Opinion: Why Lagos must face up to its water crisis

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Akinbode Oluwafemi is the Deputy Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of The Earth Nigeria, a Nigerian NGO that tackles environmental human rights issues in Nigeria. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Lagos (CNN)Lagos is a city surrounded by water, yet there is none to drink.

Access to formal clean water is abysmally low, with the majority of Lagos residents relying on the informal sector comprised of wells, boreholes, rivers and rain water.
In 2016 daily demand in the state stood at 724 Million gallons while production was 317 million gallons, leaving a gap of 407 million gallons. Worse still, some of the water never reaches households due to perennial fracture from dilapidated transmission pipes and old trunk lines.
    As water is essential to both physical and economic well-being the lack of it causes numerous problems.
    In Lagos it is a major public health threat because of the interconnectedness of water access to sanitation and public health.
    It has been alleged that there have been a number of deaths in the state due to the consumption of contaminated water.
    The most recent being earlier in the year when two students lost their lives at the prestigious Queens College school in Yaba while 1, 222 became ill after reportedly drinking contaminated water.
    The then principal of the school denied the allegations.
    The negative impact of acute water shortage is not limited to public health. A large part of Lagos' teeming population depend on informal water vendors where average spending on water could be as high as $44 a month almost at par with Nigeria's minimum wage of $47 per month.
    In its Lagos Water Master Plan 2010-2020 the state government said it needs $2.5 billion to revamp water infrastructure, but they have ignored the real cause of the crisis. Instead of looking at water from a human rights perspective they have simply commodified water, and laid the framework for how big corporations can profit from the misery of poor Lagos residents.