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Stakeholders highlight impact of climate change on Nigeria’s water resources

ByBabatope Babalobi


Stakeholders in Nigeria’s water sector  said that climate change will seriously affect water resources in Nigeria exemplified by changing water levels, temperatures and flow will in turn affect food supply, health, industry, transportation, and ecosystem integrity. They therefore called on Federal and State Ministries of Water Resources in Nigeria to  ensure that water resources issues are adequately addressed in climate change analyses and climate policy formulations. Likewise, climate change problems should be adequately dealt with in water resources analyses, management and policy formulation in the national and state levels.

Rising from a one day  ‘Dialogue on Water and Climate change’, in Lagos, last Wednesday, the stakeholders in Nigeria’s water resources management sector pointed out that Climate change adaptation and mitigation requires investments in water resources management and infrastructure as well as  global food and energy security cannot be achieved without considering the water component.

One of the speakers at the dialogue, Engineer R.A. Ayeni, Deputy Director, Rural Water Supply Department of the Lagos State Ministry of Rural Development in a paper on Water And Climate Change: Lagos State as a case study’ said unpredictable rainfall caused by climate change is already affecting rural water supply in Lagos through inadequate recharge of aquifers and surface water.

Another speaker, Mrs Funke Ibigbami of the Bread of Life Development Foundation, a non governmental organisation said ‘The consequences of climate change are a major challenge to the management of water resources and barriers to the transition from poverty to prosperity by Nigerians;’ adding that ‘the changing climate is likely to exacerbate water management problems in Nigeria through its impact on rising sea levels in Nigeria costal regions, variable rainfall and extreme events like floods and drought particularly in Northern Nigeria’

Quoting a recent report by the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Ibigbami said that‘water and its availability and quality, will be the main pressures on, and issues for, societies and the environment under climate change’. People will feel the impact of climate change most strongly through changes in the distribution of water around the world and its seasonal and annual variability. • Climate change will alter patterns of water availability by intensifying the water cycle. Droughts and floods will become more severe in many areas. There will be more rain at high latitudes, less rain in   the dry subtropics, and uncertain but probably substantial changes in tropical areas’


Mrs Ibigbami  in her paper titled:  ‘Imperatives of mainstreaming water issues into Climate Change Discussions’ said ‘by 2020, between 75 million and 250 million more people in sub-Saharan Africa could have their livelihoods and human development prospects compromised by a combination of drought, rising temperatures and increased water stress. It is estimated that by 2025, almost two thirds of the world’s population are likely to experience some kind of water stress, and for one billion of them the shortage will be severe and socially disruptive’


Speaking on ‘Likely Impacts Of Climate Variability And Change On Water Resources And Their Availability In Nigeria, Professor Lekan Oyebande said: ‘Drought arising from climate change is likely to have adverse consequences for the hydrological cycle and water resources in Nigeria and a decrease of water table flows in the alluvial aquifers resulting in a decrease of base flows; a decrease of the non-dissolved solid transportation capacity due to the severe low flows; and a reduction of the capacity of rivers in sediment transport while air, mechanical and hydraulic erosion has been accentuated’.


Oyebande, who is the Chairman, Technical Committee of West African Water Partnership also said that ‘there is an increased river siltation in Nigeria’s and  the mmonthly rainfall data show that the dry period is being characterised by a decrease in the number of rainy events, while the mean storm rainfall varies little’. According to him, other likely effects of climate change in Nigeria are:

  • Rainfall variability in Nigeria is likely to have a drastic effect on river discharges. A deficit of 20 to 30% in rainfall results in a water shortage or deficit of 40 to 60%.
  • Stream flow modification in Nigeria has been resulting in water quality changes due to reduced dilution capacity ;reduced extent and health of wetlands areas; reduced groundwater recharge and reduced aquifer capacity; and  water scarcity as a result of diminishing precipitation, reduction in river flows, falling water tables, and an increase in the amount of evapotranspiration.
  • Climate Change is  also expected to have the following impacts on Nigeria’s water sector- increases in sea surface temperature and mean global sea level, changes in salinity, wave conditions, and ocean circulation; disruption of marine ecosystems dynamics, with significant impacts on fish-dependent human societies; and increased levels of flooding, accelerated erosion, loss of wetlands and mangroves, and seawater intrusion into freshwater sources
  • In the coastal regions of Nigeria, the receding shoreline coupled with the 30 to 60 km tidal excursion length around the Niger Delta suggests increasing salinization of upland ground water.
  • In the forest zone of southern Nigeria, projections indicate an increase in rainfall during the rainy season months and a decrease during the dry season months, esp. December-February as well as probability of the dry season becoming drier while the rainy season becomes wetter.


At the end of the deliberation, a communiqué was issued which  called on National and State Government in Nigeria should gear up efforts to reduce unsustainable water management and improve the efficiency of agricultural water use, that is, water productivity; while Innovative and strategic investment, research and development together with international cooperation should be promoted to improve agricultural water management by means of participatory irrigation management, water harvesting, water-saving/drought-resistant crop varieties, water storage, and dissemination of agricultural best practices.


Other measures recommended by the participants are:

  • Water conservation should be promoted throughout Nigeria with  people’s participation
  • Groundwater recharge/ monitoring mechanisms should be set up by Water Service Providers and Policy formulators in the Water sector.
  • Water efficiency plans should be developed and promoted by all stakeholders
  • Rainwater harvesting should be promoted particularly in rural communities.
  • Inter basin water transfer and hydraulics structure provision should be encouraged.
  • Aquifer load should be reduced using surface water with simple purification systems like slow sand filtration
  • State water utilities in Nigeria should  organise more public education on Water demand management
  • Industries in the Nigeria are encouraged to change industrial process changes to reduce water intensity.


The dialogue was attended by over 50 representatives of civil society groups, community groups, the academia, the media, and top government officials.