#ClaimYourWaterRights Project 2020

The rights of over 55 million Nigerians who do not have access to basic safe water, are daily violated. Citizens know and demand your rights!


What is #ClaimYourWaterRights?

#ClaimYourWaterRights is a mass mobilization campaign that aims to awaken people to the injustice of their situation and spur them to claim their human rights to safe water and sanitation.

The campaign was initiated by End Water Poverty coalition and implemented by coalition members in different regions of the world. In Nigeria, Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation was nominated to champion the campaign.

Why human rights? Human rights are the best legal protection we have. As duty-bearers, governments and contracted private companies are obliged to fulfil people’s human rights. As rights-holders, people have the power to challenge the denial of these rights.

Why now? We have just ten years to achieve universal access to water and sanitation (SDG 6). We have no time for false promises. We need urgent financing and delivery of services. Around 2.2 billion people lack safe water while 4.2 billion people do not have safe toilets. This is not an inconvenience; it is a grotesque injustice.

Overall Goal

To alleviate water poverty and empower citizens (mainly young people and marginalized groups) to claim their human rights to safe water and sanitation

What we hope to achieve

Increased citizen recognition and demand of their human rights to safe water and sanitation

Increased clean water supply in target cities

How do we achieve the campaign goal

The goal of the campaign will be achieved through the following key activities:

  • Engagements with National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on human rights to water and sanitation
  • Citizens engagements and sensitization to understand the process of filing complaints to NHRC
  • Engagements with state and federal government officials to commit them to enshrine human rights to safe water and sanitation in States and National Water Resources bill, respectively
  • Engagements with state water utility providers
  • Mass rally and media features with reference to human rights to water and sanitation.
How do we measure our progress?

To measure our progress, we will be tracking the following:

  • Engagement meetings held with NHRC on human rights to water and sanitation
  • Human rights workshop and complaints on human rights to water and sanitation filed by citizens to NHRC
  • Commitments by state and federal governments to enshrine human rights to water and sanitation in the National Water Resources bill.
  • Media hits and features with reference to human rights to water and sanitation
  • Water schemes rehabilitated or installed as a result of the campaign
Target States and Cities

Hope Spring will be carrying out this campaign in the following states of Nigeria:

  • Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
  • Enugu (Enugu metropolis)
  • Ogun (Abeokuta, Ijebu ode)
Keep track of Success Stories from the Campaign

Hope Spring will be carrying out this campaign in the following states of Nigeria:

  • Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
  • Enugu (Enugu metropolis)
  • Ogun (Abeokuta, Ijebu ode)
Success Stories: 63 CSO Representatives sign petition to include Human Rights to Water in National Water Resources Bill

On the 8th of October 2019, Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation, initiated an online Call-to-Action requesting state governments to take two key actions in their respective states:

  • Declare a state of emergency in their respective WASH sector
  • Align with the federal government’s revitalization plan and ODF Road Map to end open defecation in their states.

The petition also called on the federal government to take one critical action:

  • Enshrine and respect human rights to safe water and sanitation in the National Water Resources bill yet to be passed into law, as this would ensure that the gains made by the ‘Clean Nigeria’ campaign are sustainable and also secure access for future generations.

The three weeks online petition was endorsed by 63 CSO representatives, who also left key messages for the states and federal government. Some of the key messages stated by representatives can be found below:

“Declare a state of emergency in Enugu WASH sector. Make WASH a priority. Increase WASH budgets in Enugu State and bring an end to Enugu Water Scarcity”.

“It is usually awful having to be pressed and in need to use a toilet facility and not having access to one. This is the country’s capital, if we cannot have access to toilets to use, obviously people will turn to open defecation. Toilet is a necessity. It is natural for one to pee and shit, and it comes calling anytime it wants”.

“Stop open defecation in Lagos. Especially in Ebute Ero. We need to save our water ways, marine life and prevent an epidemic outbreak from these poor hygiene practice”.

“My amiable smart governor of Delta State, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Athur Okowa. Clealiness is next to godliness they said. WASH programme is very vital to the health of Deltans, please integrate to every part of the state. Institute ward, LGA and State coordinators for effective WASH programmes”.

