The effort by Government, Non-governmental Organizations, Donor Agencies, Development Partners and Philanthropists to provide water facilities to about 32% of the Nigerian population who lack basic water supply have been challenged greatly by lack of financial sustainability strategy. Facilities in use need constant maintenance; during most planning stage of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects, little or no sustainability plan is in place for maintenance and this have led to the failure of many water facility projects developed for communities by government, non-governmental organization. Public water facilities also have experienced some level of low financial sustainability. This piece is meant to share knowledge on a technological approach to this challenge; through exploring the financial bottlenecks experienced while managing and maintaining water facilities to proposing designs for financial sustainability of community and Public water facilities. These designs where analyzed using the three pillars of sustainability to ensure its meets the present demand without compromising future needs.

Figure 1: A Dilapidated Water Facilities project with a communities.

Financial Bottlenecks of Managing and Maintaining Water Facilities.  

There are a few situations that stops the activity or process of managing and maintaining water facilities, these situations will limit the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal 6 in Nigeria by 2030. These situations are enumerated below:

  1. WASH Committee’s Financial Apathy: Most humanitarian projects have a committee comprising of the funding Organization and the community. The committee is assigned to monitor, evaluate and maintain the project objectives. However, these committees most times develop outstanding strategies, focused on the functionality of these water projects but these strategies lacks financial plans to maintain failing or dilapidation facilities. Meanwhile some projects don’t have any committee to do any of the aforementioned roles.

Financial Sustainability Approach.

As earlier stated, this piece is focused on addressing these financial bottlenecks mentioned above. There are other approach to solving these bottlenecks but this article is focused on; Pre-paid Water Metering.

Pre-paid Water Meter is a technological device used to measure and monitor the consumption of water, they have pre-payment plans or pay-as-you go plan automated systems.

In addition to managing payments, a pre-paid water meter that is IoT (Internet of things) enabled is highly recommended for collecting data, remote monitoring and data management.

There are many Pre-paid Water Meters in the Market, I am not recommending anyone but I subscribe to an IoT enabled device.

The following are applicable designs and pattern of installations to enable WASH Committees and State Water Boards achieve financial sustainability for Water Facility management. We will discuss the outcome of the installation of these meters on community projects and public water distribution systems.

  1. Proposed Design: Most Community water projects by humanitarian organizations are the most faced by these financial bottlenecks. These donor agencies and individuals should include this plan, it may cost more but it’s better sustainable, than not.

Below are the designs of most water project designs and the proposed design

Figure 2: Design of a Contemporary Water Facilities in communities.

Contemporary community project have the reticulation around the tank stanchion, these designs are the most used in many communities. The design have given rise to increased failures due to lack of strategic plan for routine maintenance.

I propose a design where the system will generate finances to meet the maintenance needs; see design below.

Figure 3: Proposed Water facility in communities.

From the design above, the reticulation have a distribution pattern within the community; where each house is responsible for their usage, as the pre-paid water meter is mounted at each house. With these meters mounted; the user pay a fee as they use the facility, this fee in turn is used by the WASH committee to maintain the facility. The water meter should be set on an affordable price per cubic meter. Every community have their economic power; due financial capability diligence should be done, the fee should not be an extortion by the WASH committee.

Pitfall of design for community projects.

The major problem of this design is the inability of the poor and less privilege members of some communities not been able to pay in a measurable amount. These community dwellers are mostly farmers; barter system can be applied; the dwellers have goods exchangeable for money and there won’t be no double coincidence of wants. Mr. A may have grains worth N1000 which may approximately worth about 2000 liters. Another dweller may be trained as a skilled worker (plumber or electrician) and he renders his services for the maintenance of the facility.

Figure 4: Prepaid Water Meter mounted at a residential in Taraba State, Nigeria; Source:

Sustainability Analysis of Prepaid Water Meter.

To help infer a balance and responsive venture, we subject the design under a Sustainability analysis to establish if it crosses the bar; below are a balanced examination of the design using the three pillars of sustainability.

Figure 5: Diagram of the three pillars of sustainable development; Source: Greenly Institute

Social Pillar: The design promotes equality as everyone have equal access to water supply and pays for quantity used, this eliminates disparity which occurs in the contemporary design. Supports gender equality, social inclusion and solidarity.

Economic Pillar: The design contributes to economic development through creating jobs among local who will be trained to work in the committee as plumbers or electricians. The Barter system for farmers will encourage the locals to go into more advance farming system to enable them trade their goods for their basic needs.

Environmental Pillar: It reduces one of the causes of water scarcity; Poor Water Management.  End users won’t be careless with water usage and leakages thereby reducing water wastage.  


Water facilities constructed from the era of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the era of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are enough to reduce the lack of clean water in Nigeria. The constant use of these facility needs routine maintenance which is been avoided due to lack of funds. If the above approach is adhered to, water facilities will be sustainable for the future. This topic is however open for further discussions.

Figure 6: MDGs Dilapidated Water Facilities project with Asokoro Village.

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