Challenges in The Nigerian Water Sector – If the Problem is not Lack of Comprehensive Regimes, then what is it?

Challenges in The Nigerian Water Sector – If the Problem is not Lack of Comprehensive Regimes, then what is it?

Photo Credit: Water Aid

Water is life and sufficient water supply is central to life and civilization. Water is part of the five basic human needs and plays a key role in the other four. Nigeria is abundantly blessed with water resources. However, as at 2015, only 69% of Nigerians have access to improved water supply with 57% of them being of rural population. During the oil boom days of the 1970s and early 1980s, the country invested hugely in water resources development, primarily in the construction of multipurpose dams which were meant to control flood, provision of water for domestic and industrial uses, the environment, hydro-power generation, control of riparian rights releases and for fishing, inland waterways, livestock and irrigated agriculture amongst others.

The responsibility of water supply in Nigeria is shared between three tiers of government – federal, state and local. While the federal government is in charge of water resources management and state governments have the primary responsibility for urban water supply through state water agencies; local governments together with communities are responsible for rural water supply. To improve manpower supply for the water resources sector, the National Water Resources Institute, Kaduna was established in 1979, running certificate, remedial and National Diploma and Higher National Diploma and professional post graduate courses in water resources. Preceding this was the establishment of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources (FMoWR) in 1976 with the mandate of developing and implementing programs, policies and projects that will lubricate sustainable access to safe and adequate water to meet the cultural, economic development, environmental and social needs of all Nigerians. The FMoWR has 12 River Basin Development Authorities under the Ministry, responsible for developing and planning irrigation work, water resources, and the collection of hydrological, hydro-geological data.

The National Water Supply and Sanitation Policy was approved in 2000, encouraging private-sector participation and provides for institutional and policy reforms at the state level. However, little has happened in both respects. As at 2007, only four of the 36 states and the FCT (Cross River, Kaduna, Lagos and Ogun States) have introduced public-private partnerships in the form of service contracts. While the federal government has a decentralization policy in this regard, little decentralization has happened. In addition, the policy also lays emphasis on rural water and sanitation through community participation. It targeted to increase water coverage from 43% to 80% by 2010 and 100% by 2015. This was not met. In addition, the capacity of local governments to plan and carry out investments, or to operate and maintain systems with respect to rural water management has remained low despite efforts at capacity development. As a result, the FMoWR and the river basin development authorities have been directly carrying off water facilities provision such as boreholes in rural communities.

In 2003, a Presidential Water Initiative: Water for People, Water for Life, was launched by then President Olusegun Obasanjo. The initiative had ambitious targets to increase water access (including a 100 percent target in state capitals), 75% access in other urban areas, and 66% access in rural areas. However, little has been done to implement the initiative and targets have not been met. The National Water and Sanitation Policy was also launched in 2004 with emphasis on water management and conservation. Nigeria was also not able to reach the Millennium Development Goal for water and sanitation. In June 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari approved a Water Resources Roadmap (2016 – 2030) with the goal of reaching 100% water supply to Nigerian citizens by 2030. The roadmap encompasses several priorities including: the establishment of a policy and regulatory framework for the sector; development and implementation of a National Water Supply and Sanitation Programme to attain the Sustainable Development Goals 6; identifying alternative sources for funding the delivery of water supply and sanitation through improved collaboration with development partners, states and local government authorities, communities and the private sector [Partnership for Expanded Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (PEWASH)] etc. It’s hoped that this does not go down history as one of the country’s numerous policies in the sector that was not thoroughly implemented.

There have been enormous contributions of several external partners with respect to water supply in Nigeria, rural water provision especially, and the Nigerian government welcomes such contributions. These partners include the African Development Bank (ADB), the EU, JICA, UNICEF, USAID, WaterAid, Action Against Hunger and the World Bank. The ADB and the World Bank provide loans to the federal government; the EU, JICA and USAID provide grants to the government; the UNICEF and WaterAid receive donations from the public and grants from governments to implement their projects in cooperation with, but not through the government. Even many domestic NGOs all have programs on the provision of rural water supply to counter the water crisis in many of such communities.This is through direct project implementation and advocacy. This is where Connected Development comes in, using its Follow The Money program to track governmental expenditure on rural water provision in rural communities to facilitate service delivery and provision of clean water. The program also advocates for governmental intervention to address the aquatic needs of most of these communities.