“Here we come Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Let join hands together clean,Sanitised kano State and fight open defecation  Across 44 Local Government of Kano State”.

“He should ensure right to water and sanitation equally and without discrimination in the state” – (To Taraba State Government).

“Report says the largest population of people that defecate in the open reside in North Central. It’s impossible for government to build toilet for all household but the government should do more in the area of awareness. Government should see to it that all government owned building such as schools have good toilets. And the condition (neatness) of such toilet should be part of the principal KPI”.

“More than 70% of schools in Kaduna lack WASH facilities. I call on the government to expedite action in reversing this trend as it is only healthy children that can learn effectively”.

“We need a lasting solution to water problems in Sokoto state, a large number of Sokoto residents consume water which is generally less than hygienic and filled with other particles. Many houses in Sokoto do not have tap water and have to resort to buying water pushed in wheel barrows from hawkers. This is a serious threat to our health”.

“Public toilets and water should be provided in all public places and parks in all cities and bigger communities in Akwa-ibom and Nigeria as a whole”.

“His Excellency, let the youth be empowered so that they can go into communities especially those of riverine area to educate the communities on dangers of ODF. They should be provision of toilet and quality water to them. This will decrease the rate of ODF in such communities. Thanks H.E”

For full details of the “Call-to-Action”, check the link to the online petition below:


Success Stories: Enugu State declares a state-of-emergency on water after human rights campaign

On 23 January, Enugu State declared a state-of-emergency in its Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector. The state government also established an 18-member inter-ministerial committee to revamp the WASH sector. The declaration came after a series of advocacy meetings between state officials, Enugu’s water utility provider, the ministry of water resources, and civil society organizations, to reinforce Nigerian citizen’s rights to safe drinking water.

Enugu State is commonly referred to as the capital of southeastern Nigeria and is well known for its abundant natural reserves of coal. Enugu has been plagued with perennial water scarcity that is exacerbated by the state’s topography. This makes it difficult to access groundwater. According to WaterAid Nigeria, over half (2.37 million) of Enugu residents lack basic water services. Further, their research shows that lack of access to WASH is a major contributor to poverty and poor health with almost one in ten children under age five being stunted. Despite several funding interventions by the state government and international development organizations such as The World Bank, millions of people in Enugu are still denied their human rights to safe drinking water.

Disturbed by such stark statistics, Hope Spring Water targeted Enugu as a key state to implement the #ClaimYourWaterRights campaign, which seeks to end water poverty through mobilizing people to advocate for their human rights to safe drinking water.

This declaration shows the government have recognized the decay in water and sanitation services and are ready to revamp the sector. The 18-strong inter-ministerial committee comprises of experienced directors, officials from Enugu’s water corporation as well as heads of state ministries such as health, water resources, justice and environment. Civil society organizations (CSOs) are also represented.

Two key outcomes are expected from this declaration:

1) Improved water supply in Enugu State.

2) End open defecation in Enugu State.

This declaration is a great step forward for the #ClaimYourWaterRights team in Enugu that gives us impetus to further amplify the campaign.

The #ClaimYourWaterRights team with Dubem Onyia Jnr.

Immediately after the declaration, the #ClaimYourWaterRights team, led by Hope Spring Water, visited the Special Adviser to Enugu’s Governor on Water Resources, Dubem Onyia Jnr. – who will head the interministerial committee – to learn their plans to improve the state’s water supply. Onyia confirmed the government’s commitment to ending water poverty in Enugu, while stating that the government has already started to rehabilitate most of the state’s water production and distribution networks. He reiterated that the state government has approved funds for the rehabilitation of the 9th mile water supply scheme that is due to be completed by April 2020.

Onyia also confirmed that the state’s WASH Policy, which has long stalled, would be passed into law before the end of January. Another development is an ongoing dialogue for the receipt of $50 million from the French Development Agency (AFD) for the revamp of Enugu State Water Corporation. In terms of advocacy and capacity building, he reiterated the need to collaborate with civil society and development partners.

Nigeria is the open defecation capital of Africa: out of 774 local government areas, only 16 have been certified open defecation free (ODF). Of the 16 areas that are ODF, none are in the southeast. Following the state-of-emergency declaration, it is expected that Enugu will produce the first ODF local government in the southeast. Onyia expressed his willingness to make this happen. The #ClaimYourWaterRights team will continue to engage the government at various levels to ensure the proposed plans are implemented.



