The tap is made of green plastic, with an orange handle. It sticks out of the stone wall, in a row with another seven. These are strong vivid colours, just like the ones worn by the women who come and go from the wall, with a water can in their hands and often with a little head popping out of a kanga baby carrier. Emily Ademola has her youngest son with her, strapped to her back as she comes to fill her water can. "It was very hard before. I used to walk 15 kilometres a day in search of water. And our children sometimes got sick because we couldn't wash them". But as she said, that was before. Now, there is clean water in this suburb of Michika in Adamawa State, in north-eastern Nigeria. As there is in Bama, Biu and Damboa. It came through the wells drilled by Eni and FAO.
Eni's work for the people of Nigeria is nothing new. The Green River Project, a plan to promote advanced agriculture and food security in the country, has been up and running since 1987. It has brought new crops, education and resources to the Niger Delta. "We decided to take action here because of the water emergency in Lake Chad, which was supplying water to the whole area but is increasingly drying up," Valeria Papponetti tells us. He is an advisor on sustainability projects who has been in Nigeria since 2017. The emergency has generated a mass movement of people, with almost 4 million people migrating to other parts of the country. Many have moved to the suburbs of Abuja, the capital, where entire districts of displaced people have sprung up. Here, among the many problems one can imagine, the water problem has also become more acute. Already stretched to the limit for the city's 1.5 million inhabitants, water is now in short supply.
This is why the decision was made to try to help, and to do so in a new way, working with FAO, the UN agency leading efforts to defeat hunger, through a Partnership as provided for in SDG 17 of the 2030 Agenda. "These are two very different organisations, who think and work in different ways, brought together by a common goal. We know how to dig wells, FAO has deep roots in the area and has been able to help us with relationships and in choosing where to work" says Papponetti. The result is 22 clean water wells in as many locations, five in the Abuja territory and 17 in the Northeast, in the states of Adamaua, Yobe and Borno. "They take water from 100 to 140-150 metres underground and are powered by photovoltaics with tanks that hold between 15 and 50 thousand litres" explains Papponetti. Enough to meet the needs of a population that is difficult to count (there is no official census in Nigeria, and many of the wells are in places where there is an influx of displaced people), but which can be estimated at around 70,000 people. These wells don’t only allow people to draw clean water, but they also act to strengthen and sustain the community. Indeed, each project is a complete water system with a well and several water access points, which allow for domestic use, agricultural activities and livestock breeding.