At this time, what is key is the provision of financial resources from all concerned parties to finance the Water Supply Section of the PEWASH Phase I (2016 – 2020) of the FMoWR’s which is at the estimate of NGN 108 billion. There are also key challenges with respect to the management of water facilities around the country. In many rural communities, water boreholes are abandoned and cannot be maintained over the lack of a preceding regime for the funding and maintenance of such water facilities. This has continued for sometime and has to be checked. Thus, it is imperative that the government encourages user participation in the management of water facilities especially at the rural level with realistic water tariff structures. In addition, there is a need for proper coordination between the different levels of government and the public. Ultimately, a recurring challenge is the unavailability of adequate and reliable data upon which planning, analysis, and water management can be based. Data on characteristic patterns in hydrological and meteorological changes over time need to be monitored with utmost sense of duty. This is exceedingly important for efficient planning and service delivery.  

Chambers Umezulike is a Programme Manager at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.

Enabling Greater Transparency, Accountability and Participation in Nigeria

Enabling Greater Transparency, Accountability and Participation in Nigeria

[The DG of Budget Office, Ben Akabueze making a  presentation during the Budget Transparency and Accountability Workshop]

 

It is widely accepted that transparency in government leads to the generation of government accountability since it allows citizens of a democracy to reduce government corruption, bribery and other malfeasance, and control their government. It is also widely accepted that an open, transparent government allows for the dissemination of information and proceedings of government, which in turn forces government to be accountable, helps to guarantee societal progress and effective public oversight, while ensuring participation.

There have been several transparency, accountability and participation movements all over the world. Such movements in developing countries have more justifications for clamouring for such as a result of poor governance, systemic wrecking of public funds, public records inaccessibility and impecunious citizen participation in governance. As a result, citizens of such countries have found it increasingly difficult to hold their governments to account.

This is the case of Nigeria, where several non-profits and movements have been pushing for greater governmental accountability and transparency. And for the first time since the history of the country, the present administration made a striking commitment by signing unto the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The OGP is a multilateral and multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from national governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, harness new technologies to strengthen governance and fight corruption. Nigeria getting on-board the partnership through President Buhari’s commitment to such resulted in a synthesis of government and civil society efforts to realize open government in the country.

Currently, Nigeria just started implementing the National Action Plan (NAP), a key process of the OGP. The plan has 4 commitments that both the government and civil society have made and are implementing across ensuring fiscal transparency, fighting corruption, improving citizenry access to information and citizen engagement.

In line with these developments, the Budget Office of the Federation (BoF) and the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative organized a workshop on budget transparency and accountability on 9 May 2017 at Transcorp Hilton Hotels, Abuja. In attendance were several international and domestic stakeholders from the government, civil society and private sector. The workshop was organized to allow the Nigerian government examine how it can bolster transparency and participation outcomes in the country with focus on budget transparency – how budget information can be made more accessible, how to move forward in implementing reforms that improves Nigeria’s Open Budget Index Score (OBIS).

The workshop majorly kicked off through a presentation by the Director-General of BoF on Transparency, Accountability and Participation: Reforms and Why It Matters. He used his presentation to highlight progresses made on open government in the country, detailing the OGP and its NAP Commitments. He also mentioned that an area that requires commitments and attention of all relevant stakeholders is Nigeria’s OBIS which as at 2015 was at number 24 on the ranking under insufficient. He also mentioned that in a bid to counter such embarrassing trend, the BoF is on the verge of commissioning the Citizen’s Budget Portal where citizens would have timely information of budget processes including contracting and implementation. In addition, the portal will have further contents such as the BoF Help Desk and Hot Lines to take questions from the general public on budget issues and implementation.

This was followed by a presentation by Atiku Samuel of BudgIT on the Status of Budget Transparency in Nigeria. He took his time to explain the international standards of budget transparency and how the OBIS is measured. After this was a session on How to Make Budget Data More Accessible by Atzimba Baltazar of COMETA. She emphasised the need for a Citizen’s budget which should be a few paged document on governmental revenues, debts and expenditure in a fiscal year using infographics and cartoons to simplify understanding for the citizenry. She lifted lessons Nigeria could learn from countries such as Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa where citizen’s budgets are already been issued out.