Lessons learnt: 

  • We observed a deep lack of knowledge around the human rights to water amongst from both duty bearers (politicians) and rights holders (the public). Sustained sensitization of both parties is imperative.
  • Holding strategic planning meetings with engaged civil society organizations was instrumental in amplifying the campaign’s key messages.
  • The campaign’s success largely hinged on having separate meetings with key stakeholders such as water ministry officials.
  • Presenting case studies was key in drawing government attention to the plight of people living without safe water. 

Next steps:

  • Follow up with Dubem Onyia Jnr. to facilitate the passing of the WASH bill into law.
  • Follow up with Dubem Onyia Jnr. to help ensure the AFD releases the $50 million fund for Enugu State Water Corporation.
  • Follow up on plans for the rehabilitation of the 9th mile water scheme.
  • Schedule a site visit to various water treatment plants in the state.
  • Host a radio programme to sensitize the public on their rights to water and the implications of the state-of-emergency.
Success Stories: Ogbete Main Market Abbatoir Reconnected to Pipe-borne Water after 4 Years

Have you been consuming infested meat? How would you feel when you find out that the meat you consume daily comes from a slaughterhouse that has been without clean water supply for four years? This is the present condition of the Abbatoir in Ogbete Main Market, Enugu State, Nigeria. Considering the importance of this facility to Enugu residents, the #ClaimYourWaterRights team in Enugu engaged with the Executives of Enugu Urban Butchers Association, Ogbete Main Market branch, to find a lasting solution to this debacle.

The Abbatoir in Ogbete Main Market, Enugu state, is the major slaughterhouse where meat for human consumption are processed, stored and supplied to majority of Enugu residents. The facility built in 1982 with a holding capacity of 500 cows and 240 retailing slabs, is now overstretched and waste generation from the facility poses grave environmental and health risks to both suppliers and consumers, if not well handled.

In an engagement meeting with the Executives of the Enugu Urban Butchers Association in Ogbete Main Market, the Secretary of the Association, Chief Osita Ike, stated that despite having water pipes connected to the facility by the state water corporations, the facility has not had pipe-borne water supply for over four years. Hence, the butchers rely on water vendors that supply water with wheel barrows, usually in 20 litres containers. He further stressed that the association took it upon themselves to improvise by providing two hand-dug wells stationed at strategic locations close to the facility, whilst also installing a water storage tank within the facility. However, he reiterated that during dry seasons, both wells are usually dry.

Figure 1: Open Well that serves Enugu Urban Abbatoir in Ogbete Main Market

The Executives led the #ClaimYourWaterRights team to an overhead water tank, which is meant to be a reservoir serves as a supplementary source of water supply to the facility, but has been abandoned for over 30 years.

After debriefing them on their human rights to water and the need to demand for their rights from the state water corporations that has been mandated to supply water to Enugu metropolis, the Vice Chairman of the Association, Mr. Nnaemeka Nworie, confirmed that they recently approached the state water corporation to restore pipe-borne water supply to the facility but are yet to get any tangible result. The Executives further stated that they are willing to fix the broken pipes at their own expenses but would still need the services of experts from the State Water Corporation. 

Figure 2: #ClaimYourWaterRights Campaign Coordinator, briefing executives of Enugu Urban Butchers Association on the Campaign

The #ClaimYourWaterRights team embarked on the steps to guide the members of the Executives to demand their rights and ensure the facility is re-connected and clean water supplied to the facility.

The meat Enugu residents consume daily mostly come from this source. You cannot imagine what lack of water in such a vital facility could portend for the health of both consumers and suppliers. Bringing back pipe-borne water supply to this facility would be another major milestone, which the Enugu State #ClaimYourWaterRights team hope to achieve in coming days.

After three weeks of engagement with the State Water Corporation and facilitating interactions between the Market Executives and the State Water Corporation, the facility was reconnected to pipe-borne water supply.

Figure 3: Pipe Connections to Ogbete Market Abbatoir, before and after human rights campaign

Success Stories: The quest to end water poverty in enugu state: human rights campaigners’ joins state to assess water scheme

This is a peculiar season for Enugu residents, hardly any day goes by, without sights of children carrying water containers, in search of water. For houses that depend on well water, the wells are usually dry and for those in public residential buildings, the struggle is always to be the first to wake & fetch he small quantity of ‘clear water’ that is available in the well.

Figure 1: Young boy captured carrying water at Nsukka, Enugu State

Water poverty has been a clog in the wheel of sustainable development for the people of Enugu state. A situation that has led the state to declare a state of emergency in its water sector. Following this declaration, the #ClaimYourWaterRights team have been engaging key stakeholders on ways to alleviate water poverty in the state.

It is no longer news that the State Water Corporation, mandated to supply water to residents of Enugu metropolis, holds the key to bringing an end to water poverty in Enugu metropolis. There are several water schemes cited within the state, but none is working at full capacity, mainly because of short supply of power to pump water from the different production sites to the reservoirs and distribution pipes. The issue of power has been an albatross for years, not just for the state water corporation, but for Nigeria, at large.

Poor power supply has remained a major challenge faced by Enugu State Water Corporation in consistently supplying pipe-borne water to Enugu residents. Whilst the government, through the ministry of water resources and Water Corporation, grapples with various options to solve this seemingly intractable debacle, there is need for the state government to leverage on the states’ natural endowment and fully harness the low-hanging fruits which offers itself as a veritable alternative to augment water supply in Enugu State.

The Iva Valley head works is a water supply scheme, which does not require much energy for its operations, as the water flows by gravity. Despite this distinct features, the scheme, which has the capacity to supply about 4,500 cubic metres of water per day, only supplies about 1,500 cubic metres per day (below 50% working capacity).

The #ClaimYourWaerRights team, led by Engr. Eze Chidozie, the Managing Director (MD) of Enugu State Water Corporation and the Special Adviser (SPA) to the Governor on water resources, Hon. Dubem Onyia Jnr. (also the chairman of the states’ inter-ministerial committee on water, sanitation and hygiene), embarked on an assessment visit to the Iva Valley head works. The water scheme cited within a thick, swampy forest, is not accessible by cars, hence, the team had to access the site by foot.

Figure 2: The MD of Enugu State Water Corporation and the SPA to the Governor on Water Resources, leading the #ClaimYourWaterRights team on an assessment visit to Iva Valley Water Scheme

According to the MD of Water Corporation, there are several issues that have hindered the full functionality of the scheme. Vandalism is one major challenge faced by the corporation in effectively managing the scheme. Due to its isolated location, it’s often difficult to guard against vandalism. On the other hand, he pointed out that the indiscriminate drilling of boreholes in the environs, results to low yield from the scheme, especially during dry seasons, as most of the boreholes share the same aquifer as the scheme.

Figure 3: The MD of Enugu State Water Corporation explaining the challenges faced by the Iva Valley Water Scheme

 According to the SPA to the Governor on water resources, the management will meet to address most of the challenges observed during the assessment visit. One of the urgent measures to be put into force to check the indiscriminate drilling of boreholes, is the effective implementation of borehole drilling license for both private and commercial borehole drilling in the state. The implementation of this measure is set to take off as soon as the WASH policy, which made provision for the licensing, is passed into law by the states’ House of Assembly.

Figure 4: Hon. Dubem Onyia, showing his support for the #ClaimYourWaterRights Campaign on return from the Assessment Visit to Iva Valley Water Scheme

The Iva Valley water supply scheme, constructed in 1924, holds promising features that makes it suitable as a panacea for perennial water scarcity in Enugu State. The #ClaimYourWaterRights team will continue to follow up with relevant Stakeholders to ensure the scheme operates to its full capacity.

Figure 5: MD of Water Corporation, Engr. Eze Chidozie, showing his support for the #ClaimYourWaterRights Campaign

Success Stories: Alleviating Water Poverty in Nigeria: Hope Spring Water Moves to Bridge the Knowledge Gap on Human Rights to Safe Water

Water is life and yet globally, billions of people still lack access to safe drinking water in their homes. Poverty and hunger across the globe are inextricably linked to water poverty, which is exacerbated by climate change. Consumption of dirty water is the cause of millions of preventable deaths witnessed yearly, and around 297,000 of those deaths are children aged five or below. 

