Correspondent Steve Sapienza spoke to reporters in Ghana and Nigeria to highlight long-running access and sanitation issues in both countries caused by poor infrastructure that has not kept up with growth.
Ameto Akpe is a local reporter for Nigeria’s BusinessDay, where her stories “target the contradiction of a country with immense oil wealth and great water resources that are not reaching their citizens.” In the city of Makurdi, capital of the north-central Benue State, she reports on the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on either high-priced water delivery or untreated water drawn straight from the Benue River.
“The previous attempt to build a water treatment plant ended in scandal in 2008,” says Sapienza, “with an unfinished treatment facility and city officials unable to account for $6 million.”
“Unfortunately, the waterworks is only half of the solution to Makurdi’s water problem,” writes Akpe on the Pulitzer Center. “The other half is a system of pipes to deliver the water to the people – and that project is just a twinkle in the eye of a handful of contractors and bureaucrats.”
In Ghana, metro TV reporter Samuel Agyemang explains similar access and sanitation issues in the capitol of Accra and its suburb of Teshie, where some residents have waited decades for piped water, despite substantial foreign investments.
The Pulitzer Center’s Peter Sawyer explains in a companion piece that “the population of Accra has grown enormously in the past several decades. But the water supply system has not grown with it.” As a result, the Ghana Water Company is constantly playing catch-up to provide water to communities, many of whom do not understand how to demand accountability from their officials, says Agyemang.