The last session was a group discussion on 3 key questions: 1). Do you have enough information on the budget? 2). Who do you go to access the information and 3). How do you prefer to access this information? The resolutions after the group discussions on the questions, respectively, are:

1). Yes, while we have information on the budget including the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, Budget Proposal, Appropriation Act, Budget Implementation Reports etc. the problem is that accessibility to these documents atimes are not timely. Most of them are not in open source formats. Most of the budget line items are not detailed enough, and ultimately, a lay man would not be able to understand the technicalities on most of these documents. 2). It was generally agreed that this should be from the Budget Office, Ministry of Finance and few other primarily concerned MDAs. 3). In open source format – the citizen’s budget and the citizen’s budget portal will go a long way in assisting in this regard.

While one must applaud the BoF and the present administration on efforts to use open government as a tool in fighting corruption, increasing participation and ensuring effective public oversight, there should be sufficient governmental political will in implementing the NAP, other consequent commitments and responding to Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests. For CODE (Follow The Money), the citizen’s budget portal will be largely utilitarian in accessing key budget information for rural communities which we fail to access on time even through piles of FOI requests. Such will enable us take such details down to rural communities and in building their capacity for effective public oversight, ensuring service delivery and in holding their governments accountable.

 

Chambers Umezulike is a Programme Manager at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.

Broadening Impacts through Strategic Accountability Approaches

Broadening Impacts through Strategic Accountability Approaches

[During one of our townhall meetings at Uratta Umuoha Community, Abia State – a key social accountability strategy through which we have enabled communities organize stakeholder engagements to facilitate the implementation of projects intended for them]

On the 11th of April 2017, the boardroom of MacArthur Foundation Nigeria was filled with several civil society actors on accountability, transparency and civic engagement. In attendance were over 30 representatives from domestic non-profits who are MacArthur grantees. They were there for a conversation with two accountability scholars, John Gaventa, and Walter Flores. An event in which staffers of MacArthur Foundation Headquarters joined virtually from the United States, the aim was to share ideas and have grantees move from tactical accountability approaches to more strategic approaches. As one of the representatives of Connected Development [CODE], I went in with several expectations which were met.

The conversation started with a presentation, Dancing the TAP Dance: Linking Transparency, Accountability and Participation, by Prof John Ganveta who teaches at the Institute of Development Studies, United Kingdom. He started with sharing key governance issues that led to the rise of accountability and transparency movement globally. Most of them encompass accountability deficit, democratic deficit and impecunious active citizen participation in governance. He then went on explaining how several tools such as ensuring service delivery, improving budgetary processes, ensuring open government, aid transparency and NGO accountability can be utilitarian in addressing these challenges. Addressing these challenges would consequently lead to better services through monitoring, improved democracy, reduced public service corruption, empowerment, human rights, greater access to information and challenging inequality.

Another presentation, Citizen-led Accountability: Power, Politics and Strategies, was by Dr Walter Flores of Center for the Study of Equity and Governance in Health Systems (CEGSS) who took time to share his organization’s works on accountability and challenging inequalities in Guatemala. He emphasised that the roles of transparency and accountability in curbing inequalities include turning citizens from passive to active users of services who can demand accountability from the government. According to him, when they started, they first of all started collecting data on how a particular faction of the society was being marginalized in getting services in drug stores and hospitals. The data was collected through sms, audio/visual evidence and they embarked on advocacy and engaged the government with such evidence for appropriate response. They also created channels of engagement for such citizens to discuss problems and implement solutions.

At a time, politics came into play and they were challenged by governmental authorities for not having the legitimacy to advocate for the communities. They then were forced to decentralize their operations to let citizens and communities lead it through their building capacities. Communities were then organized for monitoring. In a presentation in which he shared most of their successes, he finalized by stating that social accountability is crucial for accountability to work. And that in such work, it’s better to start with community organizing and rights literacy, while collective and participatory interventions, strategies and results are imperative.

After the phenomenal presentations were questions, comments and commitments from organizations present. In line with Dr Flores presentation, I made a remark on the effectiveness of his social accountability strategy which we use at CODE. At CODE, in tracking governmental expenditure in rural communities for service delivery, we start with rights literacy in the concerned communities and co-organize town hall meetings with their community leaders for conversation around the particular projects with implementing governmental agencies and contractors. The town hall meetings have helped to embed community ownership in our works and within the chain of our participatory strategies, communities are empowered to ensure these projects are implemented long after we have pulled out. Also in the same line, for sustainability, decentralization of our strategies and community ownership, we activated ifollowthemoney.org to mobilize young people in these communities to ensure governmental accountability themselves.

