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Private Sector Participation in Water Supply

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.


S. I. Efe

Department of Geography and Regional Planning

Delta State University, Abraka. Delta State, Nigeria


This study assessed the level of private participation in water supply in Abraka and the likely problem militating against their effective operation. This study involved personal field observation and questionnaire survey to all the private owners of water projects in Abraka. This gives a total of 188 questionnaires administered. The data collected were presented in tables and statistical diagram. Percentages were also us ed for the data analysis. The result revealed a high level of private participation in water supply in Abraka. This is evident from 188 out of 202 functioning water projects in Abraka, thus. it indicate that over 93% (percentage) of water projects in Abraka are owned by private individuals. The operators are however faced with the problem of epileptic power supply, hike in pump process of fuel (diesel and petrol, theft and maintenance cost, it is therefore recommended that Abraka should be linked to the national grid and more feeder transformers should be supplied to Abraka communities 4.y Delta State government. Government should also resuscitate the existing public water system in Abraka to minimise the money spent on water by Abraka inhabitants.

Keywords: Private Sector, Participation, Water Supply, Abraka


The supply of water to the inhabitants of urban areas has been the responsibilities of Local, State and Federal government. As such, there has been pressure in government resources and the government can no longer foot the servicing and maintenance of many socio infrastructures in the countries (Adesuyi, 1996). For instance in Nigeria many hydraulic facilities have been incapacitated and break down completely because of pressure from the increasing population of cities without corresponding expansion or maintenance in these water projects. And some even breaks down soon after commissioning (Efe, 2003). In Abraka its population has increased from 5,006 in 1985 to 57,444 in 1998, and it’s projected to increase to over 66,738 by 2005 and there is no expansion in the existing water facilities. Presently little could one identifS’ any government owned water project that provide water effectively and regularly to the inhabitants of Abraka, except dilapidated overhead tanks. Thus there has been acute shortage of water supply to Abraka communities. As such, the inhabitant now trek long distance at an average of 1-3km to river Ethiope and Ovwuvwe to get drinking and other domestic water, there they bath and do most of their washing (Plates, Clothes ete). Because of this problem there are complains by the inhabitants to government and private individuals, but there was no change of operational attitude by government. However, there has been large increased in Private Sector Participation (PSP) in water supply in recent times in Abraka. This view has been noted Oyebande (1981), Adesuyi (1996) and John (2002). So the private individual seize this opportunity to drill boreholes in their compound for personal use and commercial uses as well. Though the price of water is on the high side for example 20 litres can cost as high as N5.00 to N8.0O in most of the communities. Recently the government of Delta State came out with a policy that every borehole owners should come to the state capital to register with Nb, 000.00 for commercial bores and N3,500.00 for private and pay an annual subscription rate of N2,500.00 and NI,500.00 for commercially and privately owned bore holes in the state. But the owners of these private boreholes are hesitant to register and pay the said amount saying that water is a free gift of nature, and the government who suppose to provide water has failed, and even electricity to power their submersible pump government is not providing, why then is the demand for registration. Based on the foregoing, this study is aimed at assessing the level of PSP in water supply, the willingness of the private sectors to register and pay the annual subscription and to identify the limiting factors militating against effective PSP in water supply in Abraka.


Abraka is located between latitude 5°45’ and 5°50’ North of the equator and longitude 6° and 6° 15’ East. It covers an area of 168.43 sqkm, and a height of 45m above sea level. It is drain by two rivers, River Ethiope to the West and River Ovwuwve to the south eastern extent at the landmass. It has a gentle slope to the two rivers. The area is made of loamy and sandy soil (Efe and Aruegodore, 2003). Abraka fell within the tropical environment that enjoys the tropical rainforest climate (AF) of Koppen in 1919 and the wet equatorial of Strahier in 1969.Generally speaking, Abraka and its environs had an annual mean temperature of 3 0.6°C, and mean monthly temperature that span from 30°C in September to 31.1°C in June and July. The area experiencing heavy amount of rainfall that spans for 12 months period. Annual rainfall generally ranges from 2,703mm in 1977 to 3,647mm in 1989. However, the annual mean rainfall is 3,098mm. This indicates that Abraka experiences heavy and torrential rainfall throughout this period. The mean monthly distribution of rainfall in Abraka span 25.8mm in the month of December to 638.9mm in September. This indicates that December recorded the lowest rain amount while September recorded the month with the highest rainfall amount; as such there is no distinct dry season. In recent time Abraka has witnessed a rapid population increased, from a population of 55 510 during the 19991 Census, to estimated population value of 60 000 in 2004.This is as a result of the increase in the population of Delta State University students. This increase has also led to rapid urban development and without commensurate growth in infrastructural facilities of the areas.


