Pathways out of urban water poverty

The collaborative research between the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and Development Planning Unit (DPU) at University College London started with a historical study of trends in water and sanitation as well as policy interventions since 1960 in Nigeria and their impacts on low-income communities in urban areas.

In June the research team met in Lagos to conduct a multi-stakeholder focus group discussion. Fifteen participants from government institutions, the private sector, civil society groups, academia and the media debated the challenges of the sector in Nigeria, and more specifically Lagos, and considered possible solutions to urban water poverty from their perspective. 

The UNILAG team is about to start fieldwork in two selected low-income communities in Lagos State, namely Iwaya Community and Bogije Village. Iwaya is an informal settlement in the urban core of Lagos where its residents largely purchase water through a variety of means. In contrast, Bogije Village is a much more traditional, and more peri-urban, settlement with a local chief where water as a gift still features strongly.

The fieldwork will investigate the range of practices through which poor women and men access water and sanitation services before exploring in more detail how different households and individuals in these two communities navigate through urban water poverty.

The project team recently tested the methodology during a pilot in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, comprising of a combination of infrastructure mapping, focus group discussions and oral histories. The data collected has already provided initial insights into how potential beneficiaries of water supply and sanitation interventions need to be targeted more effectively to support sustainable pathways out of urban water poverty.