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New Standard for Drinking Water Quality in Nigeria to ensure the safety of drinking water and protect public health

Abuja, 9 May 2007 - The new certified Nigerian Standard for Drinking Water Quality was presented today by the Director General of the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Dr. John Akanya, to the Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo, in the presence of United Nations Children’s Fund Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Ayalew Abai. The Nigerian Standard for Drinking Water Quality was approved by the Council of SON on the 16th of April 2007.

The establishment of this drinking water quality standard will ensure the safety of drinking water supplies and the protection of public health. Poor quality of water is responsible for the spread of deadly diseases such a cholera, dysentery, typhoid and poliomyelitis. Every year in Nigeria, thousands of cholera cases are reported, causing many human fatalities. In addition, the data of the Federal Ministry of Health show that diarrhea is the most prevalent disease among the population after malaria. Diarrhea is also responsible for 16 % of under-five children deaths.

‘The danger that unsafe drinking water poses to health is enormous’, underlined the Hon. Minster of Health, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo. ‘Today’s event marks another landmark in our collective drive to provide safe and good quality potable water to our people. While every effort to ensure access to potable water needs to be sustained, it is equally important to ensure that the water meets the minimum international standard for safety and quality.’

A rapid assessment of drinking water quality, conducted in Nigeria in 2002-2004 and supported by UNICEF and WHO, noted the lack of an acceptable Drinking Water Quality Standard in Nigeria, which would guarantee the quality of water supplied to people.  In 2005, the National Council on Water Resources (NCWR) recognized the need to urgently establish such Standard.

Based on this recommendation, a technical committee of key stakeholders was created, chaired by the Federal Ministry of Health and co-chaired by the Federal Ministry of Water resources and Federal Ministry of Environment, with secretariat in the Standard Organization of Nigeria, to develop the new standard. With funding from DFID, UNICEF provided technical expertise and financial assistance to the committee.

‘We know that unsafe water is a major underlying cause of child mortality in the country and hope that this document will be an important step forward in addressing this situation’, said UNICEF Representative, Ayalew Abai. ‘For every child that dies from disease related to unsafe water, many more are left sick or on the brink of survival. This is why UNICEF is committed to help the Government achieve the MDG target of improving access to safe drinking water and thus protect children and families.’

The new Nigerian Standard for Drinking Water Quality abides by the World Health Organization guidelines. The document sets physical, chemical, and microbiological parameters and maximum allowable limits for disinfectants in drinking water. It also includes normative references or laws guiding drinking water quality, definition of terminologies, institutional roles and responsibilities, monitoring, data management and compliance criteria.

The enforcement of the standard will help improve the quality of drinking water in Nigeria supplied by water service providers and will contribute to reduce the number of persons affected by water-related diseases. It is expected that it will also speed up the process of upgrading non-protected water systems and improving the management of all drinking water systems in the country.

For further information please contact:

  • Geoffrey Njoku, UNICEF Communication Officer, UNICEF Nigeria, Tel: 0803 52 50 288, e-mail:
  • Ayo Osinlu, Chief Press Secretary to the Hon. Minister, FMOH, 08033585484



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