GENEVA Dec 22 Nigeria's commercial capital
Lagos faces an acute water crisis that is creating unacceptable
conditions for millions of people, according to an independent
expert appointed by the United Nations.
The 21 million residents of Lagos, which is built on a
lagoon, struggle to find water suitable for drinking and
sanitation. Estimates suggest only one in 10 people have access
to water supplied by the state utility provider, according to
This has been compounded by years of mismanagement, said Léo
Heller, the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights to water
and sanitation, after Lagos's state governor presented a
proposed budget for 2017 to the Lagos House Assembly.
"Government reports indicate alarmingly high deficits in the
sector, representing clearly unacceptable conditions for
millions of the megacity's residents," a U.N. statement quoted
Heller as saying.
More funding could be used to improve the state utility
provider, adopt financing schemes and reduce water losses, he
Lagos is the biggest city in Africa's most populous nation.
A state government spokesman declined to comment.
Despite having Africa's largest economy, Nigeria has one of
the highest child death rates from water-borne diseases in
Africa. It has sought international development help to finance
new water treatment plants and expand its distribution networks.
As a result of the creaky public water system, many
residents rely on private water suppliers, or bore into pipes
themselves. Damaged pipes leak millions of gallons of treated
water, about one-quarter of the supplies meant for homes,
schools, hospitals and industry.
Water rights activists, labour unions and environmentalists
blame the failure on the endemic corruption that permeates so
much of Nigeria, which ranks in the bottom fifth on Transparency
International's Corruption Perception Index.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Additional reporting by Alexis
Akwagyiram in Lagos; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Mark