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Access To Clean Water Remains A Challenge In Nigeria; Sachet Water Popularly Known As Pure Water Is The Main Source Of Drinking Water For Nigerians

Abuja, Nigeria. March 26th, 2020 – In commemoration of World Water Day, which holds on the 22nd of March every year, NOIPolls conducted a public opinion poll on access to clean water. The poll explored the accessibility of water to Nigerians, the quality and treatment of drinking water and challenges faced in accessing clean water.

The poll revealed that sachet water popularly known as pure water is the main source of drinking water for Nigerians while borehole is the main source of water for household use in the country. It is important to state that it is the responsibility of the government to provide water to all its citizenry through the Ministry of Water Resources[1]. However, the poll revealed that most Nigerians provide their own water. It is important to note that these sources of water, if not properly treated, can put Nigerians at risk of pathogens such as E-coli which cause diarrhoeal diseases and other water-borne diseases.

More findings showed that 64 percent of respondents (except for those whose only source of drinking water is sachet and bottled water) do not treat the water in any way before drinking irrespective of the source. However, 36 percent claimed that they treat their water mostly by boiling (40 percent) before drinking. With regards to access to clean water, 39 percent of Nigerians disclosed that they face challenges in accessing clean water in their respective households. According to the World Bank, accessing clean water is a major factor in reducing child mortality[2]. For instance, more than 70,000 children under five years die annually as a result water-borne disease[3].

Therefore, in order to meet the 6th Goal of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which is to ensure access to water and sanitation for all, government at all levels needs to urgently work towards the provision of improved quality of water and water sources to the citizenry. Finally, though the provision of water supply is capital intensive, it is still a necessity for the well-being of Nigerians. Therefore, Public-Private-Partnership programs should be encouraged to attract investors in order to ensure adequate production, distribution and sale of potable water to all. These are some of the key findings from the Access To Water Poll conducted in the week commencing March 16th, 2020.

Survey Background

World Water Day is a day set aside by the United Nations to celebrate the gift of water to mankind and to also raise awareness regarding the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water for drinking and household use. It is also a day to inspire stakeholders and governments in various countries to take actions in order to tackle the global water crisis affecting the teeming populations of people around the world. A core focus of World Water Day however, is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

World Water Day 2020 is about water and climate change and how the two are inextricably linked and the campaign shows how our use of water will help reduce floods, droughts, scarcity and pollution, and will help fight climate change itself. More so, by adapting to the water effects of climate change, we will protect health and save lives. And, by using water more efficiently, we will reduce greenhouse gases. However, the key messages for the water day 2020 are that people cannot afford to wait, climate policy makers must put water at the heart of action plans as water can help fight climate change[4]. There are sustainable, affordable and scalable water and sanitation solutions and everyone has a role to play.

Statistics has shown that 1 in 3 people around the world live without safe drinking water and by 2050, up to 5.7 billion people could be living in areas where water is scarce for at least one month a year and climate-resilient water supply and sanitation could save the lives of more than 360,000 infants every year[5]. Also, if global warming is limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it could cut climate-induced water stress by up to 50%. Extreme weather has caused more than 90% of major disasters over the last decade. In Nigeria however, statistics has shown that 55 million Nigerians do not have clean water and 60, 000 children under 5 years die every year from water related illnesses[6]. Against this backdrop and in commemoration of the day, NOIPolls conducted this survey in commemoration of World Water Day to gauge the perception of Nigerians regarding their access to water.

Survey Findings

The first question gauged the primary source of water for household use and the poll result revealed that 35 percent stated that their main source of water for household use is from a private borehole. Private borehole includes having your own private borehole or having easy access to a neighbour’s private borehole. The South South zone had more respondents (74 percent) who disclosed that they use private borehole as their main source of water for their household use. 20 percent of the respondents mentioned that their primary source of water supply is from a private well. Other primary sources of water cited include; public borehole (16 percent), tap (14 percent), Public well (6 percent) and water cart vendors (5 percent) amongst other sources.

