Socio-economic problems, exposure to climate change and internal conflicts are some of the factors that have fuelled the country's crisis in recent years. North-eastern Nigeria in particular has long been at the centre of a humanitarian crisis caused by the violent Boko Haram movement and shrinking of the Lake Chad basin, the main water source for local communities. The crisis has triggered significant migratory flows and informal settlements have grown both in the north-east and in the Abuja Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to which many people are fleeing. This being the case, the Federal Government of Nigeria has asked energy companies in the country to contribute through sustainable initiatives in the affected areas, and that is why, in 2018, we signed a three-year Collaboration Agreement with FAO (the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization). The aim was to contribute to the humanitarian activities to help internally displaced people (IDPs) and host communities affected by the Lake Chad crisis, as well as to promote access to clean, safe water in the country by building wells powered by photovoltaic systems. We drilled 6 wells in 2020, in addition to those drilled in 2018 and 2019, amounting to a total of 22 wells for domestic use and field irrigation and reaching 67,000 beneficiaries.
The launch of water systems in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa
Bama is a town in the north-eastern state of Borno, one of the three states at the epicentre of the insurrection. It is located 60km from the capital, Maiduguri, and has been attacked several times by insurgents. Through our Nigerian subsidiary Nigerian Agip Exploration (NAE), we commissioned a water system to improve access to water in those areas of the north-east affected by the riots. We have started to implement similar water systems in Chibiok, Biu, Damboa and Gwoza, all areas affected by the insurrection. Other water infrastractures have been implemented in Abuja communities, such as Waru and Sheretti, which were affected by an influx of IDPs. The wells have a storage capacity of between 25,000 and 50,000 litres, as well as water purification facilities and up to 24 distribution taps.
The first solar-powered well in the Waru community
Waru is one of the many communities in Nigeria significantly affected by the crisis that, in keeping with Nigeria’s tradition of hospitality, has opened its doors to others. Its solar-powered water system has provided safe, clean water to this community of around 4,000 people, including internally displaced people fleeing the insurrection in the north-east. This is the first of ten wells provided in the first year of the collaboration with FAO as part of an initiative designed to promote access to water in selected communities across the country.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an action plan signed in September 2015 by 193 UN countries. It sets out 17 goals for socio-economic development in communities and countries. Through this national project, we are helping to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation (Goal 6) and end all forms of poverty (Goal 1) and hunger (Goal 2). Furthermore, we are committed to promoting efforts to combat climate change (Goal 13) and to strengthening and renewing the global partnership for sustainable development (Goal 17).
Technologies we use
All water systems are solar-powered and have back-up supply systems to ensure availability in a sustainable way. Some wells are equipped with a reverse osmosis system to treat and purify water.
Before the well was built, we could not grow anything during the dry season. We assumed that irrigation was only possible in riverine areas. Now our lives have changed 100%. This year we had an abundant harvest, we ate some and sold the rest.
Presentation of the Eni/FAO water access initiative in Nigeria in 2019.
Impact on the environment and communities
Since the insurrection began in 2009, the Boko Haram movement has caused unprecedented levels of displacement in the region and severe disruption to farming, livestock and fishing activities. Our activities in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have helped internally displaced people (IDPs) in camps, and those returning to liberated communities, to resume normal life. The plan from the outset was to ensure that displaced people and host communities had access to clean water for domestic and agricultural use. Furthermore, the collaboration with FAO was geared towards ensuring food security and proper nutrition. The relevant local authorities were involved in the implementation of the project, to provide training support and raise awareness among communities of the issue of water management and practices for long-term sustainability.
Access to water in Nigeria: gallery
Access to water remains a serious problem in the country, especially in rural areas. Improved access to clean, safe water, along with better hygiene practices, are vital to community health and a cornerstone of our involvement in Nigeria.
Our results so far
launched in 2020
FAO has had official representation in Nigeria since 1978, although its involvement in the country dates back to the 1950s. Working with the relevant ministries at national and sub-national levels, the organisation has provided strategic support for national development programmes and strategies aimed at reducing poverty, improving food and nutrition security and managing natural resources. With reference to Goal 17, the FAO-Eni collaboration is an example of the type of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) envisaged by the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as an essential tool in driving the achievement of the SDGs at local level. The partnership that exists between Eni and FAO is a development partnership, in which both parties rely on their specific skills to provide local people with a primary need. Under the terms of the collaboration agreement, FAO provides support in identifying activity areas for wells, technical expertise and know-how in the areas concerned, as well as training in water management and sustainability, while Eni is responsible for drilling the wells and supplying the photovoltaic systems.
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