We have just ten years to achieve universal access to water and sanitation (SDG 6) and the world is still off-track. There is need for urgent and pragmatic actions geared towards enhancing service delivery and reaching the marginalized groups. In Nigeria, over 55 million people lack safe water while about 130 million people do not have safe toilets. This is not an inconvenience; it is a grotesque injustice.

Human rights are the best legal protection we have, however, ignorance about these rights have been a huge challenge towards preventing abuse and violation. As duty-bearers, governments and contracted private companies are obliged to fulfil people’s human rights. As rights-holders, people have the power to challenge the denial of these rights.

The United Nations General Assembly 64/292 resolution, recognized access to clean drinking water and sanitation as a basic human right, in 2010 and also acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential for realizing all other human rights. Hence, affirming that the rights to water and sanitation are part of international law and legally binding on countries. This resolution was further consolidated by 193 countries, including Nigeria, committing to achieve universal access to water and sanitation as one of the distinct sustainable development goals, in 2015.

Nigeria’s commitment in these treaties offers leapfrog opportunity to alleviate water poverty in the country. However, citizens’ ignorance about their human rights and how they can claim their rights, has stalled progress in this regard. This dearth in knowledge is also applicable to duty bearers, who are oblivious of their violation of human rights, when they deny the citizens access to clean drinking water.

In a quest to alleviate water poverty, Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation, embarked on a human rights campaign initiated by End Water Poverty, tagged #ClaimYourWaterRights, to mobilize and sensitize Nigerian citizens on their human rights to clean drinking water, whilst also highlighting the various options through which the citizens can claim their water rights. As part of the activities for this campaign, Hope Spring Water, in collaboration with the Phoenix Research Cohort Group, Ogun State College of Health Technology (OSCOHTech), organized a National Workshop on Human Rights to Water on 18th of March 2020, at the College premises, to sensitize Nigerians, especially the youths, on human rights to water. The guest speakers at the workshop include BADR Mohammed Bashir from Nigeria Police Academy and Mr. Temple Oraeki, the Nigeria Country Representative of Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation.

In his speech, BADR Mohammed stated that access to safe water is not just a human right, but a fundamental human right, and should be treated as such. He, however, reiterated that the non-domestication of this right in Nigerian Constitution is a major challenge to realizing this right in Nigeria.

Mr. Temple, in his speech emphasized that the Nigeria is treaty to the United Nations General Assembly resolution 64/292, which recognizes access to safe water as a human right. Hence, Nigeria is obligated by International law to recognize and respect this right. In addition, he stated that there’s a cogent need for “human rights to safe water” to be clearly stated in the National Water Resources Bill, which is currently being reviewed by the National Assembly. He enjoined the participants, especially the students, to work as a unit towards alleviating water poverty in their school and host community.

Barrister Olamide, a representative of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Ogun State Chapter, while addressing the participants, noted that “human rights to water” is relatively new and that they have not received any complaints in that regards. He urged the participants to freely approach the Commission for complaints of violation to their human rights to water. He also shared the commission’s contact details for further engagements with intending complainants.

Mr. Ayoade Adegbite, Director of Academic Planning at OSCOHTech, in his closing remarks, urged the participants at the workshop to share the knowledge they’ve garnered and also urged them to demand their water rights, whilst serving as water rights ambassadors in their various locations.

The workshop was widely attended by representatives from various sectors, including Academia, Human Rights Advocates and experts, Ogun State Ministry of Environment, Ogun State Water Corporation, Ilese Community members, and students of OSCOHTech.

At the end of the workshop, the Institution presented an award of recognition to Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation for their outstanding contribution to the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in Nigeria.

Read more here: https://www.radionigeria.gov.ng/2020/04/06/experts-task-government-on-provision-of-portable-water/

In the Press

– Human Rights Campaigners call for speedy passage of Enugu State Water Bill

on bonanaija.com.ng/


We acknowledge the support of Students of Applied Global Public Health Initiative (AGPHI) – New York University (NYU), in creating these designs and facilitating advocacy on Human Rights to Water in Nigeria through the ClaimYourWaterRights campaign.