With regards to opinion on current sources of drinking water, the poll revealed that sachet water popularly known as pure water is presently the main source of drinking water for Nigerian households as disclosed by 46 percent of the respondent interviewed. This is even more popular in the South-East zone with 71 percent of respondents stating that sachet water is currently their main source of drinking water. This is followed by 37 percent of the respondents who admitted that their main source of drinking water is from a borehole. In addition, 13 percent revealed that they currently get their drinking water from tap water (water corporation) amongst other sources.

64 percent of respondents (except for those whose only source of drinking water is sachet and bottled water) do not treat the water in any way before drinking irrespective of the source. This report cuts across genders and age-groups and a further analysis by geo-political zones showed that the South-East zone had the highest (71 percent) number of respondents who do not treat their water prior to drinking. However, 36 percent of the respondents claimed that they treat their water to make it suitable for drinking. The South-South zone had the higher percentage (45 percent) of respondents who admitted this.

Consequently, the 36 percent who admitted that they treat their water before drinking were further probed to ascertain the methods, they employ in treating their water. The poll showed that 40 disclosed that they boil before drinking. This method is particularly perceived by many as the most efficient method of purification because a lot of organisms may not survive when water reaches its boiling point of 100° C[7]. Similarly, 26 percent stated that they use Water Guard to make their drinking water safe. Other methods of treatment employed by the respondents include ‘use of alum’ (20 percent), ’using water filter’ (10 percent) and ‘using chemicals’ (4 percent)

Opinions on challenges in accessing clean water revealed that 39 percent of Nigerian households currently have challenges accessing clean water and the North-Central zone had more respondents who mentioned this (45 percent). On the hand, 61 percent of Nigerians do not see access to clean water as a challenge to their households and the South-South zone had the most respondents who admitted this (79 percent).

Respondents who stated that access to clean water is a challenge to them and their households (39 percent) were further asked: to what extent is the access to clean water a challenge to your household? Results showed that the majority (73 percent) said that access to clean water is a challenge to a large extent for them. However, 27 percent specifically mentioned that access to clean water is a challenge to a little extent for them.

To ascertain the existence of any on-going water project across the country, respondents were further probed and the result showed that majority of the respondents (89 percent) disclosed that they are not aware of any on-going water project in their respective localities. On the contrary, 11 percent acknowledged that they are aware of so on-going water relater projects in their locality.

In conclusion, the poll has revealed that access to water both for domestic use and for drinking is still a challenge to Nigerian households given that borehole (35 percent) and sachet water (46 percent) are mostly used as the main source water. This implies that Nigerians are mostly responsible for providing water for themselves both for domestic use and for drinking. Therefore, it is utmost important that government and other stakeholders ensure that water is made available to Nigerians as 31 percent mentioned that their main source of water supply is not always readily available.

Poor access to improved water in Nigeria remains a major contributing factor to high morbidity and mortality rates among children under five. The poll report showed that 36 percent of Nigerians whose main source of drinking water are borehole, well, stream and water tankers do not treat their water to make it safe before drinking. Hence, it is essential to note that the use of contaminated drinking water result in increased vulnerability to water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea[8].

Survey Methods

The poll was conducted in the week commencing March 16th, 2020. It involved telephone interviews of a proportionate nationwide sample of 1,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geo-political regions and 36 states and the FCT of the country. Interviews were conducted in 5 languages – Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Pidgin English and English. With this sample size and selection, we are 95% confident that the results obtained are statistically precise within a margin of error of plus or minus 4.65%.

We recognize that the exclusive use of telephone polling has its limitation of excluding non-phone-owning Nigerians. Nonetheless, with the country’s tele density put over 97 percent by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), we consider our telephone polling approach appropriate. Also, given the rigorous scientific process of randomization and stratification applied, we are confident of the validity of our methodology and approach. NOIPolls Limited, No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at


This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published.

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.

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