Christian Maduka (Communications and Social Marketing Expert, PH)
March 1, 2017

Rivers State Government and the Port-Harcourt Water Corporation (PHWC) have embarked on implementing a project to provide water and sanitation services for the population of Port-Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Authorities (LGAs).

The project is part of a sector wide institutional reform embarked on by the Rivers State Government, and is planned to be implemented with parallel financing support by the African Development Bank (AfDB) under the Urban Water Reform and Port-Harcourt Water Supply and Sanitation Project, and by the International Development Association (IDA), hereafter also referred to as World Bank (WB), under the Third National Urban Water Sector Reform Project (NUWSRP3). The planned allocations to Rivers State include USD 200 million in AfDB funds and USD 80 million in IDA funds. The Rivers State Government co-financing amounts to USD 48 million.

The current population in the two LGAs is about 1.3 million, rapidly increasing, and expected to reach 4 million by 2040.

Water is central to human survival
Water is central to human survival

Currently, its citizens do not benefit from any water services of acceptable quantity, quality or reliability standards, as the water system is considered to be largely non- functional. As a result, the population obtains water from a combination of private boreholes/shallow wells (directly in their household or bought through intermediate vendors) and water sachets, with varying quality, costs and availability.

For sanitation, most households in Port-Harcourt and Obio/Akpor are served by toilets with on-site septic tanks or household pit latrines, while most public centers such as markets and lorry parks lack adequate facilities.

The project aims to improve access to safe water supply and public sanitation services in Port- Harcourt and Obio/Apkor and also to establish sound performance and long-term viability of the Port- Harcourt Water Corporation to ensure sustainability of services provided.

To this effect, the project is structured around four components: (i). Rehabilitation and expansion of the existing water infrastructure and construction of public sanitation facilities; (ii) Institutional Support covering capacity building of the recently established Port-Harcourt Water Corporation, consumer outreach, environmental protection, and longer-term planning for comprehensive sanitation services; (iii) Establishment of Public Private Partnerships for sustainable service operations; and (iv) Project Management. The population in the project area is primarily low income households, which requires special considerations in delivery mechanisms and tariff setting for affordability and sustainability.

The objective of the project is to increase access to potable water to 100% in the State. Notable projects identified in the development plan are: Port-Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Water Supply Scheme, Resuscitation and O&M of 40 water supply stations (incl. Port-Harcourt) and Hydrological and hydro-geological surveys and monitoring of groundwater in the state

For environmental sanitation, the State aims to ensure a pollution free environment and promote a healthy and sustainable green eco knowledge, attitude and practices of environmental sanitation improved and environmental standards and sanitary regulation enforced; (ii) All drainages are clean and flow freely to where they are channeled; (iii) 90% of population have access to internationally accepted excreta disposal systems, including modern sewerage treatment plants (iv) Rid the streets of Port-Harcourt of refuse sites; (v) Increase revenue base of the state through waste management; (vi) Implementation of integrated waste management system. Projects identified include: Construction of drainages in the State andWaste management (solid waste), hygiene education and promotion in 23 LGAs

Sanitation is also included and transport agenda which in aims the to “make State’s the State best in the country in terms of road network and drainage and system,” has identified (i) a comprehensive Drainage Master Plan for Port-Harcourt and Local Government Areas headquarters to be developed; and (ii) Town Planning which includes the preparation of master plans and design layouts for Port-Harcourt and other centers to face the challenge of an increasing population and inadequate infrastructure.

The Objectives of the Sector reform were to: Ensure that the existing abundant water resources of the state are provided in a sustainable and affordable manner. It appears there is a lot of water all over the state but none to drink; improve the overall efficiency and strengthen the institutions to deliver services effectively whilst maintaining standards in terms of quality and quantity. The corporation shall ensure customer satisfaction and be able to attract the right investment from the private sector; Create the enabling environment for Private Sector involvement in the water sector; and Promote the fact that water is both an economic good as it is a social good by encouraging and sensitizing customers to now pay for water to ensure the sustainability of the service for the future. Reform implementation focuses on addressing the challenges of governance, infrastructure, capacity, and funding.

The expected results from this gigantic include but not limited to the following: PHWC capacitated with the skills and tools necessary to ensure service delivery in line with international best practice, and commercial viability, A Public Private Partnership (Management Contract or similar) established, outsourcing the daily operations of the water system put in place , Pro-poor Unit established within PHWC, and the social connection fund is operational, Customer awareness raised for water conservation and the need to pay for water services, Tariffs applied that balance affordability with commercial viability and operational cost recovery, Climate Change Adaption and Mitigation plans established for PHWC operations, including Groundwater protection and monitoring, Key stakeholders (outside of PHWC) are capacitated with the skills and tools necessary to coordinate, oversee, and guide the continued and expanded water service provision in Port-Harcourt and Jobs created in relation to the scaled up water services (mainly operators)

This Project is part of 3rd Urban Water Sector Reform jointly funded by the WB and AfDB scheduled to be executed in 12 states of Nigeria. The Port Harcourt Water and Sanitation component of this Project was launched in Port Harcourt by the Governor of Rivers State Barrister Nyesom Wike on 15 April 2016 with Ramboll Environ Denmark as the Project Management Consultant. The project has long commenced with submission of its Inception Report and initial critical stakeholder’s engagement activities.

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