Lagos Water Crisis: African, US Coalitions, Global NGOs Petition Gov Sanwo-Olu

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  • Ask US Congress to Take Action
  • Decry Planned Take-Over of Water System by Multinationals

The call to end the water crisis in Lagos continues to gather global momentum as
the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and 13 African American Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have asked the Lagos state government to back down on ongoing plans to hand over Lagos water resources to multinational corporations in whatever disguises and forms of privatization.

In a letter dispatched to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-olu and dated February 4, 2020, the groups expressed their full solidarity with the ‘Our Water, Our Rights Coalition’ — a group of stakeholders that has been fighting against corporate interest in the management of water in Lagos.

The group noted that around the world “black people have borne the brunt of water injustice” by multinationals, hence the need to “redouble efforts to demand that water is a human right globally.”

Rising from its roundtable discussion on water as a human right with African American leaders in Washington D.C., the groups in the letter to Gov. Sanwo-olu said: “We learned about the calculated strategy of multinational corporations to profit from the privatization of water systems in Africa. Nigeria has emerged as the epicenter of this insidious effort. Because of our racial, cultural, and historical relationships with the people of Africa, we have a strong commitment to standing in solidarity with the Our Water, Our Right Coalition in Nigeria.”

The groups while decrying water privatization plans in the country said: “As the people of Lagos, the largest city in Africa, face the ongoing threat of water privatization, the Our Water, Our Rights Coalition stands as a symbol of the power of people coming together and fighting for a water system that serves their communities instead of corporate interests.”

Calling on the Lagos state government to abandon its ongoing privatization efforts and embrace a people’s oriented solution to the water crisis in the state, the U.S based CSOs said efforts are underway to ensure the U.S Congress weigh in on the matter and defend the right of citizens to clean and safe drinking water in Nigeria and across the continent.

“We have requested that the Congressional Black Caucus of the U.S Congress use its full influence to bring attention to the demands of the Our Water, Our Rights Coalition in Nigeria and other community-based grassroots campaigns across the continent. We will defend the right of the people to have clean and safe drinking water as a fundamental human right.”

Signatories to the letter include Rev. Jesse Jackson, President, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Chicago; Hilary Shelton, Senior Vice-President for Advocacy and Director on NAACP Washington Bureau, Washington D.C; Ms. Nkechi Taifa, President, The Taifa Group, Washington DC; Rev. Terrence Melvin, President, Coalition of Black Trade Uninionists, Albany, New York and a host of others.

Across Lagos, residents are currently suffering from the challenges of acute water shortage. An investigation by The New Diplomat had revealed the extent of degeneration in public water infrastructures in the state, as well as funds mismanagement. According to the master plan document of the Lagos Water Corporation, the current water demand in Lagos is 745 million gallons per day, but the public water infrastructures in the state still struggle to hit 210 mdg production daily.

Following the water supply shortfalls, the Lagos state government sees solution in experimenting privatization models that will enable multinational corporations manage the state’s water resources. However, in a campaign that dates back to years, members of ‘Our Water, Our Right Coalition’ have been calling on the state government to stand down on the plan, saying water privatization negates the fundamental human rights of every citizen to portable water and will put the destiny of millions residing in Africa’s most populous city in the hands of rabid capitalists and multinationals with questionable records in countries.

In late 2019, a report published by the Global Water Intelligence (GWI) magazine revealed that despite the hues and cries which had lasted for many years to stop water privatization in Lagos, plans are at their advance stages to privatize the Adiyan II and Igbonla waterworks. Asides these two, other major waterworks in operation in the state are being rounded up for privatization by 2022.

Dr. Ron Daniels, President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Gregory Akili of Corporate Accountability among advocates who spoke with journalists through a video call at a media briefing in Lagos organised by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), urged the Sanwo-Olu-administration to abandon its planned water privatisation and listen to demand for a public water system with its necessary investments working for all Lagosians.

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'Dotun Akintomide's journalism works intersect business, environment, politics and developmental issues. Among a number of local and international publications, his work has appeared in the New York Times. He's a winner of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Award. Currently, the Online Editor at The New Diplomat, Akintomide has produced reports that uniquely spoke to Nigeria's experience on Climate Change issues. When Akintomide is not writing, volunteering or working on a media project, you can find him seeing beautiful sites like the sandy beaches that bedecked the Lagos coastline.

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