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The largest environmental challenge that Nigeria is facing today is water scarcity. Current water use already exceeds renewable supply. Many methods have been suggested to increase the sources of water supply; and one of these alternative sources is rainwater harvesting (RWH). Rainfall harvesting from rural/urban catchments has received little attention in Nigeria. To better understand common practises in the RWH community and motivation for collecting harvested rainwater a socio-demographic survey was conducted in the 11 local government areas of Ibadan city in Nigeria to determine the rate of water consumption and supply from current water sources. The methodology adopted was the mixed method approach, involving a detailed literature review, followed by a questionnaire survey of 1067 household respondents. The data collected through the survey were analysed using SPSS and selected statistical methods such as Chi-square test. The survey was carried out from July-September 2012 and a response rate of 89% (950 households) was recorded. The survey questions focused on the socio-economic characteristics of households and the sources of water supply, catchment materials, rainwater harvesting technology, purpose of RWH, demand and usage of water, effectiveness of management strategy and environmental health. The most commonly reported source of water supply is groundwater with>83.8% of respondents depend on it as their main source of supply, which are vulnerable to drought and pollution while only 6.6% harvest rainwater. 69% of the respondents have corrugated iron sheet while <14% of the respondent’s roof are made of roofing tiles and cement concrete respectively. 54% of those with roofing tiles use the harvested water for drinking, while 43% of those with cement roofs use it for cooking and drinking respectively. A larger proportion (61.2%) of respondents chose prevalence of typhoid fever in the study area; some have a prevalence of diarrhoea (19.4%), while few of respondents’ water sources is free from water-borne diseases (2.3%). This indicates that there is a prevalence of 97.8% of water-borne diseases. Over 77.1% of respondents did not receive water at all from Water Corporation of Oyo State, while few of respondents did receive water supply. This survey provides critical data about current potable and non-potable RWH practices in Nigeria and can serve as guidance for future RWH research. In particular, the inadequacy of water supply in the City should be investigated further as the demand for sustainable RWH system in Nigeria continues to grow.



The agricultural policy document touches on water management, even though water and water use related issues now fall under the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, and no longer under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. The document notes that Nigeria is blessed with abundant water resources, the potential of which are yet to be fully tapped. Currently large dams constructed in the country have impounded a lot of water with high fisheries and duck farming potentials and having the capacity for irrigation in agriculture. The completion of the outstanding downstream irrigation infrastructures of the already completed large dams in the country will be accorded top priority in order to make them useful to the farmers and to maximize the huge investments already incurred in constructing them. Emphasis will now shift to developing small dams as a more cost effective way of utilizing water resources for irrigation in the country. The maintenance of the existing large dams will continue to be the responsibility of the Federal Government while collaborative efforts of the Water Resources and Agriculture and Rural Development sectors of the economy will be promoted for better use of available water resources and in the supply of farming inputs to the water users of the irrigation projects. In addition, rain harvesting for irrigation agriculture is to be promoted where surface and underground water is not readily available. It is significant that RWH has a mention in this document, even though it would appear in reality that reference to it is essentially cosmetic. The document of the mainline Ministry of Water Resources, where no such mention is made to RWH lends credence to this assertion. Also the reference to RWH here says where other sources of water are not readily available, indicating the lack of adequate understanding of the essence of the multi-dimensional reasons for harnessing rain water by the authors of the policy.


Water is life. Adequate supply of water is central to life and civilization. Of the five basic human needs (water, food, health, education, peace) water is a common factor to the other four. Food production, as well as most of other socio-economic activities, depends on availability of water. Furthermore, the efficiency of food production is currently measured on the basis of a unit increase in the volume of production per unit volume of water. Water has been a very important factor in settlement development in any country where it usually serves as human settlement boundaries.

Nigeria is considered to be abundantly blessed with water resources. The surface water resources potential is estimated at about 267.3 billion cubic metres of water per annum while the ground water resources potential is about 51.9 billion cubic metres of water per annum. However, there is temporal and spatial variation in water availability, the north with low precipitation of only about 500mm in the northeastern corner, and the south with precipitation of over 4,000mm per annum in the southeast. This high variability of rainfall in time and space is a significant characteristic of the tropical climatic belt, especially the Sahelian part of the continent, in which the country is located and this needs to be factored into water resources management in the country. The Nigerian Sahelian belt is at the southern border of the Sahara desert and it is here that the country faces the challenges of high variability in precipitation which has been manifested in the form of persistent drought in the past three decades with its attendant impact on reduction in the extent of wetlands in the Hadejia-Nguru area and the almost complete loss of the Lake Chad.

