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Urban sanitation in Nigeria: the past, current and future status of access, policies and institutions

Obiora B. Ezeudu


Though rated among the largest economies in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria is currently grappling with enormous socio-economic challenges such as high poverty rate, power and water supply shortages, large-scale unemployment ratio, economic recession and underperforming agricultural sector. Judging by the scale of urgent political and economic importance, urban sanitation definitely ranks low among the government’s priorities. No wonder political slogans and manifestos of political parties feature provision of water supply while sanitation is conspicuously usually omitted. This is suggestive of the opinion that having not critically understood the status, challenges and opportunities associated with sanitation in the country’s urban areas might be partly responsible for this. Thus, the current work presents a detailed review of the past, current and future status of urban sanitation in Nigeria in terms of access coverage, policies, institutions and future challenges and opportunities. The past status was difficult to evaluate because of the absence of data and unclear definitions of the term ‘sanitation’. The current status shows among other findings that water supply issues receive domineering attention than sanitation, mainly due to merging together of discussions, policies and implementation of the two issues together. In cases where sanitation crops up in the agenda, rural areas are favored more than the urban areas. This pattern is also common in the literature. But the future of urban sanitation in Nigeria is double-edged depending on actions or inactions of the government and other stakeholders. The study further makes recommendations for – balanced and sustainable urban development planning, restructuring of land and housing policies and creation of enabling market environment that could trigger a viable sanitation industry – as the way forward.

  1. Research funding: None declared.

  2. Conflict of interest: None declared.

  3. Informed consent: Informed consent is not applicable.

  4. Ethical approval: The conducted research is not related to either human or animal use.


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Received: 2019-04-15
Accepted: 2019-09-19
Published Online: 2019-11-22
Published in Print: 2020-06-25

©2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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