The research designed employed in this study involves a field survey of personal observation and questionnaire administration to all the operators of bores in Abraka. Abraka was stratified into five zones based on the 5 political delineation (wards) already in existed. The researcher and 20 of his field assistants (hydrology students) visited each of the zones at five different occasions between March — May 2005 (one zone each ‘thy) to count the total number of hydraulic project existing in them and to administered questionnaire to each of them. The researcher waited for them to fill them and collect the questionnaire at the spot from them. The questionnaire covers the following; when the bores are sunk, the owner’s cost (prices) of water supply and their willingness to register with government and pay the annual water rate fees and likely problem encountered during operation. This took us to Umeghe, Uhuoka, Ekrejeta, Abraka urban, Ajalomi, Urhuovie, Erho, Oria waterside, Ovwodo, Ekreseme, Urhuagbesa, Otorho and Ugono. A total of 188 questionnaires were administered to the 188 private operators of boreholes in Abraka. The data collected re summarised in table 1 —4 and expressed in percentages.


The results from the field observations are presented in table 1,2,3, and 4 and discussed below:

Table 1: Number of water projects in each community and their owners

S/N Zone 1 Private Community Government NGO Total
1 Abraka urban 63 3 2 68
2 Ekrejeta 26 26
Zone 2
3 Urhuoka 34 34
4 Otorho 1 2 3
5 Ugono 1 3 2
Zone 3
6 Ajalomi 2 1 3
7 Erho 8 1 9
8 Urhuovie 10 1 2 13
Zone 4
9 Umeghe I, II 10 10
10 Urhuagbesa 1 1 2
11 Ovwodo 12 13
Zone 5
12 Ekreseme 3 3
13 Oria waterside 16 16
Total 188 1 8 5 202

Source: Author’s fieldwork, 2005.

Table I showed that a total of 202 hydraulic projects (bores) were located in all the communities in Abraka and its environs, Abraka urban (town), which housed the Delta State University recorded the highest concentration of bores, with a value of 68, out of which 63 hydraulic projects were owned by private individuals, 2 owned by non-governmental organisation and 3 owned by governmental They are sited at Delta State University to serve the need of staff and students on campus. This signifies 93%, 4% and 3% respectively lhr private, government and nongovernmental organisation. The 3 governments owned bores were sited at Delta State University, Abraka. Urhuoka and Ekrejeta follow this with 26 with 34 bores owned solely by private individuals respectively. Others are Oria waterside, Urhuovie, Ovwodo and Umeghe with 16, 13 and 109 bores respectively. At Oria waterside, Ovwodo and Uineghe all the boreholes are owned by private individuals, while at Urhuovie, out of the 13 water project, 10 are owned by private, 1 by community effort and 2 by government. These showed that private individuals own 77% of the water projects at Urhuovie. While the community and government own 8% and 15% of the bores respectively. The rest communities on table 1 showed less than 8 bore with the exception of Erho with 9 bores (8 private and 1 government owned). Generally, out of the 202 bores that is presently located in Abraka and its environs, 188 are owned by private individuals, 8 by government. 5 by non — governmental organisation and I by community effort (see fig 1).Fig.1: Operators of Bores in Abraka

Source: Author’s fieldwork, 2005

This showed that there is a high level of PSP in provision of water to the inhabitants of Abraka. Thus water supply in Abraka is mostly under the auspices of the PSP. The reason for increased PSP in water supply according to the operators of the bores is that; government has failed in its entirety in providing this basic necessity of life to the ever increasing population of Abraka, and also to make life better for their own people in Abraka and the student who resides off campus, lastly because of the fact that all the water projects owned by urban and rural water board in Abraka have packed-up and no attempt by the government to repair them. Most water from the private bores in Abraka urban is connected to hostels for students use. For instance out of the 68 bores located in Abraka main town; 35 were connected to hostels, where majorities of the inhabitants are students, 25 sunk solely for commercial and household use, while 8 have been connected to private homes similarly 135 (over 71%) of the 188 water projects in Abraka and its environs, are used for commercial purpose (see table 2). Some owners of these bores also have their house connected to their owned bores.

Table 2: Types of bores in Abraka

Private Commercial Total Percentage
53 135 188 70

Source: Author’s fieldwork, 2005

On the other hand, less than 30% of the privately owned boreholes were connected to private houses and solely for private uses. However most of the boreholes were sunk between 2000 and 2005 respectively. For instance, out of the 202 functioning water projects existed presently in Abraka 153 were sunk between 2000 – 2005 while 49 were sunk during or between 1989 — 1999 (see table 3)

Table 3: Years bores were sunk

Private Commercial Total
Below 1989 15 Non-functioning or packed – up few year after commissioning
1989 — 1999 51 49 that are privately owned are functioning while the one owned by government at Abraka urban and Erho are packed up.
2000—2005 153 All functioning
Total 219 202 functioning and 17 non-functioning.