The conversation was quintessential and more of it are crucial with respect to capacity building of the civil society and sharing of ideas.

 

Chambers Umezulike is a Programme Manager at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.

Role of the Civil Society in the OGP Implementation and UNCAC Review Process

Role of the Civil Society in the OGP Implementation and UNCAC Review Process

On 29 and 30 March 2017, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice through its Civil Society Advocacy to Support Anti-Corruption in Nigeria organised a 2-day workshop to build the capacity of selected CSOs and journalists on the concept of Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the implementation United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in Nigeria including the second UNCAC review process. The workshop was also for enhancing the capacity of the invited organizations in their policy advocacy and engagement with relevant agencies of government around the issues.

In attendance were around 30 persons from mainly civil society organisations, including focal persons for the UNCAC review and OGP from EFCC, TUGAR and Ministry of Justice who were invited to the opening ceremony.

Highlights of the workshop include, first, the identification and use of red flags to monitor procurement processes session led by the personnel of Bureau of Public Procurement. He used the session to bring to the fore, key processes of procurement from the planning stage to evaluation, explaining how contracts are awarded, how contractors bid and how one can file a petition if not comfy with the bidding outcome. He also displayed to the participants, key pages of the open contracting website portal (being developed) through which all information on procurement and contracting from all federal agencies will be accessed online.

Secondly, there was a session on UNCAC Review Process and Mechanism with focus on chapters 2 and 5 of the convention. Chapter 2 was on Preventable Measures on Corruption while 5 was on Assets Recovery. The role of CSOs in the review process was also highlighted and discussed.

Thirdly and ultimately was a session on the OGP, led by Mr Stanley Acholonu of BudgIT. He used the session to highlight the 4 themes on Nigeria’s National Action Plan (NAP), a plan to be implemented in 2 years. The themes are Fiscal Transparency, Anti-Corruption, Citizen Engagement and Access to Information. There are 14 commitments under these themes with outcomes, indicators, activities, timeline, responsible institutions etc. He also mentioned of the review regime of the NAP and the importance of CSOs to be in either of the working groups. The latter are 7, namely, Fiscal Transparency, Anti-Corruption, Citizen Engagement and Access to Information, Innovation and Technology, Communications and Monitoring and Evaluation. These working groups are made up of governmental personnel and CSOs that meet regularly to access implementation. The roles of CSOs in the implementation include putting pressure and reminding the government of the commitments, carrying off independent review process and providing assistance to the government in the implementation of the NAP.

The workshop was a phenomenal one. I also met interesting participants and elemental stakeholders from several organizations whose group contributions were so helpful, and offside discussions during tea and lunch breaks, I learnt so much from. The OGP process most especially is the hope of Nigeria to get governance right. I hope we realize most of the commitments within the 2 year window.

 

Chambers Umezulike is a Programme Manager at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.

THE PLACE OF MONITORING AND EVALUATION SYSTEM IN DEVELOPMENT GOVERNANCE

THE PLACE OF MONITORING AND EVALUATION SYSTEM IN DEVELOPMENT GOVERNANCE

Last week was one of my best and a good one for democracy as I had the opportunity of participating in a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) training organized by Cloneshouse Nigeria. Pre this training, I had a contracted knowledge of the M&E process (also referred in this piece as The Process) albeit I was quite aware that its skills are amongst the most requested of, in the non-profit development space. The only thing I could remember on M&E was one of my International Economics professor’s comments that inadequate M&E frameworks are one of the problems facing governance in Africa. As someone passionate about knowledge, outstandingly so when it concerns development, my interest and expectations from the training were hyper-raised.

What I did immediately was to seek permission from my boss to attend the training and scan through most of my Masters’ education briefs in International Economic Policy Analysis to probably get a deeper insight into what The Process was all about. I also went online, trying to have a briefing about the theme. Summary of what I picked was that The Process is a key component of policy processes and comes timely in improving and assessing performance of programs, projects, institutions and policies.

