been launched with the aim of improving access to safe drinking water in Nigeria. In 2014, the federal government announced its intention to provide safe drinking water to every household by 2019. These efforts are being supported by international organizations like the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
In addition to ensuring that every household has access to safe drinking water, efforts must be made to improve water quality. Nearly all drinking water sources in Nigeria are polluted, with an average of 14 bacteria species per 100 ml detected in wastewater samples. Contributing factors include lack of sanitation facilities, inefficient sewage treatment plants, and agricultural practices that result in the runoff of pesticides and fertilizers into waterways.
Water contamination is a major obstacle to accessing clean drinking water for many Nigerians. Approximately 70 million people do not have access to clean drinking water, and this number is expected to increase if current trends continue.