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Key findings
  • Only three in 10 Nigerians (29%) live in zones served by a piped water system, and even fewer (18%) have sewage systems their homes can access. Two-thirds (65%) live within walking distance of a health clinic.
  • Fewer than one in 10 citizens (8%) get their water from pipes in their dwelling place or compound. For most (65%), the main source of water is boreholes or tubewells
  • Close to six in 10 Nigerians (57%) say they went without enough clean water at least once during the previous year, a 17-percentage-point increase compared to 2017
  • Two-thirds (65%) of Nigerians say they went without needed medical care at least once during the previous year, a 22-percentage-point increase since 2014
  • Among respondents who had contact with a public health facility during the previous year, about four in 10 (38%) report difficulties in obtaining care, and two in 10 (21%) say they had to pay a bribe.
  • Only about one-third (36%) of Nigerians say the government is doing “fairly well” or “very well” on improving basic health care, and even fewer (27%) approve of the government’s performance in providing water and sanitation services.

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened problems that were already bedeviling Nigeria’s health system, including run-down or inadequate medical equipment, underpaid and unmotivated medical staff, and unequal access to health care (Andolu Agency, 2020; Pulse Nigeria, 2020). The World Health Organization has labeled Nigeria a human resources for health (HRH) crisis country (Global Health Workforce Alliance, 2020).

The pandemic has also highlighted citizens’ inadequate access to water and sanitation facilities. Nigeria has pledged its commitment to meeting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which is to “ensure access to water and sanitation for all” by 2030. But the National Longitudinal Phone Survey (NLPS) on the socio-economic effects of COVID-19 shows that many households in Nigeria do not have sufficient access to soap and water for handwashing and that there is low adherence to hygiene protocols (National Bureau of Statistics, 2020; Premium Times, 2020).

The most recent Afrobarometer survey in Nigeria, conducted in early 2020, shows that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, majorities of citizens reported going without needed medical care and clean water at least once during the previous year. Nigerians give the government low marks for its performance in providing water and sanitation services and improving basic health services.

Raphael Mbaegbu

Raphael is a project manager for NOI Polls

Chukwudebe Nwanze

Chukwudebe Nwanze is a senior research associate at NOIPolls