The first day of the 8-day training proved to me that I was in the right place. It was held at the Boardroom, on Ganges Street, Maitama, Abuja, and in participation were 9 colleagues in the development space from the British Council’s Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme and PACT Nigeria. The training started by introducing The Process and accentuating its very importance in the implementation of projects. ‘The essence of M&E is to achieve results in programs implementation and for measuring the extent and impacts of  open government, open governance etc. in project implementation,’ said Oludotun Babayemi, one of the facilitators. So, The Process is for enhancing topical and future management of outputs, outcomes and impact of a program. The monitoring component of The Process helps in tracking the program activities so as to adjust deficiencies, while the evaluation component helps to assess the program’s performance after 2 – 5 years of its implementation.

From these were further lectures on the 12 components of an M&E system. According to Oludotun, ‘this is the engine of The process.’ The components encompasses organizational structure for M&E system, human capacity building of M&E staffers, carrying all relevant stakeholder partnerships necessary, communicating processes and performance of the program to relevant stakeholders, M&E plan, costed work plan, routine monitoring to improve performance, periodic surveys, data auditing, database system, evaluation and research, and using information to improve results.

What caught my attention was the configuration of an M&E plan which has the logical framework, data source matrix, budget, information product matrix, information dissemination matrix, managing partnerships between stakeholders and when the M&E system and plan will be reviewed. The logical framework, which remains one of the most important component of the M&E plan and process interested me the most, as it contains the result chain [inputs, activities, outputs (routine monitoring), outcomes and impact (evaluation)]. All of the result chain elements have indicators for measuring them. These indicators have baseline (situation before program implementation accessed during baseline assessment) and targets (quantifiable goals of the different components of the result chain – what the program intends to achieve at each stage).

The evaluation component of The Process was unpacked highlighting the core focus of such, such as efficiency, effectiveness, relevance, sustainability and impact. The evaluation report is prepared through the segmentation and population of the themes and so wise the preparation of data collection tools. According to one of the facilitators, ‘Before you design an evaluation plan, you must study the program framework very intensively to understand roles and partnerships. In addition, collecting data for evaluation report should be from the implementing agency and beneficiaries, and within the themes of Evaluation.’

Data collection for periodic monitoring, surveys and evaluation are exceedingly vital in The Process as it presents the sources of data, publication dates, who does what, budget for the data collection or access and methodology of data collection etc. In addition were exposures to monitoring information system, logical framework, checklist for evaluation planning etc. From this were lectures on the data collection and analysis component of evaluation in M&E – how programs are evaluated. Google forms were used to simplify the preparation of data collection tools, electronic data collection, and it automatically gathers data and input in a database (Google Spreadsheet). The Spreadsheet was so handy for data analysis. We were also exposed to the Kobo tool box for mobile data collection. Microsoft Excel was also used for data analysis. Altogether, as someone that has been battling with using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences for elementary data analysis, the applications/software helped to demystify data analysis.

At the end of the training, I presented an M&E plan for a pseudo program. The plan was for an international nonprofit 2 year program which intends to improve literacy rate in a certain Shikira community from 25% in 2017 to 35% in 2019 through improving primary school enrollment in the community and improving teachers knowledge and teaching skills. The community, with a population of 1,000 with 60% being under 14 children has one of the poorest literacy rates in a State with poor primary school enrollment rate, inadequate number of classrooms and teaching equipment, and lack of skilled teachers. Please find the M&E plan/assignment here. The plan was supposed to make sure the results and objectives of the program were achieved.

This was a phenomenal training and wonderful exposure to M&E for me. Having stated that I started the training with no single knowledge of The Process, I am still surprised about how fast I learnt and how meaningful and interesting the training was. Perhaps, the expansive knowledge of the facilitators, their quality teaching skills and the various M&E System templates used and shared guaranteed this. This was so beautiful to me and I look forward to having the knowledge gained become relevant as I move forward career wise and academically. As someone passionate about economic development and interested in the development sector, I was really impressed. This was beautiful. This was SUPER. M&E really interests me and remains one of the best initiatives or processes in the development sector.

I think M&E training is necessary for everyone in the development space, both in public and nonprofit organizations. Organizations also have to send their staffers for such training. The dynamics of the training are expansive and cuts across the normative operations of organizations. For human capacity building, monitoring and evaluating performance and achieving results in programs and projects, as well as for enhanced organizational productivity, such training is exceedingly important.
Chambers Umezulike is a Programme Manager at Connected Development and a Development Expert. He spends most of his time writing and choreographing researches on good and economic governance. He tweets via @Prof_Umezulike.