Léo Heller, UN human rights expert, has called on the Lagos state government for increased funding for water and sanitation in the 2017 budget to address the needs of 21 million residents. According to him, Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, continues to grow while access to basic services could dwindle.
Heller, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights to water and sanitation, commented on the budget, after it was presented by Gov. Akinwumi Ambode to the Lagos House of Assembly, UN Secretary-General’s office said.
He stated that the Government reports showed high deficits in the sector, “representing clearly unacceptable conditions for millions of the megacity’s residents.”
Heller said the annual budget discussion was a chance for the city to take more actions in providing water and sanitation to the people.
He also expressed concerns over the high numbers of vulnerable people.
“There is no question that the city’s water and sanitation sector has deteriorated to this point because of the way it has been managed for many years.”
The Special Rapporteur also presented some alternative solutions to the problem for the State Government to consider.
His suggestions include increasing the effectiveness of the public service provider, adopting necessary financing schemes, and reducing water losses.
“For more than a decade, the Government has adopted a hard-line policy according to which the solution would seem to only attract private capital, notably via public-private partnerships (PPPs).
“Numerous civil society groups have urged the Government to guarantee their right to participate in these processes,” Heller said.
He added that the key to an adequate solution is a participatory process.
According to him, the water and sanitation situation continues to worsen as the population of Lagos increases.
He added that the resources have become scarce, with an estimated 10 per cent of the population having access to water supplied by the State water board.
Heller said residents have also been reported drilling their own boreholes, in hopes to get some water, causing various environmental and health issues, particularly contaminated water consumption.
The Special Rapporteur has reached out to the Nigerian Government earlier this year, and is still waiting for it to provide an update on the water and sanitation issue, the statement said.