|Promoting a sustainable energy future|
After the failure of the National Water Rehabilitation Project, that was supposed to provide water for the entire population, both the Minister of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the World Bank Country Director pointed fingers at each other. The Minister accused the World Bank of contributing nothing meaningful. The Nigerian World Bank director said that the Nigerian government didn’t meet its financial obligation and called it the most corrupt project the World Bank had ever worked on.
As blame is thrown, the facts remain that an estimated 80 million Nigerians still do not have access to potable water and that Nigerians will be expected to pay for a project that had no significant results.
Floods, pollution, inadequate water treatment plants and lack of access to water is part of daily existence in Nigeria. Shell’s crude oil mines pollute the environment and rivers, killing fish that people rely on for food. Levels of lead, iron, boron and nitrates above the World Health Organization’s permissible standards, are found in groundwater near oil spills. The dam failure in Kainji, in 1999, lead to a colossal loss of lives and property, yet the World Bank continues to sponsor dams. In Lagos, pipes run through gutters and many people have to get water sold in jerry cans from vendors. The majority of Nigerians will suffer increasing hardships as their government attempts to pay the US$30 billion in debts that have resulted from the $1billion in loans from the World Bank. As the currency is being devalued people are earning less and spending more of it on water.
But resistance is mounting. Workers demonstrated at a May Day rally with coffins proclaiming the death of the privatization agenda. The House of Representatives passed motions openly criticizing privatization enterprises. As awareness grows on the pitfalls of privatization so does resistance. This has forced the World Bank to reassess the privatization of the delivery of water in the Nigerian capital Lagos.
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