Nigeria is drained mainly by the River Niger, the River Benue and their main and other numerous minor tributaries as well as by the Lake Chad and the rivers that discharge into it. There are several other perennial rivers, such as Gongola, Hadejia-Jama’are, Kaduna, Cross River, Sokoto, Ogun, Osun, and Imo. Total surface runoff is large. Annual runoff at the Lokoja gauging station on River Niger has been recorded as up to 165.80 billion cubic meters. Volume of available groundwater is also considerable in large sedimentary basins (the Sokoto and the Chad basins) which lie along the country’s international boundaries. Nigeria has a land area of about 924,000 sq km and it is located within the tropics where the climate is semi-arid in the North gradually becoming humid in the South.

For the water resources assessment of the country, automated hydrometric stations have been established in the 8 hydrological areas of the country while some existing primary stations have been upgraded to meet WMO (standards). The Ministry’s National Hydrological Programme has the objective of having 486 hydrological stations to constitute the basic primary network.

Nigeria has a total of 3.14 million hectares of irrigable land which consists of:

1.      2.04 million hectares for formal farmer owned and managed schemes based on conjunctive use of surface water and shallow fadama aquifers; and

2.      1.1 million hectares for formal public irrigation projects.

During the oil boom days of the 1970s and early 1980s, the country invested heavily in water resources development, particularly in the construction of multipurpose dams. The dams were meant to control flood, provide water for domestic and industrial uses, control riparian rights releases and for environmental management, hydro-power generation, fishing, livestock, inland waterways and irrigated agriculture, amongst others. Nigeria today has 200 dams storing up to 31 billion cubic metres of water. Out of these, 11 billion cubic metres are meant to command up to 340,000 hectares of irrigated land. So far, about 100,000 hectares of land have been equipped with the necessary irrigation infrastructure, while only about 60,000 hectares are actually irrigated. About 240,000 hectares of land that can be commanded by the water stored so far need to have the full complement of irrigation facilities in order for the country to derive the benefits fully.

A large percentage of the country’s population does not have access to potable water yet. The Ministry has been collaborating with other sectors that are associated with water resources activities such as Federal Ministries of Agriculture, Environment, Power and Steel; National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and Nigerian Meteorological Services Agency for joint development of the country’s water resources. The institutional arrangement for water resources development and management are such that all tiers of government, that is Federal, States and Local Governments are involved. To boost manpower supply for the water resources sector, the National Water Resources Institute (NWRI), Kaduna was established in 1979. It runs certificate, remedial and National Diploma and Higher National Diploma and professional post graduate courses in water resources. The Institute also runs a Data Bank with data from the eight (8) hydrological areas of the country. The Data Bank also has meteorological data from about 222 stations nationwide.

1.2       Operation and Maintenance

The operation and maintenance of water resources infrastructure has been very poor and the government has become increasingly concerned by this poor level of Operation and Maintenance. The National Council on Water Resources during its 16th Meeting in Asaba in 2002 set up a National Committee to recommend ways and policy initiatives to address the problem in order to make water resources infrastructure sustainable. The safety of all water resources infrastructure should be paramount in order to reap maximum benefits. For instance, large dams and reservoirs must be protected at all times since dam failures with huge uncontrolled releases of water from the reservoirs could result in both destruction of lives and properties downstream of such infrastructure. There is therefore need for adequate and sustainable operation, maintenance and management of the nation’s water resources infrastructure.

1.3       Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation is key to the success of all water resources programmes. However, due mainly to inadequate funding, monitoring and evaluation of the projects of the sector have not been carried out on regular basis.

1.4       Legal Framework

Water resources development is guided by laws and rules such as the following Statutory laws: Water Resources Act 101 of 1993; Minerals Act of 1990; NIWA Act 13 of 1997; RBDAs Act of 1987 and State Water Edicts. These laws are relevant in the development and management of the nation’s water resources. Other Acts associated with water resources are those of NEPA, FME and the 1978 Land Use Act.

1.5       Funding and Financing

The sector has been under-funded because it is almost left to the Government and there is need for active private sector participation. However, the collaboration with External Support Agencies has been encouraging and appreciated.

1.6       Conservation and Integrated Management/Coordination

Previous and current government programmes in the water sector have been centred on water resources development, while proper management and conservation of the resource was not given adequate attention. The previous approach to water resources development and management involved treating water as a public social good. It is centralized and entails topdown, command and control mechanisms.

There have been numerous activities in the area of water resources development in dam construction, urban water supply, irrigation and power generation. Each of these sub-sectors has developed water resources without adequate consultation with other stakeholders which has resulted in underutilization of the facilities provided.

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