The most pressing problems facing Lagos’s water supply will be revealed in new expert analysis conducted by WaterAid, Arup and the Nigerian government, as key policy makers, engineers, experts and investors convene in Lagos to build a clear strategy to address key water issues in the city.

The analysis is set to confirm that rapid economic growth, a rising population, and the impacts of climate change are all affecting the water supply of Lagos and must be addressed if this global economic hub is to continue to grow and prosper.

Pollution from untreated water, sea level rise and industrial processes are potentially undermining the city’s groundwater supply, and flooding is made worse by the refuse blocking its gutters and drains. If protected, this same groundwater could act as a vital buffer to preventing increasingly severe impacts of climate change.

Key water sector stakeholders in the State met on Tuesday 26 September for a crucial water summit to discuss this analysis and prioritise areas for action, including the lack of data on water resources, and the barriers in investing in water infrastructure and services which are worsening these issues.

Stakeholders included Lagos State Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Lagos Water Cooperation, Lagos State Waste Management Office, Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission, Lagos State Resilience Office, development partners and civil society organizations.

Once there is an agreed approach, the Resilient Water Accelerator, supported by the Nigerian, United Kingdom and Dutch Governments, will facilitate the development and design of a sustainable response to these issues, and work with donors and investors to attract much needed finance.

This builds on a year of engagement to help identify the major risks to the city as part of the Resilient Water Accelerator initiative – a collaboration with local actors and sectors supporting climate-vulnerable communities to secure clean and reliable water resources and services. 

The meetings this week mark a turning point in Lagos’ water future as we move much needed water investment to the top of the agenda. Climate impacts are hitting Nigeria hard, with droughts and flooding harming public health, disempowering some of the poorest in society, and disrupting commerce and supply chains. These problems are only increasing, so it is not a question of if there will be investment, but when. We are working in partnership with the authorities, as well as national and global experts, to ensure that we can secure major investment into much needed water services sooner rather than later and set this amazing city onto a green development pathway.

Philip Obosi

Nigeria's Country Lead, Resilient Water Accelerator

The problems and the solutions are well known to us, but as in many cities of this scale, if we are to improve long-term resilience, we must work to understand the main underlying issues that are causing the problems, and then also understand how these problems interact. The City Water Resilience Approach (CWRA) that we have been using, has helped identify several key areas where, if urgent action is taken, will not only resolve pressing water issues, but also boost the ability of the city to address other challenges relating to the quality, quantity and accessibility of water for residents and businesses.

Martin Shouler

Global Water Leader, Arup