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World Water Day: CAPPA, others warn govt on water privatisation

Zikora Ibe (left); Akinbode Oluwafemi, and Gbemosola Ahmed |Image:  Robert Egbe

.Say 113m Nigerians lack access to portable water

We wish to re-emphasize today that only democratic ownership and public control of water services can remedy the deep-rooted injustice of water inaccessibility’

By Valentine Amanze

The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) and Our Water Our Rights Africa Coalition (OWORAC) – the Lagos-based Civil Society Organisations – have warned the federal and state governments – to dump the idea of water privatization.

The groups that were marking the 2024 World Water Day in Lagos on Friday, insisted that access to drinkable water was the right of every citicens.

The Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, who addressed journalists at the joint press conference, condemned the government for insisting that public-private partnerships was necessary for effective water delivery to citizens.

Also read: CAPPA raises alarm, wants Sanwo-Olu to terminate Lagos govt partnerships with tobacco industry

Oluwafemi urged the federal and state governments to increase budgetary allocation to revitalise the performance of the water sector including refurbishing dilapidated infrastructure, upgrading existing water works and building new facilities to ensure widespread access to clean and safe drinking water.

His words: “In Nigeria alone, a staggering 113 million people suffer from painful hardship and crippling deprivation of water.

“This saddening neglect is not due to a scarcity of resources but rather a consequence of the profit-driven logic adopted by state authorities in managing water supply and amenities.

“The relentless pursuit of commodifying public resources, at the expense of community welfare has led to the deterioration of vital public utilities and social services.

“While this plight is widespread across the country, the situation in Lagos State is particularly alarming for us.

“Despite the state’s reputation as a lodestar and mega-city, over 8 million of its residents equivalent to roughly 60 percent of its population- grapple with limited access to potable water.

“In 2023, CAPPA drew attention to the sorry-state of several water works in the state, which remain derelict to date.

“One year later, Lagosians still lack running water in their homes, with Water Works remaining padlocked, while citizens are forced to pay exorbitantly to non-state actors for basic water.”

The CAPPA boss further lamented the state’s frequent romanticisation of profit-driven partnership models as purported solutions, despite global evidence documenting the failures of privatising water supply and infrastructure.

“We wish to re-emphasize today that only democratic ownership and public control of water services can remedy the deep-rooted injustice of water inaccessibility.

“For emphasis, we categorically reject any plans by the Lagos State-aided by the influence of international financial institutions and development agencies with a pro-privatization stance to outsource its traditional responsibility of providing water to its citizens to business owners,” he said.

Also, the representative of OWORAC, Comrade Gbemisola Ahmed, supported the views of the CAPPA boss water privatization.

She said that all forms of water privatisation and corporate control of water services must be rejected as they pose fundamental threats to the shared goal of universal access to water.

Her words: “OWORAC seizes this occasion of World Water Day to reiterate its demands that African governments and peoples reject water privatisation and the so-called ‘public-private partnerships’ as false solutions to the very real challenges we face.

“Governments should channel public funds into public service, not incentives that attract privateers. And, most importantly, they must ensure meaningful public participation from communities, civil society, and workers in the decisions that impact the people’s fundamental human right to water.”

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