Just months after the launch of the USAID WASH Coordination Project (WCP), the Bauchi State Governor, Barrister Abubakar issued an Executive Memorandum on February 27, 2017, to move forward stalled reforms.
USAID’s WCP builds on prior work accomplished under USAID’s Sustainable Water and Sanitation in Africa (SUWASA) program and existing partnerships with the World Bank and the African Development Bank. WCP targets urban water and sanitation challenges in Bauchi and Kaduna States, where service gaps remain acute. Many of Nigeria’s water utilities are among the worst performing on the continent, with none of them being able to provide 24/7 water services to their customers. Only 34% of Bauchi State residents are estimated to have access to improved water supply and just 36% to improved sanitation coverage – one of the lowest rates in Nigeria.
The USAID SUWASA initiative promoted reforms between 2010 and 2014, which resulted in the approval of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Policy by Bauchi State in 2011 and the establishment of the Bauchi State Urban Sector Water Law of 2014. A change in Bauchi State administration in 2015 stalled the implementation of the new urban water law. Innovative activities stipulated by the law, such as improved accountability through performance contracting and a regulatory committee, a new Board of Directors, and an enhanced mandate of the Commissioner, had not materialized.
USAID’s WASH Coordination Project Chief of Party (COP) introduced WCP to the Commissioner for the Ministry of Finance, Alhaji Garba Sarki Akuyam, in January 2017. This discussion triggered the Commissioner and WCP COP to co-host a well-attended urban WASH stakeholders Strategic Planning Meeting a month later. The 30 participants acknowledged that the law establishing the Bauchi State Water and Sewerage Corporation (BSWSC) was not being implemented. They concluded that an Executive Memorandum from the Bauchi State Governor, Barrister Mohammed Abubakar, could jump start this initiative.
The WCP COP met with Governor Abubakar two days later. They talked about the need to issue the Executive Memorandum as soon as possible. A few days later, the Governor issued the memorandum. It authorized the Commissioner for Water Resources to implement the transition of the Bauchi State Water Board into the Bauchi State Water and Sewerage Corporation within six months, a record timeframe.
The USAID-funded WASH Coordination Project subsequently brokered a tripartite plan to implement this six-month program with the collaboration of the World Bank. With high-level political leadership and the right partnerships and frameworks in place, the ground is fertile for substantive and sustained change to occur.
By Timeyin Uwejamomere, Chief of Party for WASH Coordination Project at DIG (Development Innovations Group)
 African Development Bank Group, Urban Water Sector Reform and Port-Harcourt Water Supply and Sanitation Project, Project Appraisal Report, 2014.
 UNICEF. Water and Sanitation Monitoring Platform (WSMP) Nigeria – Country Summary Sheet, 2008.