The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Eni, through its Nigerian subsidiary Nigerian Agip Exploration (NAE), commissioned a water scheme in Bama, as part of a collaborative effort to improve access to water in the areas of the North East affected by the current insurgency.
Bama is a town in the North eastern Nigerian State of Borno, one of 3 States at the epicenter of the insurgency. It can be found about 60 kilometers from the capital city, Maiduguri, and has been attacked several times by insurgents since 2014. As part of efforts to re-build and stabilize the region, the federal government of Nigeria appealed to Oil and Gas companies operating in the country to support efforts to alleviate the plight of communities affected by the crisis, by launching sustainable intervention programmes designed to positively impact the area.
Heeding this call, Eni and its partner, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), in collaboration with FAO, launched the ‘Access to Water’ initiative in February 2018, to boost access to water for domestic consumption and small-scale agricultural activities. FAO and Eni believe the intervention will improve sanitation and help restore livelihoods by making water available for dry season irrigation.
The Bama water scheme, involving a solar powered borehole, is one of the 10 projects being completed under this Initiative. It follows on similar water schemes implemented in Chibiok, Biu, Damboa and Gwoza, all local government areas also affected by the insurgency in Borno State. Other water schemes have also been implemented in camps and communities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), such as Waru and Sheretti, impacted by the influx of internally displaced persons from the North East.
While commissioning the facility in Bama, the FAO Country Representative in Nigeria and to ECOWAS, Suffyan Koroma, stressed the importance of the activity. “The solar boreholes and FAO’s larger investment in irrigation and water management is a signal of our commitment to support the government of Nigeria achieve its development goals. In the northeast, the availability of safe drinking water and water for agriculture is central to growth and recovery.”
All the water schemes under the FAO-Eni initiative are solar-powered and are provided with back-up power systems to ensure availability and sustainability. Those dedicated to drinking are equipped with a reverse-osmosis plant to treat, as well as purify the water. The relevant local authorities are involved in implementation, to provide support in training and sensitize the communities on water management and practices for long-term sustainability.
In Bama, the water scheme is expected to reach 40,000 internally displaced people and the host community. During the commissioning, Alberto Piatti, Eni’s Executive Vice President for Responsible and Sustainable Enterprise, said: “Access to water is a prerequisite for life. With the water scheme we commissioned in Borno state, we strive to increase access to clean water, thus impacting overall living conditions in the communities and contributing to the stabilization of the area.”
The “Access to Water” initiative is implemented in the framework of the Collaboration Agreement between FAO and Eni in Nigeria, geared towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG1 (No Poverty); SDG2 (Zero Hunger); SDG6 (Clean water and Sanitation); SDG13 (Climate Action); and SDG17 (Public-Private Partnerships for the Goals).
The FAO has an official representation in Nigeria since 1978, though its activities in the country date back to the 1950s. The organization, working with relevant ministries at the national and sub-national levels, has provided strategic support to national development programmes and to strategies aimed at reducing poverty, improving food and nutrition security, and natural resources management.
Eni has been present in Nigeria since 1962 with both onshore and offshore activities. This project is part of Eni’s sustainability efforts in Nigeria, which include activities relating to agricultural development, access to energy, health, training, environmental protection, as well as specific initiatives for stakeholder engagement in local communities and promotion of transparency.