News note: Safe water is a right, not a privilege – for every child

69 million Nigerians do not have access to safe water

22 March 2018
A mother helps her son to use a Tippy Tap set up in their home.

Abuja, 22 March 2018 – Access to safe drinking water remains a challenge to majority of Nigerians, especially those living in the rural areas. The recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), conducted by the Government of Nigeria in 2016/17, indicates that about 40 per cent of households and about 69 million people, do not have access to clean water sources. In the rural areas, 19 million people walk long distances to collect unsafe water from lakes, streams and rivers.

Children without access to safe water are more likely to die in infancy and throughout childhood from waterborne diseases. Diarrhea remains the leading cause of death among children under five years of age in Nigeria. Waterborne diseases also contribute to stunting. A stunted child is shorter than she or he could have been and will never be able to reach her or his full cognitive potential. Lack of safe water and sanitation also makes children vulnerable to other threats beyond health. Many children in rural areas spend hours daily collecting water, missing out on the opportunity to go to school.

“Improving water and sanitation services, as well as basic hygiene practices in Nigeria, calls for a strong commitment from all partners – the government, the civil society, the private sector and communities”, said Zaid Jurji, Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, UNICEF Nigeria on International World Water Day. “For Nigeria to achieve the global goal of providing access to safe water for every citizen by 2030, it needs to make water, together with sanitation and hygiene, a national priority. This goal is closely linked with three key results for the country – good health, environment sustainability and economic prosperity.”

UNICEF, in collaboration with the Federal, State and Local Governments, has provided safe water during the past five years to over 8 million Nigerians living in rural areas.

Media contacts

Eva Hinds
Communication Specialist
UNICEF Nigeria
Tel: +234 906 2222 216

Note to editors

About International World Water Day

International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Nigeria, visit

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook