Lagos Water Campaign Update

19 March 2016
The African Women Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Network (AWWASHN) calls on the Lagos State government to reject the privatisation of water.

The African Women Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Network (AWWASHN) has joined Our Water, Our Right water privatisation campaign in Lagos, Nigeria.  On 17 March 2016, the women’s network demonstrated in front of Lagos House and delivered a letter to the governor of Lagos. They ask the Lagos government to stop all privatisation and commodification programs; to begin broad public consultation and participation in plans to achieve universal access to water; to disclose all World Bank activity with the Lagos government, and to fully uphold the human rights to water and sanitation.

The campaign convened a summit in August 2015 as a means to increase the pressure on the government of Lagos and to strengthen the network between trade unions and civil society organizations. The outcome document outlines a clear program of action.

In an interview with PSI, the union AUPCTRE outlined the key elements of the campaign, which include :

  • developing research to understand the motives and the implications of the privatization policy
  • raising awareness with union members on the dangers of privatization
  • building alliances with civil society organizations
  • developing messages for the media
  • organizing demonstrations to grab the popular attention and to pressure politicians

Some of the key concerns for the union include the fact that the government seems unable to meet its commitments or campaign promises, and that when the World Bank arrives with the privatization plan, it is accepted as a way out. The issue of corruption remains central, as many of the elected and senior officials may anticipate personal gain.  As well, the union is concerned that the bribes will be offered to certain union members in order to divide the union.

The NGO Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) confirm the positions of AUPCTRE and add their concern that many government officials are likely unaware of the implications of a PPP concession. ERA/FoEN is in regular contact with the media, and conducted a Journalist Training on Reporting the Water Sector as a key element in raising public discourse and awareness.

In the coalition, each partner brings a number of attributes to the campaign: the trade union is able to mobilize many of its members with relatively short notice; the union also has experience in engaging government officials. The NGO is able to reach out to the media and to a variety of community groups, and can broaden the messages about the dangers of privatization.

Once the privatization policy is defeated, the really difficult work will begin. This will require building public participation mechanisms to guide the strengthening of the Lagos State Water Corporation.

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