Source: Author’s fieldwork 2005.

Table 3 also showed that out of the 219 water projects seen in Abraka, 15 were sunk before 1989, 51 in 1989 and 1999, and 153 between 2000 and 2005. Out of these, 17 are bad and stop functioning few years after commissioning; Leaving 202 bores. According to the inhabitants, most of these packed-up projects sunk by petroleum trust fund (PTF) during the Babagida regime. However the year 2004 witnessed rapids sitting of bores in Abraka. For instance the field observation revealed that a total 58 bores were sunk in 2004 alone. Presently there are 23 drilled bores not yet connected to the overhead tank (i.e. they are still under construction) when asked they said they occasionally pump water from these bores for block moulding and building of houses. The owners of these bores capitalised on the non-existence of public tap to increase the price of water in the area. For instance, 20 litres of water is sold as high as 5.00 — N8.00 in some communities (most especially in Abraka urban). An interview with some of the inhabitants seen buying water from these sources revealed that though these privately owned bores have really alleviated the problem of water shortage in Abraka, because of their short distances and efficiency, but the price of the water is very high. For instance the price of 20 litres can cost as high as N5.00 or N8.00 on the average in most of these communities. Due to this high price most households have to down size the quantity of water use per day and ‘whenever it rains, they fill all available bowls with rainwater, and little quantity of about 20 litres for drinking is usually bought from the private bores. The interviewed also revealed that high proportion of the bores owners in Abraka are willing to pay and register with the Urban Water Board provided the government of Delta State could provide regular supply of electricity to their communities. This is evident from 153 out of the 188 private bores owners who indicated their willingness to register with the Urban Water Board at Asaba (see table 4)

Table 4: Number of bores owners who are will to register with government

Yes No Total
135 35 188

Source: Author’s Fieldwork, 2005

Their justification of willing to pay is that ground water is one of the natural resources that are owned by the government, and anybody extracting natural resources pays certain amount of money to the government. The operators of the bores outlined the following as a limiting factors in order of severity; epileptic power supply, high prices of diesel and fuel, theft and maintenance cost. They all generally stressed that because of the epileptic power supply they no longer depend on electricity (NEPA) rather on generating plants to power their water project, and that the prices or diesel and petrol have further increased the running cost, which they shifted to the consumer. Thus a change in the price of 20 litres cans from N2.00 to N5.00 or N8.00 depending on the circumstances. Similarly, because of the high rate of insecurity most of the submersible pump have been lost to theft, and now they engages the services of security men to guard these water pumps, which according to them cost as high as N4, 500.00 or N7, 500.00. They therefore call on the government of Delta State to provide more transformers, in Abraka or if possible linked Abraka to the Ogorode power line, since it will serve the Main Campus of the Delta State University, Abraka. The major problem militating against effective water supply to the inhabitants of Abraka are ascribed to high cost of hydraulic equipment and drilling of the bores, epileptic power supply, theft and the recently introduced 1 0, 000 and N3, 500 bores registration fees by the Delta State government.


This study has been able to show that there is a high rate of PSP in water supply in Abraka. Out of the 202 functioning water project in Abraka 188 are owned and maintained by private individuals. The study also revealed that 188 privately owned bores, supply water regularly to the inhabitants of Abraka, though the price of N5.00 — 8.00 is on the high side. The problem of epileptic power supply and theft are major limiting factors to effective water supply. It is therefore recommended that Abraka community should be regarded as a priority or special area and linked to the national grid or Ogorode power supply. When this is done it will enhanced regular power supply that will better the entire life being of the residents of Abraka.


Adesuyi, D. (1996), Nigeria Produces 25 year water Master Plan. Ultimate Water Technology and Environment 1(1): 17-19pp.

Efe S.I. (2003), Water quality and its utilisation in the Nigerian rural setting of Abraka Delta State International Journal of Ecology and Environmental Dynamics Maiden (ed) 81-86;;.

John, T. (2002), Opinion World Summit of Sustainable development, private sector participation in the water sector in the water sector published by international institute for environment and development U.S.A., UK.

Oyebande, L. (1981) The hydrology of water supply: A case of Jos in P.O. Sada and J.S. Oguntoyinbo edited Urbanisation Processes in Nigeria, Ibadan University press. 141-149.

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