World Water Day brought good news to Nigeria. Italian company Eni, in collaboration with FAO, announced it had commissioned 11 solar-powered water schemes in the North-Eastern part of the country.

A water scheme built by Eni and Fao in Nigeria
A water scheme built by Eni and Fao in Nigeria

Eni, through its Nigerian subsidiaries Nigerian Agip Exploration (NAE) and Agip Energy & Natural Resources (AENR), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), commissioned water schemes – comprised of boreholes, solar power systems, treatment facilities and fetching points – to provide water for domestic consumption and micro- irrigation purposes.

The water schemes were developed as part of the “Access to Water” initiative, which was implemented by FAO and Eni in collaboration with Eni’s partner, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to improve access to clean and safe water in Nigeria.

The handover of the water schemes – said Alberto Piatti, Eni’s Head of Sustainable Development – is a cornerstone in the collaboration with FAO in the region that is contributing to improve the life of the communities. With the completion of the project, thousands of people will have access to clean water, which is a concrete step to enhance the overall living conditions of the inhabitants, providing them a safe source also for other uses, such as agriculture, to boost concrete social development”.

Women getting clean water at a newly built well in Nigeria
Women getting clean water at a newly built well in Nigeria

The collaboration project relies on the expertise and know-how of the organizations to facilitate access to water by communities affected by socio-economic issues, from exposure to climate change and internal conflicts that have fuelled the country’s crisis in recent years.

In particular, the partnership contributes to humanitarian support for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and for the host communities of the North East affected by the humanitarian emergency – caused by the violent Boko Haram movement and the narrowing of the Lake Chad basin, the main source of water for local communities – which has caused population displacement and a prolonged interruption of agricultural, livestock and fishing activities.

The water wells, powered with photovoltaic systems, were constructed between 2018 and 2020 in various communities located in local government areas, but the official commissioning and handover of the water schemes could not be held until now due to the volatile situation of the area.

Since 2018, Eni and FAO have implemented a total of 22 water well projects under the framework of this Access to Water initiative: 5 in Abuja Federal Capital Territory and 17 in North-East Nigeria, notably in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.

A map of the water schemes built by Eni and Fao in Nigeria
A map of the water schemes built by Eni and Fao in Nigeria

Overall, the initiative has contributed to improved access to clean, safe water; improved sanitation and better livelihoods for approximately  67.000 people, including internally displaced people and their host communities.

The solar- powered boreholes and FAO’s wider technical support in irrigation and water management – underlined by the FAO Representative in Nigeria and to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Fred Kafeerodemonstrates 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 livelihood recovery.”

Access to water in the areas of intervention in Nigeria is guaranteed by the skills deployed by FAO and Eni: according to the terms of the collaboration agreement FAO will provide support in identifying the areas of intervention for the wells as well as technical expertise and know-how in the targeted areas, whereas Eni will drill the boreholes and provide them with photovoltaic power systems.

eni fao nigeria access to water

The synergy between FAO and Eni is an example of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to be implemented at local level. PPP are an essential tool in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations in 2015 – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG1 – No Poverty; SDG2 – Zero Hunger; SDG6 – Clean water and Sanitation; SDG13 – Climate Action, and SDG17 – Partnerships for the Goals.

As part of the initiative, the relevant local authorities are involved to provide support in training and sensitizing the communities on water management and practices for long-term sustainability.